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27 Affordable Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter

By Thomas O'Shaughnessy | November 23, 2022

The last paper is signed, the keys are in your hand, and you’re finally moving into your new home. Your head is probably filled with visions of fresh paint, furniture arrangements, and other exciting flourishes that will make your new house feel like home. 

But in the exciting flush of new homeownership, it’s important to keep economics in mind. Quality furniture and upgrades may only happen once every decade, but the place where expenses really add up? Everyday maintenance and care, including home heating. This is especially important when energy costs are on the rise.

But don’t panic. If the closing costs you just paid have you dreading upcoming winter heating expenses, here are 27 affordable ways to keep your home warm this winter.

1. Keep Heating Vents Uncovered

The easiest way to save money staying warm doesn’t cost a dime. If your living room always feels chilly, check the placement of your furniture. Many people inadvertently cover their heating vents, effectively blocking hot air from entering the room.

2. Stop Drafts at Outlets

Outlets can be a surprising source of drafts. Add draft stoppers behind them.

3. Use Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping around windows and doors can help seal even the smallest cracks. This keeps cold air and drafts at bay. 

4. Check Attic Insulation

Older homes may have older (or inadequate) insulation in the attic. This may be thinner than current codes require. Most homeowners find adding additional insulation easy and affordable. 

5. Skip the Fire

A fireplace adds ambiance but can be a sneaky source of heat loss. Skip the regular fire and keep the flue closed when not in use. If you want a nightly fire, add insulated glass doors to help prevent heat loss.

6. Clean Your Chimney

A clean chimney is safer and makes a better fire. Enlist a chimney cleaning professional once a year before your first fire. 

7. Maintain Your Roof

A failing roof can result in energy loss. It can also let wintertime precipitation into your home. Replace or repair any missing or damaged shingles. 

8. Close Doors of Unused Rooms

There is no sense heating a room with no one in it. Close doors that aren't in use during the day. This includes bedrooms. 

9. Keep Vents Open

On the other hand, keep heating vents open even in rooms that are unused. Maintaining a consistent ambient temperature is more cost-effective than trying to reheat a cold room. 

10. Reverse the Spin

Switching the spin on your ceiling fan from summertime counterclockwise to wintertime clockwise can help push hot air down from the ceiling. Some find any air movement keeps the room too cool, but if you like moving air in your home, reversing the spin can help. 

11. Use a “Door Snake”

A door snake is a thin, bean- or gravel-filled piece of fabric that tucks neatly under the door to prevent drafts from the outside. This can be moved from door to door as needed, or you can buy one for each entrance to your home.

12. Add a Door Sweep

If a snake is inconvenient or you just don’t like the look, a door sweep offers the same benefit. It’s a sturdy nylon addition to the bottom of a door leading to the outside that protects against drafts.

13. Seal Windows

To block drafts from old windows, install quick-seal plastic during the colder months. Do-it-yourself kits are affordable and easy to install.

14. Don’t Use a Bathroom Vent

The bathroom vent pulls steam out of the room, but it also removes heat. Since wintertime homes are often very dry, it's OK to skip the bathroom fan after a shower. 

15. Strategically Use Curtains

Capitalize on free heat by opening curtains during the day to let the sunshine in. Close them just before sunset to keep that warmth inside.

16. Keep Furnace Filters Clean

Furnace filters keep particulate matter out of the air, but they also help your furnace work more efficiently. Change them once a month for the most efficient function. 

17. Put Foil Behind Radiators

Sliding aluminum foil behind your radiators reflects heat back into the room (instead of into the wall).

18. Turn Down the Hot Water 

We use more hot water in the winter time. First-time home buyers may never have thought about their water temperature before, but having it too hot can be dangerous for small children and your home heating costs. Most people can't tell the difference between water heated to 140 degrees and 120 degrees, but your heating bills can. 

19. Turn Down the Heat 

This seems obvious, but so many people neglect this simple action. Adding a sweater and turning the heat down a few degrees (or more when you leave the house) can save you a solid chunk of money over the winter.

20. Consider a Space Heater

Energy-efficient space heaters that direct warmth to a person save money by not heating the entire room. These are also a good choice when family members disagree on how hot to keep the house. 

21. Use a Humidifier

Winter heat is very drying, and this dry air can feel colder. Add a humidifier to the rooms you spend the most time in. You can also simmer a pot of water on a wood stove, open the bathroom door after a shower, or use a kettle on the stove to add moisture to the room.

22. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Don’t want to fuss with the temperature constantly? Install a programmable thermostat and let it do the work for you. Some states even offer tax benefits for doing so.

23. Update Your HVAC

This is a larger expense but one that pays dividends in the long run. Finance it with a home buyer rebate or check to see if this is a tax-deductible expense.

24. Switch to Flannel

Switch to flannel sheets in the winter time for a cozy, restful night of sleep. Sleep experts recommend sleeping in a cold room, but flannel keeps you warm all night long. 

25. Preheat the Bed 

Add a hot water bottle or rice-filled heating pad to the bed before you slip in for the night.

26. Add Rugs

Keeping area rugs on a wood or stone floor go a long way to increase your personal warmth. 

27. Educate Yourself

You were a careful consumer when it came time to select your real estate broker. Don’t stop learning now. The U.S. Department of Energy has tons of information on cost-conscious ways to heat (and cool) your home.

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