How to Turn Up the Heat Without Using Electricity
By Robyn Woodman
Whether you're in the middle of a blizzard without electricity or you're trying to save some cash this winter, it's wise to have an alternate heat source on frigid days. Instead of reaching for the thermostat, warm up with these creative, no-power heating solutions.
Use our tricks and tips to keep warm this winter. Your bank account will thank you come spring.
1. Get fired up.
Does your apartment have a fireplace? Whether it operates on gas or good old-fashioned wood, fireplaces can be energy-efficient heaters. If you have a gas insert, check to see if it's a direct-vent, vent-free, or B-vent unit. Direct-vent inserts can offer more heat, while B-vents generally push any warmth out of the home. Vent-free gas fireplaces are the most efficient. Although not all states permit vent-free inserts for use in apartments, ask your landlord what type of gas fireplace you have to determine its heating potential.
Does your rental have a wood stove? Rather than building a roaring fire, concentrate on building a constant, slow-burning flame for the most heat generation. According to the Wood Heat Organization (WHO), circulating the heat with a ceiling fan regardless of its placement within the room will help disperse the air and keep your space warmer. (Some wood stove inserts include a built-in blower.) The WHO also suggests using the driest wood available, as it burns 25 percent more efficiently, ignites faster, and smokes less.
While it's tempting to rest your cold feet close to the heat, always be sure to put the screen in place and keep safely back from the flames. And if you have a traditional fireplace, close the flue damper or get a chimney balloon when the fireplace is not in use to prevent warm air from escaping.
2. Bundle up.
Instead of cranking the thermostat to warm up, try warming yourself instead. Keeping your whole body covered is the best way to prevent heat loss. It's an old wives' tale that we lose the majority of our body heat through our head. The truth is, we experience heat loss throughout our entire body.
Keep your feet warm with cozy slippers and wear a knit hat, even indoors. Be sure your hat covers your ears. They're thin but have large surface areas and can lose heat easily. Warm yourself from the inside out by breathing through your nose; doing so warms the cold air to body temperature before it arrives in your lungs.
3. Try thermal curtains.
Whether you have double-pane windows or the dreaded single-pane, all windows are a source of heat loss. To conserve energy, choose window treatments that offer aesthetics as well as function. Heavy curtains with a thermal lining can drastically reduce heat loss. For additional savings, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests hanging the curtains as close to the window as possible and securing them at the bottom and sides to reduce the energy loss by 25%. And if you're a DIY warrior, try using caulk will seal off the pesky leaks and help keep you warm and toasty.
4. Seal windows with plastic.
Check with your landlord before tackling this project, especially if you want to get your entire security deposit back. Head to the local hardware store and get an inexpensive plastic window-insulator kit. Use your hair dryer to install it and create an insulating barrier you can take down in the spring. The clear plastic covering helps prevent heat from escaping through window crevices, prevents frost buildup, and reduces condensation.
5. Use a draft stopper.
We tend to spend the majority of our time in the main part of our apartment -- the kitchen and living rooms. Rather than trying to heat your whole home, shut interior doors: That will help keep the room that you're in feeling warmer. To ensure that cold air doesn't seep in, purchase a door draft snake or plastic draft stopper. You can make a draft snake yourself using scrap fabric and sand.
6. Invest in a rug (and liner).
There's nothing worse than waking up on a chilly morning and plopping your feet on a cold, bare floor. To make your space more comfy and warm, lay down a plush area rug. Not only will a large rug make your room feel cozier, but it also will help mitigate any cold air coming through cracks or gaps in the flooring. Choose a thick felt rug liner — it'll make your rug even plusher and add extra insulation.
7. Raise your body temperature.
When in doubt, sweat it out. There's no better way to get warm than to move your body. Even in a small space, there are plenty of ways to raise your heart rate and generate some heat. Push back the coffee table, improvise some weights (canned goods or bottled water will work) and prepare to sweat. If you need some quick home workouts, YouTube is your best friend.