Early winter is upon us! Even here in San Francisco, we are starting to feel the effects of cooler weather and darker days – and I’m sure many of our readers have already looked out the window and seen snow! Truth be told, I am a relatively recent transplant to the Bay Area and I do get a bit nostalgic when I think about the turning of the seasons I routinely experienced when living in the Midwest and Northeast. Mind you, not nostalgic enough to go back to the slush just yet.
While I may currently be a Californian, I grew up in Northern Vermont in an old farmhouse that to this day is heated entirely by the wood my family cuts off of our land and stacks, log by log, into winter heat you can measure by the cord. But farmhouses are drafty by nature, and growing up I learned a few things about winterizing that can be applied to any living situation.
1. Mind the Gaps!
Cold air has a way of slinking into your house through even the most imperceptible of spaces. Between the front / back door and the floor is a common culprit: use door snakes (or in a pinch, a towel) to keep drafts from coming in and jacking up your gas bill!
Drapes aren’t just for creepy old crones anymore! Inexpensive stores such as IKEA and Urban Outfitters, among many others, carry nifty looking heavy drapery that can make-over your apartment while keeping out cool window drafts. I’ve also used extra blankets with great success – but they generally don’t look super awesome.
3. Turn Down Your Hot Water
I know a scalding hot shower is particularly satisfying when it’s a bajillion degrees below zero out there – but by reducing the maximum temperature by 10 or 20 degrees, you can really save on your water-heating bill. Relatively speaking, it should still feel really hot! I promise.
4. Pre-set your Thermostat
By setting your Thermostat to automatically go down to a lower temperature when nobody is home (during work or school days, for example) or when everybody is likely asleep, you can save money and resources by limiting your gas or electricity use. If you’re anything like me and always freaking forget to turn the heat down when you leave the house, this can be a real cost-saver.
5. Caulking and Weatherstripping
Break out the big guns! These are very effective ways of filling small cracks and crevices, thus keeping your heat from leaking outside. Repair-home.com has a great DIY caulking guide – or your local hardware store could help you out if you are unsure how to go forward. Don’t heat the neighborhood!
6. Break out the Wool Socks and Sweaters!
Not only will you look and feel cozy in your wool, but you can turn the heat down a bit and still stay toasty warm. I have an incredibly soft fleece I wear over everything from October to April – it fits over big sweaters without feeling bulky. A $75 (or LESS!) investment in a nice outer layer can save hundreds in heating costs – especially over a couple of years.
7. Reverse your Ceiling Fan. Seriously!
Many people don’t realize that your ceiling fan can be reversed – to push warm heat down into the room and circulate colder air out. Just don’t forget to change it back when it gets warmer again!
8. Gas heat? Run a vaporizer or humidifier!
Adding some warm moisture to the air not only helps with winter dryness, but also tends to make a room feel warmer and more cozy – while saving on gas.
9. Hang blankets on Exterior Walls
Drapes can also work well for this scenario but the long and short of it is this: Exterior walls are colder than interior ones. Period. By insulating them, you can keep that cold from emanating inward. A drape or a cute blanket could really help keep you warm!
10. Stock up on Hot Tasty Treats!
What winter kitchen would be complete without a comforting collection of hot teas, cocoas, and maybe even some ‘additives’ for spiking hot drinks?! Nothing like a shot of bourbon on a cold day!