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11 Easy Ways To Winterize Your Home

door drafts

Photo by Rudi Aldridge (Flickr)

It finally happened. After a rather warm start to our winter, NYC has been hit with a cold snap. This has left us New Yorkers bundling up ourselves and our homes. We’re freezing, but many of us still manage to lose our cool when we see the energy bill. No matter whether your home is an apartment or a house, there are steps you can take to make your home warmer and safer while still saving on energy. Try some of these tips and tricks.

  1. Sew an adorable DIY draft-stopper for your door. All you need is a bit of fabric (which can be anything from a knitted tube to old jeans) and a filling (which is often rice, beans, pillow filling, or even old plastic bags). Sometimes called “draft snakes,” these easy-to-make tubes can be crafted into any design. They’re meant to be placed at the seams of doors and windows to help stop the steady stream of cold air flowing in.
  2. Reverse your ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can help keep you cool, but they can also help increase the airflow of a room to keep you warm. Turn your fan clockwise for more HVAC effectiveness.
  3. Wrap your windows in plastic. This project is cheap, easy, and only requires a hairdryer. Simply buy some plastic and place it over your tightly closed windows for a surprisingly effective layer of insulation. If you don’t want to buy or install the admittedly gaudy plastic coverings, thick curtains can go a long way as well.
  4. Turn down your water heater. You probably don’t need your water to be scalding hot, as this can waste a ton of energy in the winter. Lower your heater to about 120 degrees.
  5. Clean your chimney, fireplace, or stove. You probably should have done this already, but having a clogged or poorly maintained fire area can really suck a lot of heat out of your house. If you’re not using it, make sure it’s shut.
  6. Invest in insulation. If your home is really wasting heat, it might be time to insulate your attic and/or basement. In the basement, you can cover up windows and insulate crawl spaces. In the attic, old insulation may be the source of your woes. You can also better insulate your pipes and even insulate your electric outlets, which tend to leak heat.
  7. Better manage that thermostat. I’ve always been told that keeping the thermostat at one low, manageable temperature and not changing it was the best policy, but new thermostats can be programed to lower the temperature when you leave and raise it when you come back. Technology is so neat.
  8. Open your curtains during the day. If you have an apartment that faces the sun (or a room in your house that faces the sun), opening up the curtains during the day can bring in sunlight and thus warmth. It’s the cheapest and easiest thing to do to help make your place warmer. But don’t forget to close the curtains at night to provide better insulation.
  9. Make sure your vents and heat sources aren’t being blocked. If you have an old piece of furniture on top of your best heat vent in a room, that’s probably going to damage the furniture over time as well as keeping it from being warm in your room.
  10. Surround yourself in comfortable blankets. The old dad-worthy advice to “put on a sweater” works to some degree. Bundle up indoors: You don’t have to blast the heat until it’s 70 degrees. Make sure there are plenty of comfortable, welcoming blankets and throws for guests to bundle up with, and tuck in when you’re home.
  11. Lock your windows and doors. You likely do this anyway, but making sure that your windows and doors are locked creates a tight seal that can also lock in the heat.

If you’re still experiencing very low temperatures indoors and you live in an apartment, it might be time to talk to your landlord about other options, like sealing off ducts, replacing filters, or simply checking the furnace.

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