We know how quickly winter creeps in. One moment it’s bermuda shorts, barbecues and, for the lucky few, weekends at the lake. Then, all of a sudden, the leaves turn golden and fall, pumpkin spice fills the air and talk turns to the holidays. But for all the joy that the season brings, it also comes accompanied by a bitter cold front and with that a burlap sack full of rain, wind, and snow.
Of course, there are snowball fights, mugs of hot chocolate and nights in to look forward to. Though when the wind winds through the house, draughts drive under doors, sat at home with chattering teeth and frozen feet, there’s not much fun to be had.
Sure, you could just crank up the heat – but with that your bills are going to rise and your carbon footprint grow. So what else can you do? Thankfully we have a whole heap of tips to stay warm in the winter months without having to burn more gas or start up those electric heaters.
Minimize Heat Loss at Home
First of all let’s look at how to minimise heat loss and keep that hot air in.
Insulate Your Windows
Unsurprisingly, windows are a big area of heat loss in your home with some estimates suggesting that 10% of all heat goes their way. Two thirds of the energy lost is due to heat radiated through the glazing, with the rest a result of conduction through the frame, and air leakages around the window.
So what can you do about this? Well, installing drapes or blinds is the first step to take. This will prevent the majority of heat loss through radiation.
Next up, check around the frame for any draughts. These can be sealed using inexpensive, self-adhesive foam strips though they may not last too long. Metal or plastic strips complete with brushes present a more costly, but more effective solution. Additionally you can plug up any air gaps with a thermal sealant.
Do be aware that many windows will be installed with controlled ventilation. This lets fresh air in which reduces condensation and damp – so make sure you’re not covering up those vents!
Draft-proof Your Doors
Another way to keep the warm air in and the cold air out is draft-proofing your doors. Whether it’s a cold gust creeping under frame or wind whistling through the keyhole, there are a couple of simple solutions you can install.
Install a Draft Blocker
The gap between the bottom of the door and the frame tends to be the largest, and so installing a brush strip, draft blocker, or hinged flap here will greatly reduce drafts. These can be bought at most hardware and DIY stores and installed by simply cutting the strip down to size and screwing it into place.
Install Foam Strips
Designed to be installed around the inside of the frame, foam strips close the space between the door and the frame ensuring there are no air gaps. Likewise, there are smaller brush strips designed to be installed in the slim gaps around the sides of the door.
The most cost-effective solution to draft-exclusion, silicone sealant can be fixed around the frame. Just be careful not to seal yourself in!
Seal the Keyhole
Keyholes are easily draught-proofed by installing an escutcheon plate on the outside of the door. You can pick one up for just a couple of bucks and install it yourself in a couple of minutes.
Insulate that Attic
Uninsulated homes can expect around to lose a quarter of the heat to escape the building through the roof. This means that insulating your attic space can not only improve coziness in the winter months, but help make for major savings on energy bills. In fact, with loft insulation taking relatively little wear and tear it should last many years, paying for itself in energy bill savings many times over.
Laying Attic Insulation
As long as you’re not trying to insulate a flat roof, there are no condensation problems, and you have safe access to the attic, it’s relatively easy to lay insulation yourself. There are a variety of insulation types such as mineral wool which you can purchase, cut to size and simply roll out between the floor joists.
Floorboards should be installed on top of the insulation to ensure maximum thermal efficiency—and you get the added benefit of being able to walk around the attic..
Insulating the Roof
When it comes to insulating the actual roof—the most significant point of heat loss in winter—foam, fiberglass, or wool insulation should be installed between, and rigid insulation boards installed over the rafters.
As it’s a pretty big job, we highly recommend using an insulation specialist to make sure it’s done right.
Hard to Reach Areas
Attics can be odd shapes, with awkward little nooks and crannies jutting here and there releasing the heated air. If this is the case in your property, professionals can blow appropriate insulation such as mineral wool or treated cellulose into those oddly-shaped areas.
What to Do with a Flat Roof
When it comes to insulating a flat roof, this should be done from above. To do this you need to install a layer of insulation board on top of the roof’s current weatherproof layer, and add another layer after to seal the roof. Again, this is a job we’d recommend hiring a professional to do.
Sealing Leaky Ductwork
Experiencing hot and cold spots in your home? Are your air filters getting clogged at an alarming rate? How about your HVAC system—have you had to repair it of late? If so, you may have leaky ductwork. Now all you need to do is locate where the leak is and seal it.
Unfortunately—and as long as it’s safe—you’re going to have to inspect your ducts to locate where the leak is located. When you do find the leak you have a few options available to you:
Seal the air gap using HVAC tape
Apply mastic sealer using a caulking gun or paintbrush
Get a professional to seal the duct using a product like Aeroseal
Sealing underground ducts or ducts that are unreachable by hand will likely require a professional team to conduct the work.
Tips to Keep the House Warm Without Heat
Seal Off Drafty Rooms
It’s not just weatherproofing your front door that will keep your home nice and cozy in the winter months. Installing weather stripping around doors and using draft excluders under doors will prevent warm air wandering into unheated rooms.
Use Your Ceiling Fans Wisely
Switching the direction your ceiling fan runs will force warm air back down into the room. To maximize efficiency, set the fan speed to low. You should also consider installing a fan at the top of your staircases to force warm air that rises through the floors back down to you.
Get a Smart Thermostat
Installing a smart thermostat will allow you to program your home’s heating system to fit around your routine. Through apps and smart heating controls, you can ensure that your home is warm only when you need it to be. The ecobee is our preferred smart thermostat. It works with all the major smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, and you can control it from your phone even if you’re not home. Learn more about smart thermostats.
It’s been a long day, your eyes are feeling heavy and you’re ready for sleep. Then, just as you get under the covers you’re greeted by cruelly cold sheets. Electric blankets to the rescue! Simply switching the blanket on for 10 minutes before you’re going to bed will create the coziest cradle to rock you to sleep.
Heated Mattress Pads
In the same vein, a heated mattress pad will save you costs on your heating bill to make your bed warm at night. Simply fit the mattress pad under your topsheet and turn it on for a few minutes before you hit the hay.
Wrap up Warm
Perhaps the most obvious addition to this list, wrapping up warm will be sure to increase those coziness levels. Crucially it’s layers that you want to wear rather than just thicker clothes. This is because air trapped between the layers of your clothes serve as thermal insulation. It’s also easy to shed a layer or two if you’re being active in the house and don’t want to overheat and sweat—which will make you much colder as soon as you stop moving.
And there you have it. Our top tips to keep your house warm in winter without having to crank up the heating.