Skip to content

Stories & Features

10 home comfort hacks for colder weather

Happy mother and daughter sitting on a sofa and reading a book
Bundle up with sweaters and slippers as the cooler months arrive, and when the sun shines, hang out in rooms warmed by sunlight through windows.

From plugging leaks to wearing slippers, a few easy fixes

As the colder months of the year arrive, we're back to heating our homes as we try to stay warm enough to be comfortable, but not so warm that our energy bills go sky-high.

There are ways to make that happen without doing the big stuff such as upgrading your home's insulation, replacing older windows, or switching to an electric heat pump. Here are 10 low-cost and no-cost ways to help ensure your home is comfortable, and efficient, even in the coldest months.

1. Draftproof windows, doors and 'hidden' leaks

Did you know that a one-eighth inch gap around an entry door leaks as much air as a small window left half open? Or that electrical outlets and switches, mail slots, and even plumbing pipes and ductwork, could be significant sources of air leaks in your home?

If your home is drafty, get an incense stick or smoke pencil from your local hardware store. Light it and use the smoke to detect leakage around windows, doors, outlets, and even inside your microwave or fireplace (a stuck damper will allow cold air into your home through your microwave). Then set to work fixing the leaks, using our draftproofing how-tos that include some helpful videos.

Draftproofing – also known as weather stripping – is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to improve your home's energy efficiency.

2. When the sun shines, let it warm your rooms

See the cat, be the cat. If there's a south or west-facing room in your home that benefits from sunlight spilling through a window, open the blinds or window covering to let the sun shine in. Make it a habit to camp out there, like a cat, at the warm times of the day. And if you're heading out of your home, open blinds in those rooms to allow the sun to help heat your home. It's a natural source of free heat.

On rainy or cloudy days, and at night, close your window coverings to keep the warm air in and cool air out.

3. Add an area rug to keep your feet warm

Unheated floors, especially on ground floors and basements, can be cold in winter. And when your feet are cold, you're going to be uncomfortable. Cover areas where you spend a lot of time – in the living room or TV room, or below a work desk – with an area rug that provides some thermal comfort. In general, the thicker the better, and wool is best.

4. Got a heat pump? Set it and forget it

Heat pumps work best when holding a steady temperature. Find a temperature setting you're most comfortable with and try to minimize changes. Frequent setting changes can impact its efficiency, and your energy costs. And once you're in heating season, use 'heat' mode, instead of 'auto' mode.

What's the best temperature setting during the cold months of the year? It's personal, but give 20°C a shot – it's a nice balance between comfort and energy efficiency.

5. Move furniture away from vents, registers and baseboards

A discolored patch on the back of a sofa is a giveaway that your furniture is too close to a heating source. When heating season starts, make sure that your vents and baseboards are operating without anything blocking them, including window coverings. Furniture and other objects should be at least 12 inches (30 cm) away from a baseboard heater – or at least six inches (15 cm) from the sides of the baseboard. Anything closer limits air flow and could be a fire hazard.

Get more tips about how to get the most out of our baseboard heaters.

6. Add a programmable thermostat

A smart thermostat will make your life more convenient, keep you more comfortable, and it can help save you money on your electric bill.

A smart thermostat connects to your home's internet and allows you to maintain the ideal temperature remotely on your smartphone or laptop. You can schedule different temperatures for different times of the day, and can even use your phone while on your way home to ensure it's warm and comfy by the time you arrive.

Check out our current deals on smart baseboard thermostats, as you can save $25 per unit or $100 for a three-pack, through January 26, 2024.

7. One person, one room? Consider a portable space heater

If you don't have multiple thermostats that allow you to heat a single room without heating rooms not in use, consider a portable space heater. A heater near your feet while working in a home office or workshop can keep you happy without turning up the heat in larger spaces in your home.

Recognize that portable space heaters can be costly to operate, especially when used for extended periods and/or when you forget to turn them off. Using our appliance cost calculator, you'll see that a 1,400-watt space heater used an average of four hours a day will cost you about $19 a month to operate. Only use them when you're in the room.

8. Bundle up, and don't forget the slippers

Resist the temptation to turn up the heat. Instead, grab a sweater or hoodie, plus slippers or thick socks. And if you're camped out on the couch, bundle up under a blanket.

9. Close windows, and use your bathroom fans

Some of us insist on having fresh air in the home, even on the coldest days. But opening a window is going to cause drafts, discomfort, and increase your energy bills dramatically.

Still worried about fresh air, or the potential for condensation? If you're home isn't equipped with a ventilation system – either a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV) – use your bathroom fans and/or your kitchen hood fan to ensure air flow. If your fans are energy efficient – always look for the ENERGY STAR® label – you can leave them on for extended periods.

10. Close off unused rooms

It seems obvious, but we sometimes forget. Why turn the heat on in rooms we're not using? The idea is to only heat the rooms where people are, and one way to do that is to close the door to all rooms that aren't being used. Bonus points for shutting off colder rooms in a basement that might generate drafts felt all through your home.