17 Easy Ways to Keep Your House Warmer in Winter

A scene of snow in the woods

Learn how to keep warm and cozy this winter with these easy and inexpensive ways to warm up your home. Sometimes it's just a matter of moving the furniture. 

17 tips for keeping your house warm

January is the deep of winter in the northern hemisphere and the cold has seeped into the house and into my very bones.

There is a limit to how high we can turn up the thermostat, right? 

Not only does it raise the monthly bills, but there are certain places in the house where we'll sweat while other corners are so cold that I can't feel my feet. Plus the Chief and I seem to have different "internal thermostats."

Is it possible to find a happy medium? We need to be warm enough to be comfortable and to function, and still be able to afford the utility bills. There are several more months of winter to come, and I'm tired of feeling cold.

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The obvious solutions - adding extra insulation in the attic, and replacing the windows with high-efficiency double-paned windows - are expensive and not in our plans right now. If they're not in your plans either, read on.

I've rounded up seventeen easy ways to warm up your home and feel cozier without spending a fortune or taking on a crazy DIY project. They are excellent low-tech ways to save on your heating bills too.

And if the power goes out, these tips will help you stay warm while the heat is off.

A window with the curtains open

How to make your home feel warm and cozy without spending a fortune

1. Open curtains in the daytime 

Open your curtains to let the sun shine in, and close them when the sun moves and the windows are on the shady side of the house.

The current trend of having unadorned windows, while it allows you to enjoy the view outside, can make your home cold at night. 

Open curtains - or even better, insulated drapes - will allow the light into your home, then you can close them at night to keep the warmth inside and the cold out. 

In fact, the more layers you have on your windows, the warmer your house can be.

2. Add window quilts to your windows

Quilted fabric can be hung over your window under the existing curtains, and will help to insulate your windows. 

You can make simple window quilts - I found some great tips and instructions on constructing window quilts here - or you can look for pre-quilted fabric (commonly called "cheater cloth") or fleece at the fabric store to cut and hem to fit your window.

Fleece doesn't even need to be hemmed, so it's a super easy project.

For a nearly free solution, just hang a blanket over your curtain rod. It won't be pretty, but it can be very effective. Be sure the quilt or blanket covers the window completely (especially length-wise) to block out all drafts.

3. Buy a window-insulating kit

These kits include plastic film you attach to the window frame with the included double-sided tape and then shrink with a hair dryer. 

The dead space between the window and plastic will insulate your room, but the downside is that you can't open the window on a nice day with this installed.

A possibly less-expensive alternative is to line your windows with bubble wrap. Simply tape a sheet of bubble wrap, which you can find at office supply stores, directly to the glass.

Or use a spray bottle filled with water to spritz the window glass. Smooth the bubble wrap onto the window before the water dries. The bubble wrap will magically stick to the window.

Brown ceiling fan on a white ceiling, with the lights on.

4. Change the direction of your ceiling fan

In the winter, ceiling fans should turn in a clockwise direction to push warm air down. [Source] In the summer, they should turn counter-clockwise. You should find a switch on the side of your fan to change the direction.

While you're up on the ladder or step-stool looking for the switch, dust your fan blades. You can spread a bed sheet on the floor underneath to catch all the dust. (No, it won't make your house feel warmer, but it's a good opportunity to clean those blades!)

5. Cover window air conditioner units in the winter

Amazon has both indoor and outdoor covers for window units. 

A less-expensive but more laborious alternative is to remove window air conditioning units for the winter and replace them when the weather warms up.

Or simply use duct tape and a thick trash bag to cover the a/c unit. It's not pretty but it works.

6. Use draft stoppers to block drafts under doors

A simple way to do this is to roll up a towel and lay it along the bottom of the door or window. 

Or sew a tube of fabric (you'll find directions here) and stuff it with anything from old, mismatched socks to uncooked rice to Styrofoam packing peanuts or wadded-up grocery bags.

When winter arrives, these simple, easy tips will help you keep your home warm and cozy.

