Ah, winter. Cold, wind, snow…all wonderful gifts of mother nature. Or not. If you’re one of the many people out there who is always cold, you might crank up your heat during the winter, not go outside, and hibernate under a blanket with a warm cup of cocoa. The only problem with that winter lifestyle is that upping the heat in your house can cost you a pretty penny, and with oil prices as high as they are this winter, you might be looking for some ways to keep warm without pulling too much out of your wallet. Here are some of our best tried and true (and most importantly, inexpensive!) tips.
If one of your favorite hibernation tactics is to curl up with a blanket, and cocoa, keep doing it! Hot beverages are proven to raise your body’s temperature in cold settings. Hot coffee, cocoa and tea are all great ways to warm out without breaking the bank.
You would be surprised at just how much heat can escape your home through cracks in framing around doors and windows. Drafts can enter the house with no problem at all, but you can combat them by making sure windows and doors are all properly sealed during the winter months.
Consider purchasing some inexpensive caulk to seal the spaces between window and frame, or cover windows in a clear plastic film. The plastic will actually even trap heat from natural sunlight and prevent warm air from escaping your home.
Thermal curtains can be a great inexpensive investment for your home. We already know that closing curtains can help seal in warmth, but for just a couple extra dollars, you can purchase curtains that have a thermal seal between the curtain fabric itself and your window.
While thermal curtains may cost slightly more than your average curtains, the extra cost will quickly be off-set by the money you save in heating costs. Trap the heat in, and you won’t have to crank it so high to maintain a comfortable temperature. Make sure you open the curtains during the day, though, to allow the natural sunlight and heat to work their magic.
You may have the most gorgeous hardwood floors on the block or in your entire apartment building, but the truth is bare floors make a large space lose heat. Consider laying down area rugs in your larger rooms to cover the bare wood. The carpets will provide an extra layer of insulation for that room, thereby maintaining a warmer temperature.
Homemade meals and goodies will not only warm up your tummy, but they’ll warm up your house, too! Having the oven on will help keep the air dry and help make it warmer, whereas food that tends to give off a lot of steam will create more moist, dense air that is more difficult to heat. So get cracking on those chocolate chip cookies!
One of the most effective ways to heat up your bed before you sleep is to purchase an electric blanket, but we’re trying to save money here, not spend it. Put flannel sheets on your bed for starters. Have an extra blanket laying around the house? Use it as an extra layer of warmth between sheets and comforter. Sleep under a down comforter if it’s possible – down is proven to keep you nearly twice as warm as just a regular blanket.
If you’re still chilly at bed time after taking this advice, simply put another blanket on top of all the other layers. Just like clothing, the more bedding you layer up, the warmer you’ll stay all night, and the lower you can keep your thermostat.
Believe it or not, turning on a ceiling fan can be a good idea in the winter. Warm air rises, and if you turn on a ceiling fan (make sure your settings on the fan are set to blow air downward), the motion will help circulate the warm air that has risen to the ceiling back down to the space that you spend your time in. Keep the fan on a low setting – the point here is to help circulate the warm air that rises, not cool down the air by moving it too much. Also, keeping the fan at a low setting will help keep your electric bill in check.
There’s no sense in heating a room that you don’t use. Close doors to rooms that you don’t spend a lot of time in to keep the heat contained to the rest of your home. If the rooms you’re closing happen to have heating vents in them, you’ll enjoy this tip doubly, as the small room will heat up more quickly, too, without the heat being pushed right out of the door.
Go the old fashioned way and make a good ‘ole fire in your fireplace! Fires are a fantastic source of heat and can generally heat multiple rooms with one fireplace. Fire wood is typically an inexpensive purchase, and can be a truly effective (and cozy!) way to heat your home without using oil or electricity.
No one really likes going out in a snowstorm, do they? Brave the cold and wind and head out to a place that you know will be heated, like a local coffee shop, friend’s house, or even a library. Spend some time there, and while you’re away, turn the thermostat in your home down to save energy.
This one shouldn’t be too difficult, especially if you’re the type to hibernate in the winter, anyway. Just being close to another warm-blooded body will instantly warm up your frigid bones. Snuggle in with a significant other, a child, or even a pet (they have all that nice, warm fur, too – even better!) next time you sit on the couch with a blanket.
Most importantly this winter, if you’re trying to save money, make sure you’re paying close attention to your thermostat. Turn it down when you’re away from the house or while you’re sleeping to save energy. If you pack your house full of people, turn the thermostat down from the level you would keep it during most normal days and take advantage of the body heat from your crowd. With so many great ways to keep warm, there’s no reason to watch your heating oil bills skyrocket this winter. Keep the numbers on paper down and still enjoy your warm and cozy winter life!
Byline: Allison Waters is a freelance writer and homeowner based in Massachusetts with experience in the areas of oil prices Massachusetts and green concepts. She keeps her house and family warm at a low cost during the winter months and wants to share her secrets to help other families do the same.
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