11 tips to keep your home warm this winter
Posted by American Homes 4 Rent Team
7m read time
Dec 8, 2021
It’s a recurring fight every winter: you versus the cold. Even if you live in a typically warm climate, you’ll still find chilly days coming down on you, sometimes without warning. Luckily, there are plenty of tips to keep your home warm, many of which won’t add to your energy bill. Follow these steps to get started.
Here comes the sun
Letting sunshine come through your windows is one of the simplest ways to keep the house warm without heat. Even if there’s only a few hours of sunshine, throw your curtains open wide, lift up the shades, and invite the sun in—or step outside to catch a few rays. Modest exposure to sunlight brings natural warmth and provides plenty of health benefits, too. Just be sure to close the curtains and draw the shades at night, which will help keep the heat inside your home.
Put up a space heater
Instead of cranking up the thermostat, consider a space heater for a more compact and efficient way to bring warmth into the home. They’re portable enough to move from room to room, or you can plant two or three throughout the house. However, don’t put your space heater in harm’s way. Never use it for things like cooking or to warm clothes; make sure it’s only for supplemental heat. Space heaters are a factor in about 43 percent of home heating-related fires, so take some precautions to ensure you’re only getting warmth and nothing more serious. Place them on the floor, ideally a smooth, flat surface. It should never go on a shelf, table, or other surface. In fact, it shouldn’t be within three feet of anything flammable, from curtains to paper to furniture. Avoid getting water near your space heater, too, and turn it off when you’re done using it.
Reverse your ceiling fans
For a cheap way to keep the house warm during the winter, glance up. Ceiling fans have a switch on them that will send the blades going in the opposite direction. During colder months, reverse the motion of the ceiling fans in each room so they’re moving in a clockwise direction. Doing so will send hot air down into the room instead of causing it to rise, giving you an extra burst of warmth.
Check your radiator and furnace
If your home is regularly a bit chilly, inspect your radiators and furnace. Both are major ways to keep a house warmer, but only if they’re put in positions to succeed. A radiator shouldn’t have anything blocking it. When you have a couch, chair, or other obstruction pressed up against the radiator, you’re preventing heat from getting into the room. You can also reflect heat back into the home by placing aluminum foil behind the radiator, but only do this move if the radiator is connected to an external wall. For the furnace, take a look at the filter. Is it covered with dirt, dust, pollen, or other gunk? Then it’s time to replace it with a clean one, which will allow heat to flow more easily and is one of the easiest tips to keep your home warm. Most professionals recommend replacing filters every 90 days, though thicker filters take longer to accumulate debris, so they may only need to be replaced a couple of times per year.
Insulate the roof or attic
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association estimates roughly 90 percent of homes are under-insulated. Particularly in older homes, insulation can settle over time, leading to heat escaping through the roof and walls. Check to see if you have enough insulation. If your home is more than ten years old, you likely need to add more. About a quarter of a home’s heat leaves through poorly insulated roofing, so check your attic or loft to ensure yours is still in good shape. By improving your home’s insulation, you’ll not only retain more heat and comfort within the house, but you’ll also save money on your bills and reduce CO2 emissions.
Monitor your thermostat
For every degree you turn your thermostat down, you’ll save about 1 percent on your energy bill. And adjusting the heat can generate savings of about $180 per year on average. That doesn’t mean you have to suffer though. With some strategic monitoring, you can still maximize your thermostat for comfort. Opt for cooler temperatures during the bulk of the day and while you’re asleep, and warm it up in the evening and when you first wake up.
Inspect your doors for gaps
Your front and back doors are a potential obstacle to a warm home, particularly if there are any gaps in the doorframe. Under the door is the most common, but there can also be cracks on top or around the sides. Use a door snake or draft stopper to serve as a barrier to cold air from outside. These are typically heavy cloth items that plug up a gap and keep warmth inside the house. In general, keep doors throughout the home shut if they lead to other areas of the house, such as downstairs to the basement or to a main hallway. This helps keep heat within the room instead of escaping up through the house. You’ll save on your bills, too—Energy Star reports 25 to 40 percent of heating costs come from air leakage throughout the home.
Add rugs to your rooms
Some bedrooms and living rooms are carpeted, which helps add insulation during colder months. Hardwood and tile floors, while aesthetically pleasing, can quickly become turn a midnight trip to the bathroom into walking on ice. If you’re looking for cheap ways to keep a house warm in winter, rugs are an affordable option. They’ll keep your feet and toes warm, which offers good circulation for the rest of your body. Look for wool or shag options for maximum warmth, but any rug will help, as well as add an element of style to the room.
Be smart with your showers
It’s natural to want to use more hot water during a winter shower. But that can quickly add up, and you’ll be left scratching your head when you see your energy bill. To avoid that sticker shock, take a moment to give your water heater some care. Prepping your water heater should be a part of winterizing your home—turn off your water supply and the power attached to the hot water heater. Drain the tank, turning on every faucet to let water run through the pipes, getting rid of any sediment buildup within. Once fully drained, turn your water heater back on. While you do so, lower the temperature of the water heater by a few degrees to save on your energy bill. And keep the utilities savings going by only taking showers instead of baths. Per Energy Star, baths use about 2.5 times the amount of water than showers do. As a bonus, don’t use a bathroom fan and leave the bathroom door open while you shower. The steam will move throughout the house and heat up other rooms.
Heat up the kitchen
When looking to keep a house warmer, the kitchen is one of the best rooms to head toward. To start, leave your oven on for a bit longer after you’re done using it. You can even keep it open a bit to let the hot air cascade throughout the house. However, don’t try that technique if you have small children, elderly people, or pets living in your home. When cooking on the stovetop, don’t turn on any fans or vents on the stove hood. The heat from the stove won’t dissipate as quickly if it’s allowed to linger in the air. Finally, you can boil water in a kettle or large pot to generate heat throughout the kitchen. Don’t let that water go to waste, either. Once it’s come to a boil, make some tea—or a hot toddy, if you’re feeling particularly festive—and warm yourself up with a tasty beverage.
Cozy up your bed and sofas
Another way to bring the heat this winter is to work on warming yourself up, instead of the home. Start by dressing in layers and making sure every place where you can sit or lie down has at least one blanket you can use. Wool, fleece, and cotton are all good choices. Weighted blankets are becoming popular, too, offering a big hug in fabric form. In the bedroom, you can use flannel sheets and thick comforters for extra cozy during the night. You can also try sleeping with a hot water bottle. Place it on your chest or shoulders while you’re reading, then refill it with hot water and move it to your feet when it’s lights out. Your temperature will remain slightly elevated throughout the night, keeping you cozy.
Keep your house warm this winter and enjoy some newfound hygge with these simple steps—it’ll be the most comfortable holiday season yet!
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