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21 ways to stay warm in a cold house

Tips for keeping everyone cozy and warm in a cold house—no matter what the winter brings.

Tips for keeping everyone cozy and warm in a cold house—no matter what the winter brings.

It’s super chilly outside, and all you have to show for it is… an even colder house? Even if you love winter, no one signs up for winter temperatures indoors

Wondering how to stay warm in a cold house on a cold day? Well, we’ve got some ideas. 

In this guide, we’ll cover:

Indoor chills are no joke. And if you’re already dealing with seasonal problems like drafty rooms or preventing ice dams on your roof, a super-cold house just adds more stress.

And it’s not just discomfort that’s an issue, being (and staying) cold can be dangerous. In fact, cold air is often tough on the lungs, especially if you already deal with respiratory problems (1). 

Let’s get to solving the problem.

13 totally free (or super low-cost) ways to stay warm on a cold day

Congrats! You’ve made it to the first stop on your journey to staying warm. Here, we’ll focus on some simple how-tos to getting warmer now. 

Living in a super cold house in the winter is also a sign of another problem: You’re also wasting energy.

Did you know that traditional HVAC systems make up more than half of a the average home’s power use (2)? When you have to crank up the thermostat on a cold day, it directly shows up on your energy bills.

Good thing you’re still reading. These quick and easy, low-budget tips won’t break your pocketbook, they don’t take long to set up, and they may even help cut energy waste in your home

Here’s a high-level list. We’ll dig into each tip below:

  1. Wear fuzzy socks (and gloves if you have to!)
  2. Move the furniture
  3. Set a thermostat timer
  4. Use microwavable heating pads
  5. Wear layers
  6. Use your oven
  7. Reverse your ceiling fans
  8. Move around
  9. Let the sunshine in
  10. Change your filters
  11. Cut down on mini drafts
  12. Avoid running exhaust or bathroom fans
  13. Build an indoor fort

1. Wear fuzzy socks (and gloves!)

Cold feet and hands are one of the first ways your body reacts to the cold. And covering them is one of the quickest ways to regulate your blood flow—which helps warm you up!

Put on a pair of extra-warm wool socks or furry winter gloves. While you’re at it, throw on some fuzzy slippers, too. The more warm layers you wear, the better.

2. Move that sofa!

Couches, beds, and chairs can block radiators or return vents, which leads to blocked air flow and cold rooms. Move your sofa away from your vents to help heat flow through your home more easily and to help cut energy waste. Sounds simple? It is!

Too many rooms to rearrange? Learn how to heating a large house, efficiently.

3. Set a thermostat timer

Setting a timer means that your heating system can take a break when your house is at its right temperature. Plus, overworked heaters come with their own set of issues that you definitely want to avoid.

If you want to take this tip a step further (and put a little money behind it), we recommend getting a smart thermostat. Depending on where you live, you may have utility rebates available for this upgrade.

4. Use microwavable heating pads

Heating pads and hot water bottles are a low-cost quick fix for some extra warmth while you relax. Use them on your bare hands or under gloves and under socks on your feet. 

You can also go DIY and make your own—all you need is dried beans or uncooked rice and an old tube sock. Sow it up, and throw it in the microwave for 30-second intervals till you’re happy with the temperature.

5. Wear layers

Sweaters, jackets, and long johns can help you get warmer faster. In the winter, extra layers insulate your body and make braving the cold indoors a little less difficult. And who doesn’t love a nice and cozy ugly sweater around the holidays?

6. Turn on your oven (bake something nice!)

Mmm. Who knew the delicious scent of warm cookies floating through your house had an added benefit? Cook as often as you can to add some extra heat.

And if your oven is electric, you can even leave it on for a bit after your done cooking (not if you have a gas stove, though—that’s dangerous and mucks up indoor air quality, too).

7. Reverse your ceiling fans

Yes, turning on a ceiling fan in the winter might sound a bit absurd. But hear us out. 

When your fans turn clockwise at a slow speed, they actually help you stay warm by pushing rising hot air down. Give it a try!

8. Move around

Play cards, cook, exercise, clean. Doesn’t matter how you move—just move if you can! Movement generates body heat, so when you’re active, your body doesn’t get cold as easily.

9. Let the sunshine in

Open your blinds or curtains on sunny days to let the sun shine into your home. The sun’s rays will help warm up your house, but be sure to close them when it gets dark.

10. Change your filters 

Dirty air filters with a lot of dust and grime can block warm airflow moving into the rooms of your home. 

This leads to uneven temperatures and, you guessed it, cold rooms! Changing your air filters in your home heating system clears your air flow and can even cut energy waste.

