When the wind is howling or the snow is blowing, you want your house to be warm and comforting. You can take steps to make sure you’re staying safe during the winter season, and you’re not spending more money than you need on heating your home.
Try these 16 ideas to help you and your family stay comfortable without risking your safety or busting your budget.
1. Check for Electrical Problems
Before winter settles in, take some time to check the outside of your home. Dryer vents and electrical fixtures can be popular with birds and other critters. Make sure there are no nests left over from the spring and summer because they could be a fire hazard when you turn the heat on.
2. Breathe Easy
Be sure to replace your furnace filters once a month. Furnace filters keep your heating and cooling system running smoothly and can also make life a little easier for people with allergies. You can also check to make sure the exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchens are working properly. Keeping these clean and free of debris reduces your risk of fire.
A carbon monoxide detector is beneficial year-round, but it can be especially important when your house is closed up and the heat is running. Carbon monoxide is odorless, so it’s important to know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, upset stomach and confusion.
3. Keep the Water Flowing
Plummeting temperatures can put you at risk for frozen pipes. Make sure your pipes along exterior walls are insulated. Check for clogged gutters — icicles could mean water is collecting where it shouldn’t. And make sure all garden hoses are disconnected and outdoor spigots are drained before the really cold weather hits.
4. Clear Your Driveway and Sidewalks
Keeping your driveway and sidewalks clear of snow and ice helps keep you, your family and anyone who comes to your house safe. Check to make sure your snow blower and other equipment are working before the first flakes fall, and be sure to clear your driveway and walkways as soon as possible after a storm. Follow up with rock salt or ice melt on walkways to help keep your property free of slips, trips or falls.
5. Fight Germs
When everyone’s cooped up inside during winter, it’s easier for germs and viruses to spread. Make sure everyone in your house follows good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, wipe down high-traffic areas like doorknobs and faucets regularly, and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes whenever possible.
6. Install a Programmable Thermostat
One of the top ways to keep your house warm in the winter is to turn your thermostat down seven to ten degrees when you’re sleeping or when no one is home. It could save you as much as 10% a year on heating.
With a programmable thermostat, you don’t need to remember to turn the heat up or down. Plus, you can set it to heat up before you wake up or get home so your home is warm when you want it to be. Most programmable thermostats can store multiple daily settings and weekly settings, and you can manually override them without affecting the rest of the programming.
7. Reverse the Ceiling Fans
Many ceiling fans have a winter setting that reverses the fan, so it moves clockwise instead of counterclockwise. Heat rises, so the clockwise-spinning fan pushes the heat back down into the room, so it’s not trapped up at the ceiling. Turn off your fan and look for a switch on the motor housing to make the change. If your fan doesn’t reverse, you might be able to adjust the angle of the blades by hand.
8. Capture the Sun
If you’re trying to figure out how to keep your house warm in winter, open your curtains or blinds on sunny days to let the sun warm your home. Keep windows covered if the sun doesn’t shine in, whether they are on a shaded side of your home or once it starts to get dark. That way, you’ll help trap the heat inside your home.
9. Check for Air Leaks
Cold air could come in through drafty windows, doors or attics that allow cold air in and draw heated air out. Check the weather-stripping around your windows and doors throughout your home. If you’re trying to figure out how to keep heat in the house, consider replacing storm doors or adding insulation to your attic to help keep the cold out.
10. Take Advantage of Space Heaters
Space heaters are excellent tools for keeping individual rooms warm. Just be sure to use them safely because they are a fire risk. Keep flammable material at least three feet away and make sure the heater is on a stable, even surface. Don’t leave space heaters on overnight or run them when you aren’t home.
11. Keep Furniture Away from Vents
You may be tempted to put your chair or couch right next to the heat vent so you’re warm. But your furniture could disrupt the heat flow and make the rest of your space chilly. Keep it far enough away so the warm air has room to circulate.
12. Use Area Rugs
While area rugs add a design element to your room, they can also add a layer of insulation to the floor. They can trap cool air underneath, so it doesn’t seep up and cool down the room.
13. Turn Off the Bathroom Fan
Exhaust fans in bathrooms pull hot air up to the ceiling and out of your home, so use them sparingly. Instead, if privacy allows, leave your bathroom door open or cracked when you take a shower. That way, the warm, steamy air can travel throughout your home.
14. Consider Opening the Oven Door
Some people who bake or cook regularly like to leave the oven door open afterward (with the oven turned off) to let the heat warm the kitchen. It’s a personal choice, since the heat will dissipate into the kitchen whether the door is open or closed, it will just take longer with the door closed.
If you like the burst of warmth that comes from leaving the door open, be sure it’s not a safety risk for kids, pets or even adults who could bump into it or trip.
15. Change Your Sheets
Swapping out your usual bed sheets for flannel ones can help you stay cozy and warm all winter. You might want to add another blanket or two to your bed as well.
16. Close Off Unused Rooms
If you have rooms in your home that you don’t use regularly, close the heat vents in them and then shut the doors. That will help contain the cooler air and keep it from spreading into the rest of your space.
More Ways to Stay Safe
Talk to your local Farm Bureau agent to learn how Farm Bureau can help you protect your home and the other things that matter most in your world.