If you live in a part of the country where temperatures plunge in the winter, you might, on a daily basis, find yourself counting down the minutes until you’re done with work, errands and the many other obligations that put you face-to-face with harsh weather. In that case, creating a home environment that’s soothing and inviting could be just the thing that gets you through the winter months. Here are a few steps you can take to make your home warm and cozy for winter.
1. Invest in the Right Bedding
Let’s face it: Many of us spend less time in bed than we’d like. But it still pays to invest in bedding that lends to a comfortable night’s sleep during the winter.
Corinne Bentzen, general manager of HD Home and The Company Store who is based in the New York City area, suggests layering your top bedding to create a hotel-like feel in your bedroom. “Experimenting with a combination of quilts, comforters and throws can make it easy to adjust for changing temperatures and sleep needs,” she says.
Focusing on sheets is important, too. High-quality sheets “make a huge difference in your sleep and last longer after washing,” says Bentzen. You may want to consider flannel if you tend to get cold at night. Otherwise, you can look at cotton sheets with a higher thread count.
2. Incorporate the Right Lighting
The natural light we tend to enjoy during the warmer weather months is often more limited in winter — especially given how short the days can be. That’s why Bentzen suggests incorporating warmer shades of lighting into your space. “Switching out existing lightbulbs for warmer tones of lighting will effortlessly create a cozy glow in the entire room,” she says.
Bentzen also says that candles are a great addition during the winter. They not only add brightness, but their scents can add a true layer of comfort when the weather is harsh.
Have young kids or pets at home? You can swap standard candles for those that are battery-operated to avoid those open flames.
[READ:Ways to Brighten Your Home]
3. Go Heavy on Throw Blankets
Throw blankets are a low-cost accessory that can add texture to your living space. Not only can they be a source of instant warmth, but they can also serve as a nice layer of color if your furniture is more neutral-toned.
Your living room is a great place to add throw blankets, but you can even layer some on your bed for added warmth and design. And if you have a home library or study, drape one over a chair.
4. Cozy Up With Carpet
Danny Watson, an Atlanta-area-based home improvement expert at The Home Depot, says that homes can lose 10% to 20% of their heat through uninsulated flooring. That’s why you may want to install some carpet over wood or laminate floors. “Consider carpet installation in a downstairs room where heat can simply escape beneath the house, in rooms directly built above the garage, or in larger rooms that are naturally drafty,” he advises.
If you don’t want to deal with carpet installation, you can put down some area rugs instead. These might also allow you to incorporate design elements with a warm, fuzzy feel.
5. Invest In a Programmable Thermostat
Pumping up the heat at all times is a great way to keep your interior nice and toasty. But you may not love the sky-high utility bills that ensue. A better bet may be to invest in a programmable thermostat that will make it easy to adjust your settings based on usage and need.
With a programmable thermostat, you can arrange for your heat to come up right before you rise in the morning. And if you’re out of the home all day working, you can set your heat to kick in as you start your commute so your house is warm once you walk in the door.
6. Give Your Heating System a Tuneup
A programmable thermostat will only go so far if your heating system isn’t working properly. Before the cold weather truly sets in, have your heating system inspected and serviced by a reputable HVAC company, or do it yourself if you have the skills. You should also make a point to replace your system’s air filter, says Watson, if it’s been three months since you last did so.
7. Weatherproof Your Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are common places for warm air to escape. And they can also let unwanted cold air in. That’s why Watson suggests weatherproofing your doors and windows ahead of the winter season.
“Use foam, rubber or vinyl weather stripping around doors and windows to insulate areas where cracks can let cold air in, or heat is released out,” he says. And also, “replace your door seals, door sweeps or thresholds to keep cold outside air from seeping into your home.”
8. Invest In Space Heaters, but Operate Them Carefully
Space heaters are a great addition to drafty rooms, but they can create a fire hazard when used improperly. Watson says that if you’re going to buy a space heater, look for one with a tip-over shutoff function. That way, if your heater topples, it will turn itself off automatically.
Also, if you’re going to use a space heater, always place it on a hard, level surface, says Watson. And make sure to never leave a space heater unattended.
9. Make Good Use of Your Fireplace
There’s nothing like the warmth and glow of a fire to offer indoor comfort on the coldest of days. But whether you have a wood-burning fireplace or a gas one, Watson cautions that you should never leave a fire unattended. He also suggests investing in a fireplace screen, which can reduce the risk of injury around a fireplace.
It’s also really important to maintain your fireplace and have it cleaned and inspected before you start using it regularly. In addition, says Watson, “Have your chimney inspected and, if necessary, swept.” It’s a good way to ensure proper venting — and prevent fire damage.
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