This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

25 Cheap Ways to Keep Your House Warm in Winter

For those looking to reduce your heating bill without a big investment, we've put together a list of 25 cheap ways to keep your home warm in winter. Some of these options reduce heat loss, others add heat to the home or keep the heat where you need it.

These 25 good ideas help you keep the warm air in and cold air out. Many of the tips also help improve energy efficiency and help reduce energy bills.

small red house with snow in winter - text "25 Cheap Ways to Keep Your House Warm in Winter"

This post is part of our Winter Home Heating Series, which includes:

25 Cheap Ways to Keep Your House Warm in Winter

Bathroom vent timer

Use the Right Ventilation

1. Replace bathroom exhaust vent switches with timer switches so vents can't be left on by accident. Vent only when needed. Winter air tends to be dry, so if you don't mind a little less privacy, open your bathroom door and let the steam escape into the house instead. These are energy saving and can save you money year round!

2. Make sure bathroom fans/vents have baffles/draft blockers on the outside so you don't have cold air blowing back into the house. They are called a back-draft-dampener or wall-shutter (the sizes must match, so these are just included for reference).

3. Switch ceiling fans (reverse them) spring and fall. If you have heated floors turn off the ceiling fans, if you have forced air heat (central heating) turn it on.

4. Close the doors and vents in unused rooms if you are trying to reduce heating costs or keep your living space warmer in an emergency. Note: Be careful not to let rooms get too cold if they have plumbing, so you don't end up with frozen pipes.

See “Prevent Frozen Pipes – Extreme Cold Options and Construction Tips” for more plumbing tips.

5. Outside airflow makes a difference, too. Consider a snow fence to control where snow drops and control drifting. See the post How to Put Up a Snow Fence. Even a small snow fence can break the strong winds somewhat.

Get Heat Where You Need It

6. If you have radiators (or baseboard heating pipes) line the inside of the exterior wall with tinfoil or other heat reflecting materials from your home improvement store. This will reflect some of the heat back into the home. The same can be done for ovens, wood stoves and other heat sources internally. Fireplaces and wood stoves need a tougher fireplace reflective shield.

Radiant flooring is also a great solution. This type of heating system puts the heat closer to you, not up by the ceiling.

7. Make sure you aren't blocking airflow from forced air vents, and that the vents are open where you need heat. Don't block your vents with furniture, piles of dirty clothes or other debris.

8. If you have a chimney and are not using it, make sure its flue and draft (if it has both) are closed. Open chimneys can suck the heat right out of your home. (This is one of the biggest issues with open fireplaces – too much heat loss from the room. )

Consider blocking the chimney with a fireplace insert insulation to reduce heat loss if it will be left unused indefinitely – just don't forget to take it out if you decide to use it again. You can use fireblock or brick or stone to create thermal mass near a fireplace or wood stove.

Insulated pipes to prevent heat loss

Insulate Inside and Out to Reduce Heat Loss

9. Insulate hot water/radiator pipes and ductwork running through non-living areas. You don't want lose heat in a crawl space or utility area, you want it to get your house warm. Measure everything before you buy insulation, the links are for reference only.

10. Insulate doors. There are custom door sweep insulation kits you can can place along the bottom of an exterior OR interior door to reduce drafts. There are also insulation (cold air blockers) that can be placed against the base of a door. Garage doors have insulation panels. Keep the cool air OUT.

11. In extreme cold, hang blankets along the wall, even where there aren't windows, the wall can radiate cold through it. This is especially true if the insulation isn't good enough. If this happens regularly you need to check your wall insulation.

Don't forget passive solar. Make sure any windows facing south are uncovered when the sun is out. Get that free heat from the sun.

12. Attic access or attic doors can be the source of large amounts of heat loss. Make sure your attic access is VERY well insulated. Consider an attic stairs insulation cover to reduce heat loss above pull down steps (there are covers to reduce reflect heat for very hot environments also).

