Thursday, November 3, 2022

Cheap Ways to Keep House Warm in Winter (And Reduce Heating Costs)

Learn about several ways to keep the house warm in the winter so you can save on your heating bills.  This has how to keep your house warm without electricity and a few options using electricity to lower your gas or heating bills.

How to Make a Cold House Warm

There are few things I miss about allotment living: the garbage disposal and turning up the heat when I got cold.

When we moved to the farm, we were assured that we would only use about $1000 in propane each season.  It was more like $1000 a month to freeze!

I can not take the cold, so I had to learn how to save on heating bill to reduce costs.  I was also putting out an extra $1000+ a month in heating costs, so there wasn't much left over to invest in items to lower heating costs.

Now we've been here over a decade, so we have the heating thing under control and heat the house for a lot less.  We're still hoping to install an outdoor boiler this year or next year, but we've managed to reduce heating costs considerably.

For more rural living ideas, check out these posts:

How to Make a Cold House Warm in Winter

Living in a rural area means always being prepared.  We have two heating sources, and I always recommend having one source that doesn't use electricity.

Some of these ways to lower heating costs are easy to do.  Others take a small investment or some work.  I tried to find items that don't cost a lot of money though.

Wear Warm Clothing (Even Indoors)

This is perhaps one of the most common ways to lower heating costs and avoid cranking the heat up in your home. If you have a decent tolerance for the cold, it might be easier and much cheaper to wear warmer clothes inside than you normally would.

For instance, sweaters and hoodies are both comfortable and warm. Wearing thicker pants, such as denim or insulated thermal pants are also good ideas. 

My husband and sons like to wear thermal pants in the winter.  My daughter and I wear cute leggings under our jeans in the winter.

It is also recommended to wear comfortable thick socks or house shoes rather than walking around barefoot.

In fact, keeping your feet warm goes a long way to keeping the rest of your body warm as well. This is why investing in comfortable socks or house shoes is one of the most recommended ways to keep your house warm without heat.

Further, investing in or breaking out the warm blankets goes a long way to reducing heating costs, especially at night. 

Cheap Ways To Insulate

There are plenty of cheap ways to insulate your home, and some of these tips will pop up in other tips. One of the most popular methods is to buy plastic insulation wrap and cover your windows during the winter.

These kits really do help reduce drafts and create an air pocket between the cold window and the warmer air in the room.  

While these kits aren't the most effective of the cheap ways to insulate your home, they really do help.  They are also inexpensive and easy to use.

You can also use towels and blankets to cover areas where it gets particularly drafty.  If there is a room in your house without a door, some people hang blankets up to keep the heat in or out. 

I put thermal curtains over a door we don't use so it's still accessible in an emergency.  Learning cheap ways to insulate is important as there are several methods that can be used all throughout your home.

Insulate Your Attic

Often, it can be easy to forget just how much heat can escape through your attic. This is why insulating your attic is one of the first steps in learning how to make a cold house warm.

Your attic should have eleven inches of fiberglass insulation minimum. If it does not, you will probably end up losing a lot of heat.

Before you insulate your attic, however, you should take care to seal up any cracks in the floor of the attic first. This will help you to pinpoint where insulation is needed, and also ensure that your home is further insulated.

Insulating your attic is a great tip when learning how to keep your house warm without electricity. Insulation ideas for the home are almost always great places to start when you set out to keep your heating costs down.

Closing Up Unused Rooms

If you happen to live in a larger home or have some extra rooms, chances are there are some rooms that do not get used. If this is the case, why heat them? 

The doors to these rooms should be closed so as to not let heat in that won’t be appreciated.  Further, you can close up the vents in the room so that warm air does not enter them as much. 

You might also consider using a draft blocker or even just a towel to seal off the base of the door.

As a word of caution, however, you do not want spare rooms to drop into freezing temperatures. This is because freezing temperatures could damage pipes that are in the room. Rather, you just want to keep it cool enough so that you are not spending money on heating an unused room.

Manually Turn Down The Water Heater

There is nothing wrong with a warm shower, but they should not get too hot. You can manually lower the temperature of your water heater from 140 degrees fahrenheit down to 120 degrees. This can help you save on water heating over time. 

Further, taking quicker showers and using less hot water can also be great ways to save money during the winter time. This is a great way to help keep the house warm in winter and can yield lower heating costs.

