The chill of winter is fast approaching for many of us, and as temperatures continue to drop, we find that it’s often an uphill battle to keep the drafts at bay. Most people tend to crank up the thermostat during this time of year, which usually causes the utility bills to go way up. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. As the cold really starts to set in, you’ll want to make sure you’re adequately prepared by taking some low-cost measures to keep your apartment comfortable and toasty.
Weatherstrip Your Doors and Windows
When winterizing your apartment, you’ll find it best to think about where the cold is most likely to seep through. This usually means small cracks or spaces open to the outside, such as those around windows and doors. Weatherstripping, when properly done, gives you the best protection possible here by acting as a barrier, preventing the air outside from infiltrating your apartment. It also keeps heat in, which is important when it comes to reducing energy costs.
You can easily find adhesive-backed, self-stick weatherstripping tape at your local hardware store, which you can then use to affix to the bottoms of windows or wherever you feel that insulation is needed. High-density foam, vinyl, or rubber is the way to go material-wise if you’re concerned about breaking the bank (though remember that you do get what you pay for, so stick with a quality brand). Simply clean the intended surface with some mild soap and water first, then cut your weatherstripping to the desired length. Peel off the backing and apply the strips firmly to the areas you want to insulate. This low-tech solution hardly takes but a few minutes, is budget-friendly, and will offer you almost immediate relief from the cold.
Note that while higher-grade weatherstripping materials do exist, they often involve installation with nails, which doesn’t sit too well with most landlords.
Buy a Humidifier
Investing in a humidifier is another good idea in wintry weather, when the air becomes not just cold, but dry. When moisture in the air is depleted, you start to feel cold much more easily since the heat isn’t retained as well, and you may even find yourself getting persistent nosebleeds and noticing your skin becoming cracked and chapped. A humidifier is an excellent way to keep skin supple in wintertime, curb coughing, and alleviate dry nasal passages, which if left unchecked lead to congestion. Picking out the right one is important, though.
You’ll probably want to opt for one that has a warm mist setting, which means that the water will be heated and released as steam. An added benefit of these types of humidifiers is that steam kills the germs responsible for causing colds, flus, and other maladies all too common at this time of year. Different models range in price, of course, but yours doesn’t have to be terribly expensive to have the desired effect. Just be sure to place it in a high-traffic area to reap maximum benefits — on your nightstand while you sleep, on your living room table, or anywhere else in the apartment where you spend a considerable amount of time.
Talk to the Landlord About Maintenance
Before the cold truly sets in, you should also consider approaching your landlord about performing a “checkup” on all the vents in your unit to make sure that they’re completely clear of excess dust and debris. It may be that your building’s management periodically calls in a professional to clean out the vents in each unit. This is particularly important in the winter, as dust particles can easily build up in the ducts and prevent the heat from circulating optimally. If your landlord doesn’t schedule regular cleanings, get in the habit of checking your vents yourself, and clean them out on a regular basis to ensure that they’re always functioning at their best.
Throw Down a Carpet
Many tenants with tile or wooden flooring find plush rugs to be an excellent additions to their home décor in wintertime. Placing a large, cozy rug in a room with a lot of floorspace automatically lends warmth to that room, effectively providing insulation to a surface that’s ordinarily cold to the touch. Look for rugs of a thick, dense material for maximum coziness. Another good décor tip would be to put a couple of warm flannel throws on your couch (though any blanket with a high thread count will do). Anytime you’re feeling cold, just pile on the blankets.
Other Cost-Saving Measures
You might also want to take a close look at the temperature you keep the apartment during times you aren’t home. Setting the thermostat at a reasonable temperature — 68 degrees is best — and then adjusting it as you like when you get back will keep utility costs down. You don’t want to shut off the heat completely when you leave, because then it will just take longer to get warm and could end up costing you more.
Lastly, you’ll want to take full advantage of natural (not to mention free) sources of heat like sunlight. During the day, you can open the curtains or blinds first thing in the morning to let each room absorb the heat of the sun. Then later when evening comes, just lower the shades back down to keep that heat from escaping.
By following these suggestions, staying warm and feeling your best this winter won’t be so difficult — and you might save a few bucks, to boot.