If the weather outside is frightful — or maybe just a little too cold for comfort — now is the time to think cozy! Here are a few ideas to help you feel warm and toasty while you save money on your energy bills. Take some time to assess your home and how you can make some simple changes to hold in warmth and keep out cold.
1. Bundle up
Just because you’re feeling chilly doesn’t mean you have to crank up the heat in the entire house. First, make sure you’re dressed for comfort. Layer on the sweaters, vests, and even fashionable scarves. Soft fleece makes an excellent insulating layer that isn’t heavy or scratchy.
2. Optimize your bed for warmth
Since you should spend at least 8 hours a day sleeping, make sure your bed provides the comfort you need.
Prepare for bed by warming with a hot water bottle or a rice-filled cloth bag that’s been warmed in the microwave. These are much safer options than electric heating pads that have the potential to burn.
Switch your sheets to flannel versions or add an extra layer or two of blankets or quilts. If you’re not allergic to down, you may want to invest in a down comforter for winter use. Wear socks to warm those popsicle toes.
If you have a ceiling fan in your bedroom, don’t forget to reverse the direction switch in winter months to pull warm air down from the ceiling.
When your bed is snuggly warm, you can feel good about turning down the home thermostat a few degrees during the night to save on your energy bill.
3. Settle into furniture that gives you a warm hug
Upholstered furniture has many insulating features that can keep you warm. Just as wall insulation provides a pocket of warmth, foam, polyfill, and down cushions and pillows also hold in a layer of warm air. Darker fabrics attract heat. Softer woods such as pine absorb warmth more than hardwoods like oak and mahogany. This may be the time to trade out any chilly wood, metal, or plastic seating for a new warm sofa and armchairs. Add a nice throw that not only looks good but feels good and you’re ready to be toasty-warm.
Don’t forget to cover wood or tile floors with throw rugs or carpets to insulate your feet or crawling babies from winter’s chill.
4. Put a coat on your water heater
Your water heater may be feeling the chill too this time of year. Blanket it with insulation to help it perform at its best. To save on energy, consider turning down the heater from the standard 140-degree temp to 120. You may not notice the difference, but your energy bill will.
5. Work your windows day and night
Sunlight offers free heating, so remove or pull back window coverings during the daylight hours. At night, cover them with insulated drapery or curtains, and close the blinds and interior shutters to keep away the chill.
6. Let humidity help
Winter is the time to use a humidifier to keep moisture in the air. It’s also the time to skip using shower and kitchen vent fans that pull the moisture out of your home. In fact, if it won’t cause embarrassment, leave the shower door and the bathroom door open while showering to extend the warmth to other rooms.
7. Bring on the comfort food
Put a pot on the stove with heartwarming soups and stews. Bake breads, muffins, and pies. Your kitchen will stay toasty warm, so will your tummy. When you’re done baking, keep the oven door open to put that warmth to extra use. (Don’t leave the oven unsupervised if children or pets might explore.)
A warm mug of something hot to drink like tea, coffee, cider, and cocoa can warm your mood, your hands, and your insides.
8. Seal the deal
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Of the $2,000 the average American spends paying for energy annually, $200 to $400 could be going to waste from drafts, air leaks around openings, and outdated heating and cooling systems.”
Look for cracks and openings around doors and windows. Don’t forget to search through your attic and basement for drafts and add insulation. Use weatherstripping and caulk to keep warm air from escaping or cold breezes from entering. Check electric outlets on outer walls for drafts and close them up with childproof outlet covers.
If you have a fireplace, be sure to close the damper when it’s not in use to prevent warm air from escaping out the chimney.
Don’t forget to replace your air filters monthly to keep your heating system running efficiently. It’s smart to call your heating and cooling experts to perform an annual HVAC checkup. Make sure your air ducts are in good order. This may be the time to invest in a new energy-efficient heating and cooling system — a long-term investment in your home’s year-round comfort that will add value to your home as well.
References used on December 13, 2021
15 ways to lower your energy bills
Why Energy Efficiency Upgrades
How Can Furniture Affect Your HVAC?
25 ways to stay warm this winter that won’t break the bank
13 Tips for Staying Warm Without Turning Up the Heat
Cold as ice? How to stay warm without whacking up the heating
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