Check Windows & Doors Manually

Your home is at risk of losing heat through improperly sealed doors and windows. Before the winter really sets in, I recommend going around your home and testing to ensure that leaks are not present. 

If you feel cool air through the window or door frame, there is a leak. You can also walk around with a lit candle.  If the flame flickers, there's a draft.  

For windows, often just closing them tightly and locking it is enough, but you may need to invest in some plastic insulation. 

For doors, you can use a towel to seal off the bottom to prevent air from seeping through, but that won’t really help for the sides and top of the frame.

To insulate your doors, you can add a door sweep on the bottom.  For the sides and top, you can use weather stripping to prevent drafts.  

You can also use caulk around the door frame to seal it.  For large gaps, use backer rods.

Light A Candle

This is a cheap and effective way of diagnosing any leaks in your home that might be letting out heat during the winter.

Often, one of the biggest expenses with respect to heating is when heat is able to escape through an air leak. Air leaks can be tough to spot, and can raise heating costs.

Lighting a candle will produce a trail of smoke. Watch the trail and see if it flows towards any specific door or window. If it does, it’s likely that there is an air leak that needs to be sealed or plugged.

Using Your Drapes

During sunny days, I recommend opening up your drapes to let sunlight naturally heat your home. Once the sun has set, however, you should close the drapes to help keep the heat in that was produced during the day.

You might also invest in winter drapes, that are thicker and help to keep heat trapped in. These can help further seal your windows, and keep the heat from escaping. 

Heavy winter drapes are often one the best ways to learn how to save on heating bill costs.  I have used cheap insulated curtains in the bedrooms, but I splurged and got these thermal insulated curtains for the living room.

They hang nicely and aren't too thick, but they do a good job helping to keep the living room warmer.  We have two picture windows, so we lose a lot of heat through them.

Use a Humidifier

We have a humidifier on our furnace, but we haven't used the furnace in a few years.  Instead, I set bowls of water on the registers to get moisture in the air.

I also use a humidifier or hang clothes on a drying rack to dry and put more moisture in the air.

In the winter, the air in your home can get dry.  Adding moisture back into the air can help you feel warmer due to the wetness in the air.  

When there's more moisture in the air, the body evaporates less water.  Evaporation cools your body, so if you don't put off as much water, you'll feel warmer.  

Higher moisture in the air also makes the air feel heavier.  This helps the room feel warmer.

If your home is dry (you can check it with this hydrometer), try adding some moisture into the air.  I'm sure you will feel warmer at 68 degrees of moist air vs 68 degrees of dry air.  

Try to shoot for 30 to 40 percent humidity.  Any more than that can cause condensation on the walls or windows.

Replace Old Furnace Filters

When trying to keep the house warm in winter, often we might not think about our furnace filters. While you should consistently replace your furnace filter when it gets too dirty, it is not just about cleaning your air. 

Dirty filters can clog your furnace which forces it to work harder which in turn leads to higher energy costs. Replacing the filter keeps your furnace working smoothly, and helps to lower heating costs. I also recommend opting for a furnace inspection so as to ensure it is being as efficient as possible. 

Electric Blankets

Learning how to make a cold house warm can be a great experience. For instance, it gives you a reason to invest in a super comfortable electric blanket. 

Often, electric blankets can be much cheaper than heating your room, and they make for a great sleeping experience! Not to mention, they do a great job of helping lower heating costs.

Cooking/Baking At Home

As opposed to summer, it is often nice to eat warm foods during the colder months. Foods like stews, roasts, soups, and other such dishes are often winter staples in many households. Further, wintertime usually entails more baking than does the summer.

Baking and cooking meals at home can help to save on the costs of eating out, yes. However, it also helps to heat your house and cut down on the heating bill. Using your stovetop and oven are great ways to heat the house while performing a necessary task. 

Once you are done cooking, you can also prop the oven door open to let the heat out into your home. This will help heat up your kitchen and any adjoining rooms, which can really make a difference.

 Keep the house warm in winter with these simple tips and tricks.

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  1. Closing off vents in unused rooms may cause higher energy bills, your system could break down and you could cause comfort issues in your home.

  2. These are great tips, but from someone who hates the cold, I refuse to be cold in my own home. Wouldn't it be better to insulate the walls, replace the windows, etc., to keep the house itself warm?