11. Cut down on mini drafts

Did you know the same force that makes a hot-air balloon rise can make a house uncomfortable and waste a lot of energy? It’s called the stack effect, and you can beat it by blocking air leaks around your house. 

Make barriers to mini drafts coming from doggy doors, mail slots, openings under doors or windows, to name a few areas. You can even tack up old quilts in front of exterior doors to block cold air from coming in.

To solve your draft problem once and for all, though, you may need to call in the pros.

Check out our guide to what makes a house drafty for the next step on your draft-stopping quest.

12. Avoid running exhaust or bathroom fans.

Kitchen and bathroom fans are an important part of healthy airflow and moisture removal in your home. But if you’re trying to stay warm inside, leaving a bathroom fan on all day is simply sucking warm air out of your home and sending it straight through your attic.

If you can, minimize using these fans in winter. Run it while taking a shower to remove excess moisture, but turn it off promptly to keep heat from escaping.

13.  Build an indoor fort

If you have children, this can be a fun activity that also keeps everyone cozy. (But it’s fun for adults, too!)

Gather extra blankets—the more insulating the fabric, the better—and lay them across the living room furniture or throw them over the dining room tables and chairs. Then, have a movie night in an indoor tent fort with pillows, blankets, and cups of hot tea.

Ultimately, while these 13 tips can help you get warm quickly, they’re not a lasting solution.

(Although we must admit, the baking cookies and building a fort can be an enjoyable way to feel warm and toasty in a cold or warm house).

Should houses be cold—even with the heating on? How do you make a house warmer?

How can I make my house warmer in winter?

There are a few quick and easy ways to stay warm for free, like throwing on some socks or baking something delicious in your oven.

You can also invest in space heaters, thermal curtains, flannel sheets, and draft stoppers—which we’ll discuss below—but those are all temporary fixes that don’t solve the underlying issue. 

The best way to stay warm in a cold house is permanently warming it up with a combination of professional air sealing, insulation, and heat pump upgrades. 

Find out how to get weatherization upgrades at no upfront cost with Sealed. 

5 short-term, low-cost ways to warm up inside

Still cold after trying some gratis home-warming tips?

Here are 5 low-cost ways to warm up inside ’til you’re ready for more permanent solutions:

  1. Run a space heater
  2. Install thermal curtains
  3. Use flannel sheets
  4. Place draft blockers and stoppers along your doors
  5. Weatherstrip your doors and windows

1. Space heaters

Space heaters are a solid temporary fix for a cold room. Keep it running till you’re warm, or plug and unplug in different rooms depending on where you hang out at home.

Be sure you don’t leave these heaters idle, though. Leaving on a space heater for just 8 hours a day can add $42.30 to your electric bill every month (3)! And they can be a fire hazard, too.

2. Install thermal curtains

Thermal curtains can be a decent short-term fix for uneven temperatures and drafts around your windows. They work by blocking air that likes to seep in around your windows—and they actually help your house stay warm, unlike the classic plastic window insulation kits

Read on to get the low-down on the pros and cons of thermal curtains with our detailed guide.

Shot of a young man opening up the curtains in a bedroom at home

3. Use flannel sheets

Cotton or micro flannel sheets are not your average bed sheets. Flannel traps heat in the insulating pockets of its fabric, which helps you feel more snug and warm than, say, a light cotton sheet. 

While you’re at it, you might want to invest in a weighted blanket. Not only will it help keep you warm, it’s also been known to help people sleep through the night—you won’t even be thinking about the cold!  

4. Place draft blockers and stoppers along your doors

If your house is cold in the winter, odds are you’ve got quite a few drafts rolling in from the outside. A small way to block those drafts is with blockers and stoppers at your doors, where air seeps through. 

Pro-tip: Caulking is an inexpensive way to fill gaps around your entryways that draft blockers might not reach. And in the summer, it can keep cool air inside, as well as block out bugs!

5. Weatherstrip your doors and windows

Hey DIY-ers, this one’s for you.

Weatherstripping is the process of attaching seals around your doors and windows and any noticeable cracks in your home to fill air gaps. 

It can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 and if all goes well, you will definitely notice a difference!

Weatherstripping wears away over time. But since it’s not too expensive or difficult to do,  you can refresh your home’s weatherstripping until you’re able to make more permanent changes.

3 long-term fixes to keep warm in the winter—for good

Being a homeowner has a ton of perks, but dealing with comfort woes definitely isn’t one of them. 

