I may have grown up in the Northeast United States, but I’ve never acclimatized to the cold. In fact, if a genie granted me 3 wishes, one of them would be to have someone follow me around with a space heater all winter. (Though I suppose the second wish would have to be for a magic cordless space heater, as the extension cord would be a bit of problem).
In my perfect winter wonderland, I’d set the thermostat at 78° F (26° C) all winter, and if anyone dared lower it, they would suffer the consequences. Of course, my family would then be broke by springtime.
If you’re like me and you want to be toasty warm at home during the winter, I’ve cobbled together a few slightly more realistic ideas for keeping warm in winter without making your home furnace and utility bills weep (or finding a genie).
1) Dress for the Season
Simply put, I love wearing shorts and a t-shirt around the house, but in the colder months, it’s not a good strategy for reducing energy consumption. One simple way to reduce your energy usage is to dress for the season when you’re at home. Trade in warm weather comfort clothes for sweat pants and sweat shirt or jeans and a light sweater. You could even snuggle up under a blanket when watching TV or reading a book to drop the thermostat another degree.
2) Run Your Ceiling Fan in Reverse
Ceiling fans are not just for a cooling breeze. Most ceiling fans allow you to switch from a counter-clockwise rotation (which blows down cool air) to a clockwise rotation. This recirculates the warm air resting in your ceiling, which can help lower the demand on your furnace.
3) Let Your Windows Work for You
Windows can be a persistent source of energy inefficiency, but they can also work in your favor. Warm your house naturally by leaving the curtains of south-facing windows open during the day. When the sun goes down, close your curtains to help insulate your home by keeping warm air in and drafts out.
4) Cool Rooms
There are likely rooms and spaces in your home you do not readily use. A great way to lower your furnace usage is to limit the energy you expend on heating those places. To improve energy efficiency of these under-used rooms, simply close off vents and place draft snakes at the threshold of the door. You can also save energy by using weather stripping on the sashes of closet doors.
Note: Some HVAC systems, especially high efficiency systems, may become imbalanced and actually lose efficiency if you close too many vents. Consult your HVAC system manufacturer if you plan to close vents in a lot of rooms.
5) Have Some Soup or a Cup of Tea
While this suggestion may seem a bit prosaic or idealistic, it’s one of the best tips for cold winter weather. When I’ve been working outside for hours in cold weather, my wife kindly brings me some hot tea or warm soup, and in no time I’m feeling toasty! Not only is a cup of tea easy on the wallet, you can bring it with you to help you stay warm wherever you plan to go.
With a little effort and some creativity, you can keep your family warm throughout the winter without cranking up your home furnace and energy bills to astronomical levels.