The key to understanding how to keep warm is the fact that you lose more heat by radiation to your surroundings than you do by convection to the air. This is why your house feels so cold when you get back from a winter break, even after you’ve turned on the central heating—though the air quickly warms up, the walls take far longer to do so, and may continue to make you shiver for up to a day.
Use your curtains
Heat from the sun is free, so you’ll want to make the most of it. Open your curtains and let the sunlight in during the day to make use of this free heat. Window shades and curtains should be kept open during the day. Closing your curtains as soon as dusk falls will maximize your home’s potential to retain that heat. When it gets dark, shut your curtains and shades, which act as another layer of insulation and keep warmth within your rooms. You should also make sure you don’t have any leaks or gaps so that the warm air can stay in and the cold air stays out, which also helps reduce condensation. Make sure there’s a good caulk seal around the windows.
Move your sofa
It might feel great to have your favorite seat in front of the radiator or air vent, but it’s absorbing heat that could be warming your home. By moving it away, hot air can circulate freely. The same goes for your curtains or drying clothes, keep them away from the heat source so that you can get maximum efficiency. Also, positioning furniture or fabric near a heat source is a significant fire hazard.
How warm you feel in a room depends on where you are, even though air temperature is the same throughout. You will feel warmer if you position yourself closer to the inside of the house because the cold external walls are further away. So, try and place your furniture next to an internal wall.
If your desk is up against an external wall so you can look out of the window, your legs may tend to get cold. If the head of your bed is next to a cold external wall you will be prone to getting a stiff neck, though you can counter this somewhat by using a solid headboard.
Have your furnace maintained before cold weather begins
Change the filter at least every 3 months. If you have pets, you’ll probably need to do this more often. Check the air vents throughout the house. Use a vacuum to clean out dust and debris, and make sure they are not being blocked. Clean the furnace. Use a vacuum to remove debris and make sure the unit is clean. Check ducts for air leaks. If you notice or feel any air leaks, you can use duct tape to seal the leaks.
Cover the fireplace when not in use
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter—allowing warm air to escape out the chimney. When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox or open the nearest window slightly, approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
Set your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise
Your ceiling fan direction needs to be changed seasonally, whether you know it or not. Altering them to clockwise motion in the winter at a lower speed, you can drive warm air down from the ceiling where it collects back into the room. Most ceiling fans have a switch that changes the direction of the fan’s rotation.
Add some layers to your floor
Invented for the practical reason of keeping your floors cozy, area rugs aren’t just a way to add color and style. Floors account for as much as 10 percent of heat loss if they’re not insulated, and area rugs can be that missing insulation. They’ll keep cool air from seeping up into the room, and your toes will definitely thank you.
Doors offer many gaps for cold air to blast through, so seal your doorways. Install foam weather stripping around the inside of your door to create a seal and prevent air exchange. Double draft stoppers are a great short-term solution for preventing a draft at the bottom of the door. Also take into consideration the potential loss of heat with a pet door. Make sure it’s installed properly, and the seals are tight.
Install a programmable thermostat
This will keep your bill low, and your efficiency high. Instead of manually adjusting your thermostat several times a day, consider programming your thermostat for the following temps/times during the week if your house is empty during the day:
- 6 to 9 a.m. = 68 degrees
- 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 60 degrees
- 5:30 to 11 p.m. = 68 degrees
- 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. = 60 degrees
If these temperatures seem to chilly for your household, you can adjust accordingly and still get the benefits of not having to wait for the temperatures to adjust after a manual turn on.
Assess your heating zones
Decide which rooms you spend the most time in. If you have a second or third heating and cooling zone in your home, remember that they don’t all have to be set equally. Lower it in the rooms you don’t use as often, and shut doors to help keep the warmth where you need it most instead of allowing it to disperse through unused space.