7. Move your sofa

If your couch is right in front of your heat source - such as a radiator or baseboard heat - or on top of your forced air heating vent, it can block the heat or even absorb the heat and leave the rest of your room cold.

Simply rearranging the furniture could make a huge difference.

8. Attach a magnetic register deflector to your heating register

If you have registers on your walls, a deflector will direct the heated air back down into the room instead of up to the ceiling. 

Or use this long register deflector to direct warm air along the floor and into the room if the register is under a dresser, bed, or other large piece of furniture.

9. Add a shelf under a window

Radiators and baseboard heating units are often situated right under a window. In this situation the hot air will rise and can be trapped between the window and the curtains where it isn't helping to keep your warm at all. 

To prevent this, you can add a shelf above the radiator (under the window) to stop the air from rising and deflect it into the room instead.

10. Use area rugs

Insulate your tile or wood floors with thick area rugs. Hardwood floors are the current decorating trend, but rugs will help keep your feet warm.

When we lived in Greece, the wool rugs that covered the marble floors in our apartnent were rolled up and taken to the cleaners in summer, where they were stored until the weather (and the floors) cooled off again.

11. Close the damper in your fireplace when you're not using it

Don't let your heated air go up the chimney! This video will show you exactly how to close the damper on your fireplace.

12. Sleep with a hot water bottle at your feet, cozy flannel sheets and extra blankets

You might be tempted to sleep with a heating pad, but that's not recommended for safety reasons. Instead, you could warm up your bed with the heating pad and remove it before you go to bed.

13. Use passive heat

After cooking dinner, turn off the oven and leave the door open slightly so the hot air in the oven can help heat the room. 

Simmering a pot of soup all day will help heat the air in the kitchen as well as provide a hot meal for dinner. Indoor air is often quite dry due to the furnace, and simmering soup will help add some needed humidity.

Winter is an excellent time to make big pots of chicken stock, or to render tallow.

A water bath canner with jars inside, and steam rising from the boiling water.

14. Use your pressure canner or water bath canner

Winter is a great time to can garden produce or make jam or jelly. The heat from the stovetop will also help heat the house, and the humidity helps to make your home's dry winter air more comfortable. 

In the summer I toss my garden-ripe tomatoes into freezer bags and freeze them, then preserve them by canning in the winter when the heat is welcome and I'm not as busy.

Winter squash, apples, carrots, and dried beans are all good candidates for winter canning

I turn our apples into apple juice in the fall, then during the winter I use the juice to make Harvest Apple Jelly.

15. Close off unused rooms

Keep the doors shut and close the heat registers in unused rooms. Why pay to heat a space you're not using? 

Also, see Tip #6 above. Doors to unused rooms are a great place for draft stoppers.

16. Winterize these often-forgotten spaces

  • Check the access door to your attic or crawl space and insulate it if needed. 
  • Caulk around window frames to prevent drafts. 
  • Bathroom fans and vents should have draft blockers on the outside to keep warm air inside and cold outside air from blowing in.
  • If your house has a mail flap or a pet door in an exterior door, cover it with plastic. A vinyl shower curtain is inexpensive and can be cut and attached where needed with tape. 

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17. Lastly, dress in layers

Slippers, sweaters and thick socks will help you stay warm. 

Keep a basket of lap blankets and throws near the sofa so they're handy.

If you crochet, knit or hand quilt, working on your projects in the winter will help keep you warm. 

And don't forget that snuggling up with a loved one or letting the cat sleep on your lap will also lend warmth - and probably lower your blood pressure too.

How do you stay warm in the winter?

These money-saving tips will help you keep your home warm in cold weather and your wallet full. And if the power goes out, you'll have tips and tricks that will help your family stay "warm enough."

For more money-saving and simple-living tips subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter, and join me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I'd love to see you there!

Related Posts:
How to Make a Power's Out Kit
Straw Box Cooking
- a non-electric slow cooker!
How to Prepare for Winter Storms and for Tornado Season

How to keep your home warm and cozy this winter without paying a fortune to the power company.


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