Although it doesn’t get super cold in Los Angeles, it does get chilly (really, it does.) I don’t like to crank up the thermostat, so I’ve come up with a few other ways to keep warm in the fall and winter.
Check for Drafts
Check your doors and windows for cracks or drafts before it gets wet out. Seal them or repair them now so the warm air doesn’t escape and the cold air doesn’t blow through them. If you rent and live in a colder climate, either ask your landlord to do it or ask to be reimbursed for your repair costs.
Put on a Sweater, Socks, and a Hat
It doesn’t get cold enough inside to require a ski cap, but I do bundle up in a sweater and socks throughout the fall and winter. You lose the most heat through your feet and head, so simply covering them helps retain body heat.
Use a Blanket
Not just in bed, although I’ve been known to pile them on there, too. I keep two chenille throws on the sofa and bundle up in one while watching TV. It keeps me warm and sometimes entices my cats to share their body heat with me, too.
Use Space Heaters
I don’t like to turn up the heat in the middle of the day. Instead I keep a small space heater under my desk. I turn it on for just a few minutes to warm my tootsies up, and then turn it off again to save energy. Avoid using space heaters while you’re asleep, though. Every year the news reports the death of at least one family whose space heater caught fire during the night.
Clear the Vents
Remove the vent covers and vacuum the vents. If you have stuff piled on the vents or furniture placed over them, move both. The vents should have clear airflow throughout the room so they operate the most efficiently.
Replace the Filter
The filter in your heating/cooling unit should be replaced every six months, at least. We replace ours around the equinoxes, but you could also do it at New Year’s and July 4. Replacing or cleaning the filter improves the unit’s efficiency, especially if you have pets.
Call for Maintenance
Don’t wait until the dead of winter to call for maintenance. If you haven’t had your system checked out in a couple years, schedule a service call before the winter rush to stay warm and save money.
Cover the Floors
If you have hardwood floors, the cold wood can be really hard on your body first thing in the morning. Instead, lay area rugs around the bed or keep slippers nearby so at least your feet will be warm when you wake up.
Light a Fire
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, check Freecycle or Craigslist for free firewood, and then burn it all winter long. One warning: do not attempt to burn green wood or pine wood. Both are fire hazards. You also shouldn’t attempt to heat your living space with a gas-only fireplace (ceramic logs). Although they’re pretty, they’re very inefficient at heating a home.
Use the Drapes and Blinds Properly
In the morning, open drapes over south-facing windows to let in the light and warmth. Close all your drapes in the evening to trap the warmth inside.
Replace the Windows
If you have older, single-pane windows, hang storm windows to add insulation. You might also consider replacing all of your windows with new windows designed for your region. The right type will vary, but it can save you energy and money for years to come. New windows will also usually come with new frames, which will solve the draft problem. Depending on the windows you choose, you may also qualify for a tax deduction.
Replace the Heating/Cooling Unit
If you have an older home, you may also have an old heating/cooling system. Not only are these inefficient, they also cost more to run. These units are expensive to replace, but you may be qualify for local, state, and federal tax deductions to help cover the cost. You’ll also find that your energy bill drops when the old monster is replaced with a new Energy Star model. If your home uses heating oil, consider an alternative like a pellet stove or wood-burning stove.
Really. Exercise gets your blood pumping and warms you from the inside out. Sure, you can’t exercise all night, but you should stay warm for at least an hour afterward. And you’ll stay in shape for spring.
Hopefully these tips will help you keep warm all fall and winter despite the rapidly rising cost of energy. Do you have additional tips? Share them in the comments.