10 ways to make your house warmer without touching the thermostat

A hand turns a thermostat down with the word "Save" displayed on the readout.

Winter lurks around the corner, and that can mean higher energy bills dropped into your mailbox each month. No one wants to watch their money fly out the window just because they want to stay warm.

If you’ve been struggling to resist cranking up the thermostat during the nippy days of early autumn, then we have some good news. We’ve found 10 ways to help you keep your home warmer this winter without having to turn up the heat.  And, no, we’re not talking about wearing a hat and mittens inside the house. These are easy, practical solutions to keep you more comfortable all season long.


1. Use a Humidifier

Dry air and the cold go together like peanut butter and jelly. When we run the heat, it dries the air out, which then makes it harder for the air temperature to maintain its warmth. By adding a humidifier to a few rooms in your home, the water vapor it produces will allow the room to stay warmer with less power from the furnace.


2. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

You may think your ceiling fan only helps keep your home comfortably cool in the warmer months. However, one simple trick transforms it into a secret weapon in the winter. Energy Star recommends flipping the switch on your ceiling fan, so it will run in a clockwise direction when it’s cold, and keeping it on low.

Running it clockwise creates a gentle updraft that sends warm air trapped at the ceiling downward, warming the air in the spaces we occupy in our homes, according to Energy Star’s website. Just don’t forget to flip the switch again when spring rolls around!


3. Open Those Curtains

Let Mother Nature help you heat your home the old-fashioned way. By opening the curtains during daylight hours, your uncovered windows allow the sun’s heat to naturally bring up the temperature of the room, even if only slightly.

But at night, shut the curtains again because they can act as an insulation barrier to prevent warm air from escaping out of your windows. You can even pick up some thermal curtains that act as an environmental barrier in all seasons.


4. Seal Your Windows

Before you put up those thermal curtains, you should make sure your windows are airtight before winter creeps up. Sealing your windows prevents cold drafts from coming into the house and precious heat from escaping to the outside.

There are a couple of ways you can insulate your windows. Real Homes suggests a few common options to keep the heat inside: window film, bubble wrap, caulk or adhesive weatherstripping. Each of these solutions is inexpensive and doesn’t require a lot of expertise to install. Visit your local hardware or home improvement store to get what you need.


5. Use Heating Pads and Heated Blankets

Few things are better in the cold months than wrapping yourself in a warm blanket. Instead of turning up the thermostat, leave it a little lower and use an electric blanket or add a heating pad to wherever you sit or sleep. This step can also help avoid fights between people who like to sleep in wildly different temperatures!


6. Unroll Some Rugs

Many people love the convenience of keeping hardwood or tile floors clean. However, in the winter, those floors get pretty chilly. Give your floors a warm upgrade by adding some area rugs, even if you plan to just roll them back up when spring comes.

The National Energy Foundation found about 10% of a home’s heat loss comes from the floors. So, adding a rug can add a layer of insulation to keep some of that precious warmth in your home where it belongs.


7. Use Draft Stoppers

Draft stoppers are such a simple invention, but so effective in keeping out those chilly breezes in the winter. Also known as door snakes, these nifty tools simply sit at the base of your doors and windows and block the chilly air from slipping inside. Sometimes the most basic things are the most effective, right?

Feeling crafty? If you are interested in making your own draft stopper, you can check out this step-by-step tutorial to help you easily design and stitch one up, if you’re handy like that.


8. Use Your Oven Often

The cold temperatures might have you craving some amazing comfort food. What better way to warm up your house than to get cooking in the kitchen? Using the stovetop or baking in the oven gives off enough residual heat to make a little difference in the kitchen and the rooms right around it. So, pull out your favorite cookbooks and get busy making something warm for your tummy, as well as your home!


9. Rearrange the Furniture

Moving around your furniture for the winter months has both aesthetic and practical benefits. By taking the time to shift a few pieces of furniture around, you not only get a new look to your living space for nothing but also a couple of bonuses.

Making sure your furniture is clear and away from vents ensures the warm air coming from your heater can flow freely and effectively. This might surprise you, but large furniture can absorb the hot air from vents. You want your furnace to keep you warm, not just your furniture.

In addition, relocating furniture, such as your bed, away from the windows and the outside walls will keep you away from the coldest parts of the room. Consider moving that furniture more toward the center of the room if you can.


10. Get Your Furnace Ducts in Shape

For the days when you absolutely must use your furnace, you’ll want to be sure it’s running at peak efficiency to avoid wasting energy. An HVAC professional can do a quick check of your heating ducts to make sure they are in good shape, which may cost anywhere from $100-$300. A licensed inspection can also prevent potential dangers like carbon monoxide poisoning, so it’s worth doing yearly.

Even a few of these tips can help you avoid turning up the thermostat as often this winter, hopefully without sacrificing your comfort. The time and small financial investment now could save you big dollars over the course of what feels like the longest season.

By Marie Rossiter, for Scripps News

About the Author

Scripps News

Scripps News delivers compelling, context-driven news, fact-based reporting and a deeper look at the "why" of each story with objective, impactful storytelling. Scripps News is available over-the-air 24/7 and on leading connected TV platforms. More.

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