13. Don't let the cold radiate up from your floor. An uninsulated floor can cause more than 10% heat loss in a home. This is especially important if your home is “built on a slab” (no basement). Insulate the floor with warm rugs and/or carpets.

The bearskin or sheepskin rugs were historical solutions for floor insulation. You can also use insulating rugs to keep your feet warm. Also consider wearing warm slippers around the house also.

14. Consider placing bales of hay along the exterior edge of your basement and lower portion of 1st floor of your home. You will need to make sure you protect against mice, they will move in. The hay functions as basic exterior insulation and adds thermal insulating mass.

Reduce Window Heat Loss

15. Uncover the south facing windows to let in solar heat on sunny days. See “Passive Solar Heating Basics” for more information on how to make the most out of your solar gain.

16. Add insulating window coverings. Honeycomb cellular insulating shades are a good option to consider. Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, and numerous websites and stores will allow custom orders. We have Bali insulating double-cellular shades.

We open and close the insulating blinds with the sun. We are have to replace the insulating blinds roughly every 10 years. If you don't like the insulating shades, consider Insulating Curtains to reduce your heat loss.

Insulating cellular shades

17. Add interior window insulation using something like a 3m insulation kit. These window insulating kits can be combined with the shades or curtains.

Window insulator kit

18. For a cheap short term solution, use duct tape and an old blanket to cover your windows. It's ugly, but functional.

19. If you have a really big window and want to reduce heat loss, you can duct tape a large clear shower curtain to the inside (just past the frame). (A shower curtain is thicker than the window insulating kit plastic.) It will allow sun in during the day and still provide an air gap to reduce heat loss. Adding a curtain or shades over it helps even more at night.

Duncan snuggling cat

Adding Extra Warmth to Your Home

20. Don't drain a bathtub that is hot. Wait for it to cool before you drain it. If there's a storm coming where you may lose power, fill the tub with hot water. You get additional heat in the home and an emergency water source.

21. When you finish baking, leave the stove open slightly to let the home get all that wonderful heat. Winter is a great time to practice your homemade bread baking skills. If you froze fruits and berries in the summer, winter is a perfect time to finish your jam and jelly making.

22. Your pets are mobile heaters. Consider cuddling if it gets really cold. Our cats think movie time is the best thing ever, since they have nice warm humans to nap on.

23. Keep blankets and lap rugs handy and use them. When we sit, our circulation slows down. Keeping a throw blanket over your lap while you're knitting or watching TV can improve your comfort levels without turning up the thermostat. Wool blankets are best for an extra bed cover layer or couch throw

24. If you spend a fair amount of time at a desk, a heated foot warmer may be a good investment. My mother in law has the Cozy Products TT Toasty Toes Ergonomic Heated Foot Warmer under her desk. It gets a good workout when she's working on genealogy.

25. Invest in a small, clean burning portable propane heater to add heat only where and when you need it. The 18,000 BTU propane Big Buddy Heater is well reviewed online and by friends who have used it. Stock up on spare propane tanks and you have a perfect emergency heater.

Do you have an inexpensive tip for keeping warm that we missed? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

red house house in winter with snow - text "25 cheap ways to keep your house warm in winter"

You may also find helpful:

Don't forget to check out our other Cold Weather Preparedness posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

76 Comments

  1. Really great information!!
    we only use wood heat from a wood burning stove, it definitely gets cold around here!
    I am going to try my hand at at least one window quilt this year for my largest, coldest room.

  2. Build a canopy bed frame and add heavy blankets curtains to contain the heat. You can attach the foam insulation panels instead of the blankets and keep a blanket curtain as a “door’.

  3. Wool sweaters, socks, scarves, etc. will keep you warm and it’s a natural product which is so much better for us.
    Also, bootie slippers really keep your feel warm. They have a “cuff” at the top of the slipper that you can pull up around your ankles. They really do keep your feet warm.
    Also, layer socks. A thin pair close to your skin (preferably wool) and then thermal or heavy duty socks over those. Layering is key.

