Does the mere mention of winter bring to mind drafty days and chilly nights? Follow this advice.
The struggle to keep warm is real, especially when temperatures start to dip below freezing. No one knows this better than the citizens of cold climates. But what’s the best way to deal with the chill? Is having a programmable thermostat worth it? Do heavy-duty curtains really curtail the cold? We asked our frigid-weather friends for their best tips on staying toasty indoors when winter is in full force. And no, moving to Miami, FL, wasn’t one of them — though that’s not a bad idea.
1. Make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed
If your windows and doors are super old, and it’s in your budget to do so, replace them. Jeana Kraft, a resident of Wausau, WI, says her family opted for a brand of windows that are manufactured in northern Minnesota, one of the coldest places in the country. “I think they have an edge on designing windows that can withstand long, very frigid winters,” she explains. Otherwise, try placing clear plastic over especially drafty windows or add a threshold seal to your sliding doors, suggests Brian Hugins, who resides in the suburbs of Chicago, IL.
2. Invest in insulating curtains
“This is particularly useful for sliding glass doors, older windows, or if you have a couch in front of your windows,” says Karen McConnell of Newton, MA, a suburb of Boston. “When you’re reading or watching TV, it’s pretty hard to get comfortable with an icy breeze trickling through, and curtains can mean the difference between coziness and cranking up the heat (and the corresponding utilities bill) yet again.”
3. Keep the doors between rooms open
“Because of our house’s wonky heating system, some rooms get really cold, whereas others are overheated,” says McConnell. “We’ve found that if we keep the doors open to the overheated ones, it helps to keep everything a little more balanced and comfortable.”
4. Stock up on flannel sheets and down comforters
“We still keep a lot of blankets on hand in sitting rooms, and we place flannel sheets on the beds,” says Kraft. For McConnell, pairing flannel sheets with a down comforter makes a “huge difference on cold nights.” Never underestimate electricity-free means of keeping warm.
5. Install a programmable thermostat
“But make sure you re-evaluate your settings every few months, particularly if you have different heating/cooling zones in your home or your lifestyle has undergone any changes,” advises McConnell. “I realized I needed to do this when I wandered into our family room and was surprised by how toasty warm it was. We still had the heat settings tailored to when my daughter was younger and we spent almost all our time there.”
6. Splurge on floors with heated coils
“We have them in our master bath, and I thank God each time I wake up on a cold, dark morning and step onto my heated bathroom floor,” says Kraft. “If someone told me that I had to take 1,000 square feet off the design of my home in order to meet the budget for a heated bathroom floor, I would take the heated floor.”
7. Light a fire
“We had a wood-burning fireplace in both our previous and current homes, and on cold nights, it could heat the whole house,” says Kraft. If you do light a fire, be sure to close the chimney flue once you put it out. Otherwise, you’ll let in a lot of cold air.
8. Insulate your attic
“That was the first thing we did when we moved into our house,” says Heather Wiese, of Dexter, MI, outside Ann Arbor. It’s a weekend project that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates can save you 10 to 50% on your energy bill. You can use either loose fill insulation (and “blow it in” with a machine you can rent from a home improvement store) or batts, which are sold in large rolls. Pro tip: Be sure to fix any air leaks with foam sealant or caulk, or the extra insulation will be for naught!