Relax your interior decorating scheme. It's wise to consider more sweeping improvements, but don't ignore the power of modest details to help foster a cozy ambience. Start by exchanging bright, cool overhead lights for the subdued glow of table and floor lamps. Meanwhile, cover bare floors with area rugs, and outfit seating areas with blankets and throw pillows. And if your home suffers from uneven heating, consider altering your furniture arrangement to bring the seating areas closer to the source of heat, be it a radiator, baseboard unit, or forced-air vent.
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- 6 Steps to a Cozy Winter Home
6 Steps to a Cozy Winter Home
Set the Scene
Get with the Program
Install a programmable thermostat. Budget-conscious homeowners seek any opportunity to spend less on heating. The tricky part is to save without compromising comfort. Here, a programmable thermostat can be a tremendous ally, automatically helping you achieve two things at once—toasty temperatures and manageable costs. Simply set the unit to run on your family's schedule, so the heat will turn itself up when you wake up in the morning or return home at night, and back down when you go to sleep or leave the house for the day. You may never feel any difference, but you'll probably notice the difference in your bills.
Seal doors and windows. Drafts are the enemy of a cozy home, as nothing quite so quickly steals comfort as a jolt of cold air. Most of the time, dodging drafts means plugging up any cracks and crevices around openings to the outdoors. Caulk and weatherstripping commonly remedy such issues, but direct measures like door sweeps and so-called "draft snakes" also do the trick. To cut down further on heat loss from windows, you may even decide to put up plastic insulation film or, for that matter, curtains. First, determine where exactly drafts are entering your house; the locations of the problem areas may suggest their own solutions.
Be a Heat-Keeper
Insulate the attic. Insulation helps stop drafts throughout the house. In the attic specifically, however, insulation provides an additional benefit. Here, it works to prevent the common phenomenon of heat escaping through the roof. As insulating the attic tends to be easy, at least compared with doing so elsewhere, there's no good reason to hesitate. You may even be able to handle the job yourself. The benefits are twofold: In the short term, you can expect a more comfortable indoor temperature, and in the long run, you can look forward to lower monthly bills. It's a no-brainer!
Evaluate your current heating system. Like so much else in your home, your HVAC system requires regular maintenance in order to perform at its peak. For that reason, it’s only prudent to have the furnace inspected every year, ideally before winter even begins. If yours is a forced-air system, consider hiring a specialist to assess the ductwork as well. Notoriously prone to heat loss, ducts are often leaky enough to compromise energy efficiency by as much as 50 percent. That may be one reason why, even when your thermostat is set to a toasty temperature, you're still uncomfortable.
Make the Switch
Consider radiant heating. Some homeowners choose radiant heating because the efficient technology requires no leaky ductwork. But most make the switch because, of all the options, radiant creates the coziest and most pleasant at-home environment. With their cyclical, stop-and-start operation, forced-air systems swing temperatures from chilly to stifling. Radiant systems from industry leaders like Warmboard work in a different, more ingenious way, delivering consistent heat at floor level. The result? Even, all-encompassing, "everywhere" warmth and unparalleled comfort.