  4. I will burn alot of candles, while in the room, it takes that room up a few degrees, one year that truly was the difference between freezing and not.

    1. Please make sure you don’t have them anywhere pets can get to them! Voice of experience here…I don’t even own a candle now, and never will have another one

  5. Hi, fabulous website filled with lovely ideas and tips – thank you.
    My winter tip, I have Dirt Trapper Mats (rubber backed washable rugs) at all the doors and a stone floor. In the winter I turn the last quarter of the rug up so it sits vertically against and covering the bottom of the door, I then have a curtain rail fitted above the doors with a heavy weight or insulated curtain which reach the floor, tuck the curtain against the mat to keep the drafts out.
    Mary, Kent, UK.

  6. We made bean filled fabric snakes to lay at the base of doors to stop drafts. We also always hang a moveable (and removable) curtain above the exterior door frames – makes a huge difference even with modern doors?

  7. If you have black dark out curtains, reverse them so that the black side is facing outward on an east or west window so the curtains will absorb the sun and release the heat into the room. It also helps to use regular florescent and incandescent light bulbs or whatever gives off heat. Since those light bulbs give off most of their energy as heat, they will help heat your home stay warmer, especially if you need a lot of light and very frequently.

  8. 1) There’s something called a Heat Grabber that Mother Earth news had plans for in the 1970s. You can find the info here: https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/diy-solar-heating-zmaz77sozgoe You place it in a sunny side window and the solar warmed air generated rises up into the house. Free heat. 2) Make a removable Triomphe wall by filling darkly painted plastic gallon milk/ water jugs with water. Place these on a system of built-in shelves or removable bricks and boards in front of your large South-facing sliding glass door or window. These absorb the heat of the daytime sun. In the evening, close your insulated curtains behind them, and feel them radiate heat into your home. 3) Cherrystone pads are just cloth bags filled with dried cherry pits. They can be heated in a pan on top of a woodstove and used like a hot water bottle but they also comform to the body part so you could make a long one and wrap it around your shoulders. I assume they can be heated in a microwave, but I don’t know because I don’t own one. 4) Run the heat and enjoy it. We don’t have cable TV or cell phones and save at least $100 a month by not having them. Because of this we can run our heat to a comfortable level. We still wear warm woolens and have insulated walls and ceilings, large wool area rugs, and use thermal curtains on windows, etc., but we decided to forego luxuries for some creature comfort. This is the first place I’ve lived in ages where I don’t need a hot water bottle all the time and we’re warm enough with the thermostat set between 65-67.

  9. Hi Laurie,

    I stumbled across your fascinating website this morning while searching for more uses for Aloe Vera. This plant I really value for its many and diverse uses but couldn’t find mention of it on your site, was wondering if perhaps it has a different name over there.

    Looking forward to getting familiar with the many useful topics you cover on your site.

    Good health from Portugal,

    Basil Croeser

    1. Hi Basil. Glad you’re enjoying the site.

      I call aloe vera “aloe vera”, or simply “aloe”, but only used it a limited amount at this point for burns and other skin ailments. My plants are small-ish, not the huge type I’ve seen in some areas.

      I’ll note your request and see about pulling together an article in the new year, when people are more health focused. (Although it sounds like you may be well able to write an article yourself. πŸ™‚ )

  10. Never tell anyone to bring a propane heater into their home. The carbon monoxide could kill them. Years ago after flood a family had them in their home to dry the place out and they all died over night due to the CM poisoning. Please change that in your article.

    1. Deb – That is terrible, but they probably used a heater that was not rated for indoor use.

      There are propane heaters specifically rated for indoor use that may be used safely as long as users follow manufacturer’s recommendations. There are guidelines for the space to be heated and ventilation requirements.

  11. Fill a long sock with rice and tie it off. For instant warmth, pop it into the microwave for two or three minutes, take it out and then cuddle with it.