8 Cold-Weather Hacks for Keeping a Cozy Home

Achieve the wintertime retreat of your dreams with a few simple projects.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |Oct. 20, 2017, at 12:16 p.m.

8 Cold-Weather Hacks for Keeping a Cozy Home

Slideshow

Embrace the hygge at home.

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As cold nights set in and the days get shorter, the promise of a warm, comfortable spot to cuddle up at home can make that additional time spent inside far more appealing. But aside from driving up heating bills, how can you achieve the perfect level of coziness? Hygge, the Danish concept of being cozy and content, has been a particularly popular trend over the last year, as it lends to many consumers’ efforts to make their home feel as welcoming and comfortable as possible. With a mixture of do-it-yourself projects to help keep the heat inside and simple decorating tasks, you won’t find yourself getting cabin fever anytime soon.

Keep the heat in.

Keep the heat in.

Icicles and Snowstorm

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First and foremost, the best way to keep your indoors feeling toasty when temperatures begin to drop is to make sure your home is well-insulated and that warm air isn’t escaping outdoors. Gary Parsons, a fellow at Dow Building Solutions, which makes products for both new construction and existing buildings, says the spots where heat is able to escape can be costlier than you’d imagine: “We’ve seen cases where it can be half the energy loss in a building.”

Find and seal problem spots.

Find and seal problem spots.

Sealing the air leaks around plumbing penetrations underneath a home with an insulating expandable foam sealant.

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A simple DIY project Parsons recommends involves a foam sealant found at big-box stores, such as Dow’s Great Stuff Gaps & Cracks Insulating Foam Sealant or a similar product like the one made by Loctite. Apply it around the exterior walls of your home. Anywhere plumbing or ducts may go into a wall, make sure there’s no extra space in the hole in the wall. “You do the really simple things that everyone knows about,” he says. By doing the same in the basement or crawl space – paying particular attention to any cavities along the rim joist that makes up the perimeter of the floor above – Parsons says you could cut energy loss by as much as a third.

Layer rugs.

Layer rugs.

Selective focus image of Persian silk rugs

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Unless you’ve invested in heated floors, direct contact with a hard floor will likely keep your toes feeling chilly when you’re at home. Minimize the cold surfaces by overlapping rugs. You’re not only reducing the exposed floor surface, but you're incorporating more textiles to make it look like the entire room is blanketed. Sites like Wayfair and Overstock sell a variety of rugs, and customer reviews will often assess whether the thickness of a rug works in a range of layering situations.

Work on weatherstripping.

Work on weatherstripping.

Hands Applying Weather Seal Caulk to Window Frame

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A classic home-insulating project to prepare for cold weather is applying weatherstripping to your doors and windows, which blocks gaps in the working parts of the window and door and cuts down on drafts. If you've already added weatherstripping and still feel cold air drifting in, and you’re willing and handy enough to take on a larger project, Parsons recommends removing the exterior trim of your window as well and applying a window- and door-specific sealant foam, which is spongier than other sealants. Even places just beyond your usual visibility in your home can have gaps where heat can escape.

Bring the furniture inward.

Bring the furniture inward.

Shot of a mature woman sitting on her sofa drinking tea while wrapped in a blanket

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You may normally keep your couch and chair along the perimeter of the room, but as the outside turns cold, pull the furniture away from the colder exterior and toward a fireplace or the center of the room. The closer seating arrangement will make time spent drinking cocoa or hot toddies with friends and family more intimate, while keeping you clear of any drafty windows.

Dim the lights.

Dim the lights.

Smiling woman using digital tablet in resort

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The right lighting can help a room feel warm, rather than casting an overly bright, almost blue hue that can feel cold. Opt for lightbulbs that will give off a warmer light, typically labeled as below 3,000 Kelvins. U.S. News Pocket Listing contributor Tori Toth recommends adding more light in general when decorating for winter: “Add a few more table or floor lamps in dark corners, turn on the fireplace, light candles (real or fake) and add string lights to your decor to set the scene with just enough light to sit back and relax in a warm atmosphere.”

Snuggle up next to a fire.

Snuggle up next to a fire.

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It’s hard to not think about warming yourself by the fire when nightly frost sets in, but that’s not so easy when your home doesn’t have a fireplace. Fortunately, there are now a number of ventless fireplaces or fireplace-styled space heaters that allow you to get the warm hearth feel without having to seek an old mountain cottage. HearthCabinet specializes in ventless fireplaces, which can be built into a home or added without construction and start around $2,900 for smaller models. You can also opt for a space heater that looks like a wood-burning stove, which Duraflame offers starting as low as $60 through QVC.

Make bundling up easy.

Make bundling up easy.

Christmas or new year decoration at Living room interior and holiday home decor concept. Calm image of blanket on a vintage sofa with tree and gifts. Selective focus.

(Getty Images)

If you’re not cranking the heat, it certainly helps to snuggle under a blanket or two, so why not have them ready? Keep throw blankets on or near couches and chairs, so you don't have to drag them from room to room. Draping quilts or throws on the furniture, rather than having them folded along the back or in a cabinet, can additionally help encourage their use as people sit down. Plus, it makes leaving a room far easier when you don’t have to struggle to fold up a 6-foot-by-8-foot blanket on your way out.

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Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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