How to Stay Warm (Cheaply) in the Coldest Winter in Years

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cold thermometerWe’re in the middle of what might be the coldest winter in 25 years. While some of our readers pay to heat their own homes, many city-dwellers don’t pay for heating gas, as it’s a law in many places (New York and Massachusetts, for instance, but check your own area for the fine print). Still, tenants do pay for heat via the electric bill when they use space heaters in their still-cold apartments! If you use your 1.5-kilowatt space heater for three months, you could be spending nearly $340 (approximated for New York City energy prices)! Aside from pestering your landlord to make it cozy-as-you-please, we present you with incredibly easy ways to keep it warm on a budget. Better, that is, than your grandma’s “just put on another sweater” technique.

As a side note, if your landlord truly doesn’t provide adequate heat, you can appeal to the law. New York City guidelines here; we recommend you research the laws for your location.

Get Insulated Drapes

Your windows are to blame for 25% of heat loss. So, while those flowing, lacy curtains might look pretty, trade them in during the winter for some insulated window coverings. Here is a pair for $55 (usually $100!) that we think is pretty.

Search and Destroy Air Leaks

The average home’s hidden air leaks are equal to a 9-ft by 9-ft hole in the wall. Besides door and window frames (the usual culprits), make sure to look for more stealthy criminals like outlets, cable and phone lines, dryer vents, air conditioners, and fans. We love this tip from the Department of Energy: “Light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke is sucked out of or blown into the room, there’s a draft.” Find those places, pick up a can of spray foam for about $20, and get to work.

Look Out for Yourself

Look at heaters that will focus on you rather than on heating a large space. For $14, try the Cozy Foot brand Foot Cover For Toasty Toes. It will keep your chilly feet warm and minimize your need for larger space heaters.

TOTAL ELECTRICITY SAVINGS: About $250 for the season

If you do pay your own heating bill, then read the following tips for ways to reduce it:

Move the Heat With You

If you use a space heater, make sure that it’s an energy-efficient one. Close doors behind you to keep in the heat, and move the heater with you from room to room. According to Good Housekeeping, you can save up to $200 by keeping the house at 62 degrees and simply warming rooms as you go. And, remember, cooking in the oven or a working fireplace is a free alternative to a space heater.

Vaporize Yourself

The added air moisture from a vaporizer lets you turn down the thermostat as much as 5 to 8 degrees. You’ll knock about 3% off your annual heating bill for every degree that you lower the temperature for the season. With the average heating bill approximately $1,000 per winter, you could save over $200 by snagging a vaporizer. Here’s one we like, for only $26.

Get Smart About Your Water

Most home water heaters are set to 140 degrees. If you turn it down to 120 degrees, you can cut about 10% from your bill—and it will likely feel exactly the same on your skin. By spending less than $20 on a water heater jacket, you can save 4% to 9% in water heating costs.

TOTAL GAS SAVINGS: About $200 for the season