17 Easy Ways to Warm Up Your Home this Winter



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. 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 hubby 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 - insulating the walls and 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're 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.




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


1. Open curtains in the daytime 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 the draperies instead to allow the light into your home, then close them to keep the warmth inside and the cold out.

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

4. Change the direction of your ceiling fan; in the winter the fan should turn in a clockwise direction.

5. Cover window air conditioner units, or remove them for the winter season. Amazon has both indoor and outdoor covers for window units. Bathroom fans and vents should have draft blockers on the outside to keep warm air inside and cold air from blowing inside.

6. Use draft stoppers to block drafts under doors, or roll up a towel and lay it along the bottom of the door or window. Draft stoppers are easy to make yourself: sew a tube of fabric and stuff with anything from socks to uncooked rice to Styrofoam packing peanuts.


7. Move your sofa. If it's right in front of your heat source, such as a radiator or baseboard heat, it can block the heat or even absorb the heat and leave the rest of your room cold.

8. Attach a magnetic register deflector to a wall register to 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 a register is under a dresser, bed, or other large piece of furniture.

9. Baseboard heating units and radiators 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 you 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. Insulate your tile or wood floors with thick area rugs. When we lived in Greece, we learned that the wool area rugs that cover the marble floors in winter are rolled up and taken to the cleaners in summer, where they are stored until the weather (and the floors) cool off again.

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

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

13. After cooking dinner, turn off the oven and leave the door open slightly so the hot air 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. Winter is an excellent time to make big pots of chicken stock or to render tallow.


14. Winter is also 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 can them 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 by shutting the doors and closing the heat registers. Why pay to heat a space you're not using?

16. Check the access door to your attic or crawl space and insulate it if needed. 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. Caulk around window frames to prevent drafts.

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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 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.


Wait... wasn't this post supposed to be about self-reliance? Yes, it is. It's about saving money that can be better used elsewhere - like on my food storage goal for this year. It's about feeling comfortable in our home and living the life we want to live. And if the power goes out - even though we don't have a wood stove or fireplace (and we know we need to do something about that) - we will stay "warm enough."

Do you have other suggestions of things that have worked for you? Please leave a comment below. And check out the past posts below too - I've been writing about self-reliance for a long time:

Plant perennial onions and never buy onion sets again
How to catch rainwater without a nearby roof
You can make vinegar at home for pennies (free ebook)




This post is part of the Self-Reliance Challenge hosted by Lisa at The Self-Sufficient HomeAcre. Throughout the month of January, I'm joining a group of bloggers who are writing about how and why we can strive to be more self-reliant. You can read more about the challenge here.





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4 comments

  1. Very good suggestions Kathi! Every room is different in this 1910 farmhouse.Lucy keeps my lap warm at night on the couch and sleeps ever so close to me in bed so close I can't move.LOL. We slept with hot water bottles when I was a kid and now I finally broke down and use an electric blanket but just to warm up the bed not all night. Great tip on the ceiling fan's I knew there was a difference but never knew which was which. Thanks!

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    1. Cats make the best lap warmers, don't they, Rose? Well, dogs can be too but ours are too big for laps.

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  2. Excellent suggestions. Where I live in France external shutters are really popular too. Plus I am sitting here wearing a super warm jacket with a hot water bottle popped underneath and I am cosy warm. Popping by from Stone Cottage Adventures Link party - Happy New Year!!

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  3. I'm so impressed you came up with 17 different ways! Number 12 is definitely my favorite, even though here in Northern California my husband tells me I've gone soft! I would also (very tactfully) suggest that a few star jumps, squats, or even push-ups go a surprisingly long way to warming ourselves up, and might allow the thermostat to be turned down a degree.
    Yes, I'm inclined to agree: we only have one life so it should all be in one calendar. That said, I struggled with this for several years, keeping one for work and one for home and putting most appointments in both. These days, it all goes in Google, but I pander to my paper-preferring side by planning my daily todos and brainstorming goals in a physical notebook.
    Good luck with your calendar conundrum!
    (Visiting from the Hearth & Soul Link Party)

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