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One of the best ways to brace yourselves for the onset of cold weather, winter storms, and high heating bills is to get your home ready for cold weather. And this is one of the nicest parts: quite a few of the cozy touches that you add are also delightful and decorative.
When summer begins to fade into fall, it’s the best time to begin preparing for the advent of winter weather. None of these tasks are particularly difficult, but they can be a little time-consuming. Waiting until the last minute usually means that you’ll end up fighting the crowds who have also rushed to the store or that you’ll be going without something that could have made your power outage a lot more comfortable.
As they say on Game of Thrones, “Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.”
Here are a few ideas that will make you snug and safe during the cold months that lie ahead.
- Check your windows and doors. Make sure that they are in good condition and fit well. Drafts will not only make you uncomfortable but will let heat escape from the house. Now is the time to replace them if necessary.
- Reduce the draftiness of your windows. If you can’t afford to replace your windows (or if you are a renter) you can still do several things to reduce the drafts from older windows. Caulk gaps between frames and brickwork and replace any damaged panes. If you live in an older home with single pane windows, apply window insulation film to help make them more weather tight. Finally, purchase or make fabric draft stoppers to place at the bottoms of your windows.
- Break out the heavy drapes. Heavy curtains are more than just a decorative way to welcome colder weather. When you pull them shut at night, they can help to keep warm air in and keep cold air outside where it belongs.
- Use draft stoppers on external doors. (My favorite for doors that aren’t used all the time is this “twin” stopper that goes on both the inside and outside for double protection.)
- Check entrances to the attic and the basement. Treat these openings exactly like exterior doors. A great deal of heat can escape through the edges, and the cold from these unheated rooms can seep into the rest of the house if gaps are present. Seal them tightly with weatherstripping foam tape and draft blockers.
- Stock up on fuel for your fireplace or woodstove. If you have a way to heat with wood, make sure you have adequate fuel, that it is cut to size, and that it is well seasoned. Dry wood produces less creosote and lessens the chance of chimney fires.
- Do you have enough quilts and blankets? That may sound like a silly question but you would be surprised how many people move to colder regions and haven’t considered this. Take the time now to launder them so that they are fresh and clean in the event of an emergency.
- Make sure you have enough games and things to do. Sometimes the weather is just too bad to play outside. Be sure to have indoor activities ready. If there is a chance you will all be at home for an extended time without power, it’s even more important in our digital world. Children get very bored when the initial excitement of three feet of snow has worn off, especially if their usual entertainment requires electrical power or internet access. And don’t forget the grown-ups. Keep books and craft supplies on hand for the adults too!
- Invest in cute wooly socks and slippers. Keeping your feet toasty warm will help you maintain your body temperature in cold weather, especially if you have floors instead of carpets.
- Hang up some hoodies. Have hoodies or sweaters for everyone to put on so that you can keep the thermostat turned down a little bit lower. Keep them easily accessible so that it’s a simple tasks to get cozy.
- Check your food supply. Do you have enough basic supplies for a couple of weeks without a trip to the store if the weather is bad and the roads are dangerous?
- Make sure your snow shovel is in good condition. Repair or replace if not.(This ergonomic one is easier on the back.)
- Store some de-icing supplies. Rock salt can help melt ice on sidewalks and driveways, and the grit provides extra traction for safer walking.
- Make sure you have several good-sized thermoses. You can fill a thermos with hot drinks or soup to reduce the need to reheat throughout the day.
- Keep lids on warm beverages. Break out the travel mugs to keep your coffee or cocoa hot for longer.
- Stock up on prescription and over the counter medications. Make sure you have enough necessary medications and basic OTCs to last through an extended storm. Consider also feminine hygiene products, diapers, and any special needs items that infirm family members may require.
- Check your pipes. Are pipes that are on the exterior of the house or against outer walls properly protected from the cold? If a water pipe freezes, it can rupture, causing an enormous mess (and expense) when it thaws.
- Make sure walkways and driveways are clear of debris. Pick up downed branches, clear off leaves, and make sure that walkways are clear. This will make your life much easier when shoveling snow.
- Put candles on display. Part of your fall/winter décor may include candles. While decorative, they’ll also be handy in the event of a power outage by providing immediate light. (Be sure to keep a lighter nearby.)
