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The very best steps you can take to make sure your home is nice and toasty this winter is to perform a home energy audit as well as the annual fall/winter home maintenance checklist. Once you’ve done the major stuff – locating and sealing up air leaks, replacing your furnace filters, and adding extra insulation where needed – there are still quite a few little tricks you can use to lessen your reliance on the heater.
Read on for some clever winter hacks and easy DIYs that cost mostly nothing to pull off, and when done in tandem, will surely up the the coziness-factor of your home.
1. Put Socks on the Toilet Seat
Do you hate the feeling of an icy cold toilet seat on your otherwise warm buns? Try fitting an old pair of tube socks along the seat – it ain’t pretty, but it works! Also, for hygiene’s sake, replace them with a clean pair regularly.
Have a full toilet seat? Cut up some old t-shirts, towels, sheets, or any other fabric like so.
2. Fashion Some Draft Stoppers
A quick and inexpensive fix for drafty windows and doors, to make a draft stopper you’ll need some fabric, basic sewing skills, and stuffing (rice, kitty litter, or popcorn kernels would work). For the less craftily inclined, use pipe insulation instead.
3. Stick a Hot Water Bottle in the Bed
Slipping into ice-cold sheets on a wintery night is tortuous, but a cheap and effective way to warm up the bed is to use a hot water bottle. In a pinch, you can DIY it by zapping wet dishtowels in the microwave; once they are steaming, use tongs to place them in a zippered baggie.
4. Change the Direction of Your Ceiling Fan
Though a ceiling fan turning counter-clockwise can massively improve your quality of life during the summer months, in the winter you’ll want to switch directions and have it spinning clockwise. Kept at a low speed, this will pull cool air up and push the warm air down.
5. Free Solar Heating
Even on the chilliest days, you can get some free solar heat as long as the sun is out. Keep the drapes open during the daylight hours on your east, west, and south-facing windows – but be sure to close those curtains once the sun sets to keep that free heat indoors.
6. Close Off Unused Spaces
If you rarely spend time in certain rooms in your home (a basement, spare room, or home office comes to mind), save money on your heating costs by closing off the room. Depending on the heating system, you can switch off electric heating entirely or close up the vents if you have forced air. Close the curtains the keep the door shut until spring.
7. Make a Radiator Heat Reflector
Make any floor-mounted radiator a little bit more efficient by sliding a heat-resistant reflector between the unit and the wall. It’s an inexpensive project that requires a length of corrugated cardboard covered with a reflective material like an emergency blanket or horticultural film, which will redirect the heat away from the wall and into the room. The warmer the room, the less heating will be needed to maintain the temperature.
8. Make Some Thermal Curtains
Way cheaper than replacing poorly insulated windows, thermal curtains – which is a fancy way of saying really, really thick curtains – can be made with a couple of old comforters as filling. To make the drapes easier on the eyes, choose a pretty fabric to sew over the filler and add a large dowel at the bottom to ensure it can be rolled up with ease.
9. Insulate Your Windows with Plastic Wrap
It’s an old-school hack, but it really does make a huge difference in keeping your home pleasantly temperate. All you need is some cling wrap, double-sided tape, and a hairdryer to create a thin, but robust, barrier against those icy winter winds. When done correctly, you’ll hardly notice it.
10. Use a Chimney Pillow to Plug Drafts
A fix for chimneys with a missing or ineffective damper, chimney balloons are excellent for stopping heat loss through the flue and are durable enough to remove and reinstall when you want a fire. But if you have an old chimney that you don’t use, a cheaper solution is to make your own chimney blocker using construction-grade garbage bags stuffed with old pillows.
11. Make a Candle Powered Air Heater
Great to have on hand during an ice storm (with the requisite power outages), this DIY space heater is also quite useful for those really cold days when you want to kick up the temperature a few degrees too. Made from a couple nesting terra cotta pots and some candles, you can create your own electricity-free heater that won’t cost a thing to run and operate.
12. Sneak an Extra Blanket Under Your Bed Sheet
This little trick will keep you snug as a bug: place a wool blanket on the mattress before adding the fitted bottom sheet. Wool is really the best material use because it has air gaps between the fibers which traps body heat and prevents it from dissipating into the surrounding cooler air.
13. Leave the Oven Door Ajar
Winter time is the perfect time to use the oven to bake up an array of comfort foods and treats. When you’re finished baking and once the oven is turned off, leave the door slightly ajar to allow the residual heat to waft into your kitchen and the rest of your home.
14. Don’t Drain the Bath Water Right Away
The humidity levels inside the home help to determine how much heat the air can hold. After taking a soak in the tub (and here are some super DIY bath time ideas), don’t pull the plug straight away. Instead of flushing the still-warm water down the drain, let it be until it’s cool and add a few (free) degrees of warmth to your home.
15. Shower with the Door Open
If you’re more the showering type, leave the door open to allow the warmth and humidity to circulate beyond the bathroom itself.
16. Air Dry Your Laundry
Another way to increase humidity without a humidifier is to hang your clothing to dry indoors. Not only will this boost humidity levels, it will also save you on the costs of running the dryer.
17. Put Down Some Rugs
Cover wooden flooring and ceramic tile with soft carpets and rugs. It’ll feel much nicer on the toes and help keep heat within instead of leaking through your floorboards.
18. Pick up Some Knitting Needles
Or a crochet hook…or just use your fingers! There’s good reason the yarn arts are a winter pastime – handing soft wool as you work and draping the finished piece – be it a luxuriant scarf or a comfy blanket – will definitely keep you warm while also making something practical and beautiful.
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