No matter where you live, chances are the winter months are colder than the others and you want to stay warm. And whether you use electricity, gas, solar panels, or a wood-burning fireplace to heat your home, those sources all cost money.
When it comes to winterizing your apartment, there are lots of ways to keep the cold out and the heat in. Some are not very pretty, but when you’re feeling chilly, fashion and appearances lose importance.
Block the Cold Spots
Start by examining all your windows and doors with your hands, feeling for drafts around the edges and making notes of each spot where you do feel one. Next, walk from room to room with a stick of lit incense. Make note of where the smoke moves and in which direction. If you can manage it, you’ll also want to place five or six barometers around the apartment and note the temperature and water vapor fluctuations over time to analyze the air currents and circulation in each room.
Once you’ve finished examining everything, seal the cold spots with non-porous tape. Monitor the changes in all the rooms and make adjustments until you’ve blocked as many drafts as possible. Now all the heat you generate won’t slip through the cracks.
Insulate Electric Outlets
While you’re sleuthing for air leaks around doors and windows, check out the wall switches and electrical outlets. Believe it or not, they often have large gaps around them that let cold air leak in. The good news is that you should be able to find inexpensive fireproof insulating materials at your local hardware and home improvement centers. Just be sure to throw the circuit breaker or remove the fuses to stop the current from flowing while you’re insulating.
Switch Out Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Sure, the newer light bulbs save electricity, but they also don’t emanate heat like the old-fashioned incandescent type. For that reason, they help keep the room warm with little effort. Carefully store the energy-saving types in the mean time to start using again after the last frost.
Remove Lamp Shades
This step will instantly downgrade your décor, but you’ll be cozier and warmer when those incandescent light bulbs aren’t hidden by lamp shades. Plus, when you’re reading or entertaining, you can easily reset the shades.
Utilize Plastic Bags to Create Wall Hangings
Buy some “yarn” made from plastic and braid it into large mats to hang on your walls and insulate the room. Woven fabric wall hangings or lightweight throw rugs work just as well but can be expensive. Whatever you do, just be sure to keep all the hangings a good distance from lamps and wall outlets to avoid fire danger.
Cover Your Floors with Rugs
Lots of cold air can seep into your apartment if you live on the first floor or in a basement unit. Regular rugs work well, but ones made from woven plastic are more cost-efficient. Conversely, if you live on an upper floor, you may want to remove all the rugs and floor coverings so you can reap the rewards of the heat rising from the rooms below you.
Don’t Forget the Ceiling
If you don’t want to share your precious heat with your upstairs neighbor, insulation on the ceiling works wonders. Foam insulating sheets are relatively inexpensive, but if you’re really in a pinch, you can also just staple plastic bags to the ceiling.
Keep Your Ducts and Vents Clean
The cleaner your ducts and vents are, the better they work. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to reach as far into these spaces as possible. Check the vents on the heat registers to be sure they’re properly aligned to force the most warm air into your dwelling, or tell your landlord to replace them if they’re beyond repair.
Winterize Your Windows
Those sheer curtains look lovely when the windows are open during spring and summer. But when temperatures drop, they’re absolutely useless in keeping the cold air at bay. Second-hand stores often have heavy drapes, panels, and curtains you can tack to the walls above your windows during winter to keep the cold air from seeping in.
Tin Foil Generates Heat
Friends and neighbors may question your sanity if you use this winterizing technique, but it works. Placing sheets of aluminum foil behind incandescent light bulbs and on walls near windows that get a lot of warm sunlight reflects that heat back into the apartment. The best placement for these foil window treatments is easy to determine — just figure out where the light hits the wall at the sunniest time of day.
Speaking of Sun…
Follow the sunbeams as they fill your home with light, and adjust your curtains and drapes so every room gets full exposure. As soon as the sun moves across the sky, cover the windows with heavy drapes to keep the heat inside.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fan
The way ceiling fans keep the room cool is by pulling warm air upward and out of the area you occupy. By simply reversing the direction of the fan, warm air is pushed downward and gently heats the room. Low settings work best for this process.