- Decorate your living areas with cozy throws. Soft, fuzzy blankets not only look inviting, but they can also help keep your heat bill down when nobody is able to resist curling up under them.
How do you get your home ready for cold weather?
Do you have anything special that you do to make life a little cozier in the winter? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.
11 thoughts on “20 Cozy Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather”
Great ideas! I open curtains on sunny days to let the heat from sunlight in. When making hot tea, I add more water to the kettle than needed, then the left over water is allowed to steam the room. The moisture makes you feel warmer! After baking and the oven is off, I purposely leave the oven door open to allow the extra heat into the room. During coldest temps, I leave faucet dripping inside to ward off frozen pipes.
If you drink soda, two liter soda bottles have secure caps and make great hot water bottles. Under the covers they stay hot all night. You can put them in a pillowcase or even sew a flannel cover (super cozy). We use them for our feet when it’s cold in the bedroom, and also put two in the cat’s bed. When our husky was alive we even put them in the doghouse on very cold nights. They don’t leak even if kids kick them out of bed, and they can be reused indefinitely. A dollar on sale isn’t much for a hot water bottle, and you get to drink the contents for a party too.
Greatly appreciate your helpful articles and insight in these difficult times. Keep up the good work !
I like to be sure to have plenty of hot beverages and hot cereal on hand, and I make soup frequently, canned and from scratch. I put blankets on the sofa for throw covers, keeping extras for snuggling up in watching TV. I do all the baking it was too hot to do during the summer.
To protect outside water faucets I like to use mechanics’ trouble lights with “rough service” incandescent light bulbs inside. The incandescents throw off useful heat that the newer LEDs and curly fries bulbs do not. And the “rough service” feature (which I get from Home Depot…) means that those bulbs can stand banging around a lot better than standard incandescents. The final trick is to enclose such a trouble light inside some kind of container to keep the wind out. If the faucet is piped coming up out of the ground, I use an overturned waste basket to enclose the trouble light. If the faucet is coming out horizontally from a wall, I rig whatever other kind of container (on a raised platform if needed) with a foam piece on the container edges to better seal the enclosed the trouble light therein.
Then I only need to switch power on to those heating bulbs whenever the weather forecast sees a dip coming below freezing. I’ve never had this system fail even after many years of use.
The gift shop in the British Museum sold a hot water bottle cozy. I made one from a wool sweater I felted by washing it in hot water, then put it in the dryer until it shrank. Cut out front and back tracing your hot water bottle for a pattern on newspaper. You can get fancy by using a sweater with a picture, mine has a sheep. I use the bottom edge and cut the back in 2 pieces, big enough to overlap. Then the bottle tucks inside like a pillow into a sham.
I get Carlson’s Lemon-flavored Cod liver oil, so I have lots of vitamin D and do not get sick in the winter. That will be especially important this year, because masks concentrate germs and there with be TB and pneumonia and other stuff going around. It will get called Covid, but whatever it is, you don’t want illness.
With item #13, rock salt. I prefer to use calcium chloride for several reasons:
1 – It works in really cold temperatures, down to 25 degrees below zero.
2 – When it comes in contact with water that (the ice it has melted) it generates more heat to speed the melting process.
3 – It is far less harmful to concrete, metal and plants than plain old Sodium chloride (rock salt).
You can get it at Lowes and Home Depot. Many farm coop stores (Southern States, Agpro) also carry it. Some independent hardware stores in the Ace family carry it. It can be found on-line but the shipping cost for a 50 pound bag can really hurt.
Check the insulation in. your attic! When I bought my house I didn’t check that and it was woefully inadequate. I’m trying to upgrade it myself but it’s a big job and is taking too long.
Great tips in the article and comments. I’ve learned to freeze meat from sales throughout the year and then pressure can them during the cold days. The canning process heats up the house and I can empty and pull the plug on at least one freezer. One less appliance to worry about if the power goes out during a storm.
If I get cold while sleeping, I put on a knitted cap. Covering my head when I’m cold always helps.
We keep a heavy duty large pot filled with water on top our wood stove. We also run a small fan behind the stove to help blow the radiant heat farther into the house.