Like it or not, winter weather is upon us. Winter can be a beautiful season: the shorter days promoting togetherness with friends and family enjoying time inside together to stay warm, the glittering snow and frost twinkling in the morning light as you step out into the crisp air, and of course all the holidays that happen during the winter months. But winter can also be brutal, bringing with it sub-zero temperatures, long nights, and dangerous icy and snowy conditions.
This year enjoy the best of winter while fighting against the worst by preparing your apartment for the frigid weather for pennies on the dollar. Read on for six tips to winterize your apartment on a budget.
- Optimize your heating system.
There are two main types of heating systems for renters: boilers and central furnaces. If your building is heated via a boiler, you’ll have radiators throughout your apartment, versus vents and a thermostat if your building has central furnaces. In either case, you can optimize your heating system in several ways. For example, make sure no heavy furniture is blocking radiators or vents to promote better airflow. You can also contact your property manager if you’re not sure if your system is working properly.
- Minimize drafts.
Even if your heating system is working to the best of its abilities, there’s only so much it can do against frigid drafts. As temperatures start to drop there are several areas to check for drafts. While you may never be able to prevent all drafts, if you hold your hand to any spot and feel significant airflow that’s an area you can address. Windows and doors are the obvious first places to check, but you should also feel around electrical outlets, any vents, or other spots that lead outside. Certain areas may require a maintenance visit, for example, if you can see any cracks or significant holes, but for most spots that need attention you can take care of it yourself with draft guards you can buy inexpensively or make yourself with rolled-up towels.
- Utilize curtains.
You’d be surprised how much heat escapes even the most solid of windows. By adding an extra layer of cloth as a barrier you can eliminate a significant amount of heat loss, keeping the warmth inside where it belongs. Don’t forget to keep your curtains open during the day, though! That allows the sunshine to come through to warm the rooms naturally and support your heating system, keeping it from running unnecessarily.
- Use what you have more effectively.
While there are some items you can purchase like draft guards and curtains, you should also take a look at what you already have and optimize it. For example, if you have ceiling fans, reverse their direction. As we all learned in elementary school science, warm air rises. In the summer months, you want ceiling fans to pull the warm air upward away from the living area, but in the winter you’ll want to reverse the airflow and have the fans push the warm air downward. Also notice any areas like closets or pantries that aren’t heated (and don’t need to be) and keep those doors shut as much as possible.
- Add some humidity to the air.
Again going back to basic science (or even personal experience), humid air feels warmer. The more water in the air — that is, the more humid the air — the more heat sticks around. Dry air can also spread certain germs faster, which could be one reason more people get colds and other sicknesses in the winter months. You don’t have to buy an expensive humidifier, though (unless you really want to). Simply keeping an inexpensive portable humidifier in whatever room you’re in can help immensely, or, an even cheaper option, skip the dryer when doing laundry and pull out a drying rack to act as a natural humidifier as your clothes dry.
- Redecorate for warmth.
Natural wood flooring is beautiful, but it can get very cold during the winter months. Just like adding a layer of curtains in front of a window can help heat from escaping through the window, adding area rugs can drastically increase the warmth in a room. Also keep in mind walls, especially those on the outside of a building. Hanging pictures or placing heavy furniture along the wall can be that small barrier that can make all the difference.