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5 Steps to Winterize a Drafty Apartment

Tips to Keep You Cozy and Your Heating Bill Manageable

As we move into the fall season, promises of apple picking and cozy sweaters hang in the crisp air. But with the return of the cold, worries about heating costs can also be on the horizon. By taking the time to do a few simple things, you can save yourself the yearly struggle of fighting with the thermostat and stay cozy all winter long!

1. Draft guards are your friend.

Draft guards come in all shapes and sizes from long, snakes full of rice to double Styrofoam tubes connected by fabric. For most apartments, I'd recommend a combination of these styles. On doors that lead directly to the outside world or into a drafty apartment building hallway, the draft guards that slide under the door with a tub on either side are your best bet. These create a double seal that works to keep both the cold air out and the warm air in. Some of these are sturdier and move better with the door than others, always look at product reviews to ensure that you aren't getting a draft guard that will constantly get stuck under the door when you enter and exit your apartment. As for the second type, the bags of rice, these are great if you have rooms that you don't use regularly or outer rooms that regularly become very frigid. In my apartment, the bathroom has no heating vents and all three walls are exterior walls. This can drag the temperature of my apartment way down. I often keep the bathroom door closed with a draft guard in front of it to keep that from affecting the rest of the apartment and eating my heat.

2. Wrap your windows.

Windows are often the number one source of drafts and heat loss in an apartment. By getting a kit to wrap your windows in plastic, you are reducing the heat loss in a major way. My recommendation is also to check product reviews to ensure the kit you buy is known for lasting all winter long. 3M has a slightly more expensive version but their tape will not let go until you choose to remove it. Following all directions on the package will also be useful, never skip the final step which calls for using a hair dryer to finish the seal. This step will obviously take some time, especially if you have many windows. Try recruiting some friends to help and you will be saved both time and hassle. If for some reason you have a window that you cannot wrap in plastic, a double draft guard can also be cut to fit the dimensions of the window, this should be plan B though.

3. Hang tapestries, quilts, or even rugs on exterior walls.

Exterior walls are a another big source of heat loss. Many old apartment buildings and houses lack proper insulation which means the heat that you pay for is just leaking out of the walls and the cold air is just flowing right in. This problem can be mitigated by hanging thick fabrics on all walls that lead directly to the cold outside air. By selecting attractive options like tapestries and quilts you can turn your walls into both stylish and functional show pieces. When choosing a fabric to hang, ensure that it has some thickness to it. A silk tapestry won't do as much to insulate your apartment as a thick quilt or a heavy cotton tapestry. Rugs are also a great option because they add both a layer of insulation and sound proofing to your home. This can also make for an interesting art instillation as not too many people decorate walls with rugs. 

4. Take up baking.

By using your oven more often during the winter, you can generate heat extra heat which will greatly assist in warming your apartment. Also, having baked goods and food to bring to class or the office is a great way to make new friends. Just think, all the money you save bringing your own food to work will help you pay for the heating bill as well. Those with ovens that run on a separate system from their heat will see the biggest benefit of this. For example, if you have gas heat and an electric stove then you will save even more on your heating bill than those who have both gas heat and a gas stove.  

5. Invest in a space heater.

This is the last suggestion on my list because I am very torn on space heaters. While they generate a lot of heat that can be incredibly beneficial to keeping the thermostat at a lower setting, they aren't practical for everyone. As someone who is both forgetful and owns a cat, I can envision several problems that could arise. Space heaters can be fire hazards, particularly if they get knocked over or if flammable items fall onto them. That being said, there are certainly safer varieties out there and as technology advances, so do the fail-safes put into place to stop such accidents from occurring. If you are someone who feels they are comfortable having a space heater in their home, then you should go for it!

Hopefully, these tips have inspired you to both pull out a mug of spiced apple cider and break out the window wrap. If you put in a little extra effort, you are sure to make it through the winter without living in a literal ice box. 

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