If your freezing room features a fireplace that you don't keep burning most days or evenings, plug it with a chimney balloon between uses. This inflatable bag fits above the firebox and, when pumped up, prevents warm air from escaping the room and cool drafts from coming down the chimney. When you're planning to enjoy the fireplace, the chimney balloon comes down easily—just deflate and store the balloon until the next time you wish to employ it.
Some out-of-sight fans can be heroes in under-heated rooms. If yours is a forced-air system, try using duct booster fans to pull heated area more efficiently into the conditioned spaced. Such fans activate automatically whenever the furnace kicks on. With a great number and variety of models on the market, there are options to suit any household. Some plug into outlets, while others are hardwired. Simplest of all is a boost fan that sits on top of (or replaces) a register grille, conveniently plugging into an adjacent wall outlet while a built-in thermostat controls its operation.
Window of Opportunity
Chances are that when you installed your window treatments, you were focused on privacy and decorative style, not keeping the house warm. But the fact is that thicker curtains can perform the valuable wintertime service of limiting the heat loss that would otherwise naturally occur through windows. That's why many savvy homeowners choose thermal-lined curtains. A do-it-yourself alternative is to sew fleece or flannel onto the back side of the existing window treatments. During the day, though, don't forget to draw open the curtains to allow for solar heat gain.
The Radiant Alternative
For a truly transformative upgrade, state-of-the-art radiant heating systems efficiently inject immediate and consistent comfort into any space. While the standard stop-and-start style of forced-air heat can swing the temperatures from cozy one minute to chilled the next, the boiler-warmed water that flows through tubing in panels underneath your floors quickly and steadily provides even heat throughout the entire room. With panels installed by Warmboard, an industry leader, homeowners can warm their rooms to a steady 70 degrees within 20 minutes. And if the prospect of consistent, "everywhere" warmth isn't compelling enough on its own, these panels can layer neatly under wool carpets, tile, marble, and even hardwood floors for a completely invisible system that won't disrupt the aesthetics of your space. Make the switch this season, and your toes—and eyes—will thank you.
If you dread getting out of bed in the morning solely because of that awful sensation when your toes first hit the ice-cold floor, you're onto something. According to the National Energy Foundation, uninsulated floors account for as much as 10 percent of heat loss. The quickest shortcut for a warmer interior? Cover up bare floors with an area rug, or several layered rugs, to keep your feet from freezing and the ambient temperature from falling uncomfortably lower.
Another unlikely helper for chilly rooms may already be mounted to your ceiling—the overhead fan. Set to run in reverse, it can be as much help spreading heat in the winter as it is in cooling the space off in high summer. Simply flip the switch on the motor housing, so the the blades spin clockwise, then set the fan to low. Because warm air rises, the spinning blades gently nudge heat down toward the chilly areas below. Strategically placed, a ceiling fan even works to draw heat into a cold room from a toastier space—say, an adjacent room with a fireplace or space heater.
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