Every winter when the temperatures go down the heating bills go up, and you start seeing a lot of advice about home improvements you can make to keep your house warm without going broke. A lot of it is really good advice. But what if you don’t want to want to tackle a project in the dead of winter?
We hear you. Luckily, there are ways to keep your house toasty that don’t require tons of heavy lifting, full-scale renovations, or outside contractors.
So if you’re feeling a chill but aren’t inspired to break your back or bank account over it, try these ridiculously easy ways to heat up your home.
Turn your fan around
During the summer, ceiling fans cool a room by spinning counterclockwise to push air down, creating a mild breeze that can magically mop your sweaty brow. During the winter, you can tweak your ceiling fan to make your place warmer by switching the direction it spins.
“Ceiling fans should be set to rotate in a clockwise—or the ‘reverse’—direction to redistribute warm air,” says David Moody, director of marketing at Service Experts Heating and Cooling. Why does this work? Because hot air rises and cold air sinks. So now your ceiling fan won’t be pushing the cold air down but rather drawing it up—which, in turn, forces the hot air near the ceiling down toward you (see the video below). And yeah, it works.
Use books as a barrier
Although books—you know, those ink-and-paper things with actual pages—may be a dying diversion in this tablet-obsessed world, here’s their chance to take on a second life in your home. Here’s the story: Books make great insulators!
If you stack your tomes on shelves against exterior walls, you’ll build a solid bulwark against the cold outside, says Craig Tuffelmire, owner of Tex-Perts Cooling and Heating. What’s that you say? The only books you’ve bought in the past decade were “Gone Girl” and a half-dozen Kardashian family autobiographies? It’s time to start reading again. The more covers, the better.
Pull the curtains
Windows can be a big source of heat loss in the winter, but the curtains you pull for privacy can do double duty by keeping the cold from creeping in. Just make sure you aren’t blocking out the incoming warmth of the sun, Moody says. Curtains on southern-facing windows should remain open during the day, but they can be closed at night or when the sky is overcast.
Set a draft trap
Odds are you’ve seen those “draft stoppers” shaped like long cats or dogs that snuggle up to the crack at the bottom of a door to keep cold air from coming in. But honestly, a rolled-up towel works just as well.
“This can help mostly on external doors that lead outside,” Tuffelmire says. It “is less important with internal doors but may help if you have a particularly drafty room that is affecting the rest of the home.”
Rearrange your furniture
How you situate your furniture can also help keep you warm.
“Furniture can be placed to optimize how heat moves through rooms,” Tuffelmire says. For example, if your desk or favorite armchair is near a drafty window, it’s no wonder you’re chilly sitting there! Consider moving these items toward an inside wall. Furniture can also create great barriers to cold—such as a wooden headboard for your bed, or a full-on credenza rather than a table with legs.
Make vents work to your advantage
You may think that closing the heating vents in infrequently used rooms will help you curb your heating bills while keeping warm air in the rooms you inhabit. On the contrary, since your heating system is designed to work through all the moving parts, a closed vent just makes the system work harder, resulting in sluggish and ineffective heat throughout your home.
So go ahead and keep all your vents open, and make sure no furniture is blocking those warm gusts of air. If your vents are the floor variety, line furniture up so that the larger pieces are “guiding” the air into the center of the room and away from windows and doors. For example, by placing the sofa between a drafty window and the floor vent, you’ll block off the hot air’s path to the window.