Occasionally, winter weather can take a sharp turn for the worse, and sometimes, our homes can be caught off guard. If you are in the middle of a polar vortex, you can’t worry about the fact that you failed to upgrade your old windows or get your furnace maintenanced this year. Your only concern is staying warm now – and hopefully doing so without spending a ton of money.
We have put together a list of short-term and free actions you can take to help keep your family warm during the coldest parts of winter. Of course, the best approach is always preventative, so be sure to read up on ways you can make your home more energy efficient, but when you are in a pinch, these tips work well.
Close your chimney
Warm air rises, and if you don’t have your chimney closed, the warm air you need to stay in your home will exit through your chimney. For extra insulation, stuff a big pillow up there or something else big enough to wedge. We recommend that you hang a big sign in front of your fireplace to remind you that the pillow is up there, because you don’t want to forget it’s in there when you start your next fire.
Wedge towels underneath exterior doors
Can you feel a draft coming in through your door? It’s likely because your door is not properly sealed. Twist up a towel, wrap duct tape around it once or twice, and then wedge it underneath any exterior door and even the door leading to your garage.
If you have plenty of blankets, use them as temporary insulation by hanging them throughout rooms in your house. Use them to cover drafty windows, doors, and even exterior walls that aren’t properly insulated. Of course, this will look ridiculous (unless you’ve longed for the days of building “forts” as a kid), so this isn’t a long-term solution, but it will work well when you need to keep the warm air in your home during the coldest days.
Keep south-facing windows clear
Remove everything that might be covering any of your south-facing windows during the day. The sun is a great heating source, and unless a tree is blocking them, your southern facing windows get sun all day. So let that natural heat come in freely by keeping those windows uncovered by blinds, curtains, or the blankets you hung up throughout the rest of your house.
Fill your tub with hot water
If you have a tub, take a shower or a bath but don’t drain the tub of the hot water. Instead, keep it in there until it has completely cooled. The heat from the water will transfer to the air. The tub works to increase the humidity in your home as well, which will help make the air feel warmer. Also, be sure not to use the ventilation fan in your bathroom, because it will only reduce the humidity and expel the warm air.
Cook with your oven or stove
Bake cookies, make hot chocolate, or cook healthy, grown-up food. Just be sure to use your oven or stove instead of your microwave when you want to add a little extra heat to the house. However, do not just turn your oven on and leave the door open. Too many accidents occur as a direct result of this, either because people forget to close the ovens or children get burned by touching them.