On a cold, blustery winter day, the last thing anyone wants to do is come home from work to a drafty, unwelcoming house. Most people just crank up the thermostat, but this can very quickly add up to high heating bills. And when homes are poorly insulated or have drafty doors and windows, even bumping up the heat doesn't quite do the trick.
Here are three ways to make your home warm and cozy this winter, from simple touches of decor to some minor home improvement.
Little touches can make a big difference. Keeping plenty of blankets and pillows in your living room area, for example, is an easy way to cozy up the space. Prevent cold feet by placing rugs on cold hardwood or tile floors and keeping a pair of slippers by your bed. Hang thick curtains that you can close at night to add a simple layer of insulation.
If you tend to miss the green of summer and spring, houseplants can go a long way in livening up your home during the gray months. It's crucial to select durable ones that can survive the winter, such as ferns, moss, cacti or succulents, writes Katie Holdefehr, senior editor at Real Simple.
Layered lighting is also key to creating a warm ambiance, according to Becky Harris in an article for Houzz. Lamps of various heights, light dimmers, fairy lights and candles can brighten up your house. Lighting a scented candle you love will also make you feel more at home.
Upgrade your windows
Cold glass, poor seals, drafts and leaks caused by cold weather and precipitation in the winter can make your house uncomfortable by letting in cold air, according to the Department of Energy. Further, window frames can rot, fail and even grow mold over time. All this will not only make your home less inviting in the winter, but will drive up your energy costs.
Cracks or openings in the frames can leave your home vulnerable to nasty winter storms. It's better to be prepared and replacing old windows will ensure you're ready to withstand bad weather. The costs of faulty windows far outweigh those of hiring a dealer to upgrade your windows.
Windows like those from Utah-based AMSCO Windows meet the highest standards for energy efficiency and carry a limited lifetime warranty. Manufactured locally for more than 60 years, it's easy to find a nearby dealer that can offer you better-insulated windows that maintain warmth and reduce the need for heating.
Insulate your home — and pipes
Drafty walls will make certain parts of your home colder, meaning you'll have to turn up the heat more, increasing your bills. This is unnecessary, as you can easily insulate your walls to trap heat for more consistent temperatures and lower bills.
It's especially vital to add insulation to older houses. Insulating attics, pipes, cathedral ceilings, exterior walls, floors above garages, house foundations and basements can all reduce costs and increase comfort, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Further, wall insulation can also help reduce moisture condensation from water usage, preventing the growth of rot and mildew. And insulating your water pipes can help prevent them from freezing and bursting, which can cause upwards of $5,000 in damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. Insulating pipes can cost as little as 50 cents per linear foot, according to IBHS.
You can't do anything to change the cold winter weather that will soon be here, but you can take these steps to help keep the cold at bay.