Make your life a bit easier with three long-term winter comfort fixes that can help your home stay cozy and waste less energy year-round:

  1. Heat pumps: The most energy-efficient home heating system out there
  2. Air sealing: The way to stop cold winter drafts for good
  3. Insulation: The right fix for keeping heat inside your home

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are the Tesla of HVAC options. They work in the winter by moving heat from the outside into your home. And in the summer, they reverse the process, cooling your home by moving indoor heat outside

Heat pumps are proven to be 3 times more energy efficient than traditional home heating systems (4). Studies show it’s not just the energy savings people love.

In fact, 81% of homeowners see an uptick in home comfort after trading fossil fuel heaters for renewable-based heating systems (5).

Check out our ultimate heat pump guide for more info.  

81% of homeowners see an uptick in home comfort after trading fossil fuel heaters for renewable-based heating systems like heat pumps!

Coolproducts 2022 heat pump study

Air sealing

Houses take in air from the outside through open seams, gaps, cracks, and fixtures throughout the structure. (It’s like keeping a window open year-round!) 

Sealing all of the air leaks in your home will keep the heat out in the summer and the cold out in the winter.

A properly and professionally sealed home also improves your air quality and lowers humidity levels.

Insulation

High-performance insulation protects your home against uneven temperatures and unwanted drafts.

Plus, it also keeps out unwanted noise and can even cut down on your home’s energy waste.

Check out our comprehensive insulation guide to make sure your home’s insulation stands up to every test. 

Tired of freezing in your own home? We can help

High performance insulation, air sealing, and cold climate heat pumps will keep your home feeling great all year long. 

At Sealed, we’re so confident that these three upgrades will cut your energy waste that we’ll foot the bill up front. If we don’t help you lower your energy use, we don’t get paid. 

So, the easy answer to How to stay warm in a cold house? Call Sealed to see if you can get these 3 upgrades at no upfront cost.

See if your home qualifies by taking our fun 2-minute quiz.

man installing indoor mini split heat pump unit

And here’s a bonus if you get comfort upgrades with Sealed!

For a limited time, NY homeowners could be eligible for thousands off their project costs with rebates.

And ALL homeowners from any of our serviceable regions will get a FREE Google Smart Home Kit (~$250 value) with their installation!

See if you qualify.

Free offer valid with Sealed home upgrade packages until December 31, 2022.

Common questions about how to stay warm on a cold day

Check out this list of FAQs below.

Still have unanswered questions about warming up a cold house? Call us at 917-905-3788.

Why is my house so cold even with the heating on?

So your heat is on, but you’re still shivering inside? There are a few reasons why your house is so cold even when you’re heater is running: air leaks in your house are likely causing cold drafts, insufficient insulation is allowing paid-for heat to escape, and a tired home heating system may be overworked.

The good news is each of these problems have a solution. 

Upgrading to high performance insulation, air sealing your home, and installing efficient heat pumps can make your home feel better year-round, no matter the weather.

We take care of everything: creating your custom plan, hiring certified home performance contractors, and (most importantly) making sure the work gets done right. See for yourself.

Want to learn more? 

How do you keep a poorly insulated room warm?

Poorly insulated rooms lead to uneven temperatures and a drafty, uncomfortable home. The best fix for faulty insulation is to replace it with upgraded insulation throughout your home. Insulation wears down over time, and depending on the type of insulation, it may need a replacement by the time it reaches its tenth birthday.

But in the meantime, you can try quick or temporary fixes like thermal curtains, area rugs, and DIY-weatherizing to help dampen the cold. Tap here to see our full list of tips on how to stay warm in a cold house.

Got cold floors? Check out Why are my floors so cold? to learn how to fix it.

What can I put on my walls to keep them warm?

Wall tapestries are similar to area rugs. They can act as a sort of insulation on your walls, but they’re definitely not as strong as professional insulation upgrades.

Still, if you’re a renter or you’d like a more budget-friendly way to warm up your walls until you’re ready to replace your attic and basement insulation, large tapestries can help. 

How can I cold-proof my house?

Cold-proofing is also known as winter-proofing or weatherizing. With modern and efficient air sealing and insulation improvements—along with HVAC upgrades (if your system is losing efficiency)—you can make your home feel comfortable and minimize heat loss throughout the winter.

Heat escape is a very real thing: Your home is losing heat if it’s not properly insulated and air sealed. But it can be fixed.

With whole-home weatherization, you aren’t just cold-proofing your home, you’re weatherproofing it for all seasons! And it can help you stay cooler in summer, too.

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Check out our FREE home comfort guide

Learn how 3 core efficiency upgrades can keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

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October 28, 2022