Winter should be a time of warm blankets and hot bevs, not drafts and rattling windows. But in a poorly insulated apartment, the nights can feel a lot more Cold Comfort than Winter Wonderland. Not to mention the utility bill!
While you can’t exactly rip out your walls and install insulation, you don’t have to face down a whole winter in Siberia, either. These tips will give you some ideas on how to stay nice and toasty in your apartment—without being an energy guzzler. And since we at Modernize know renting isn’t cheap, we’ve included some budget alternatives as well.
Winterize Your Windows
The wind has a way of wheedling in, especially in a rental with poorly-sealed windows. In fact, if you have bad insulation, as much as 25 percent of your energy bill could be going out the window! But you can prepare your apartment to stand up to the winter chill using a plastic film window insulation kit.
The concept is pretty simple: plastic film is either taped or shrink wrapped with heat around windows, creating a barrier that keeps the cold out. You can get a kit at your local hardware store—just make sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully.
If you’re trying to save: Use bubble wrap and masking tape as a DIY solution. It won’t be the prettiest, but it will keep you warm, and the masking tape will be easy to remove when winter ends.
Weatherproof Your Doors
Doors are also vulnerable to drafts and weather, but you can’t exactly seal those off with plastic! Here, your best bet is to go with adhesive weatherstripping around the top and sides of the door. It’s simple to install and can be removed, if necessary. Add a door sweep to the bottom of the door and you have an entrance that can stand up to even the worst weather.
If you’re trying to save: Roll a towel and place it at bottom of your door. Or make your own door snake out of fabric (like an old wool knee sock) and dried beans.
Keep Your Floors Toasty-warm
Floors need insulation, too, especially if your rental isn’t already carpeted. A large area rug on the floor helps block out cold seeping up from the ground, and it will keep your feet nice and warm as well.
If you’re trying to save: Decorative rugs can run steep, but you can cut back on costs by dressing up an inexpensive utility rug using outdoor paint.
Drape Your Home in Velvet
A set of sturdy drapes, like a velvet or thermal curtain set, is an attractive way to keep warm air from leaking out of your apartment. Thermal curtains, especially, are designed with insulation in mind and keep your home cozy and your energy use low. They’re especially great for those drafty balcony doors that apartment planners are so fond of. And if you plan on keeping your porch doors locked and bolted until summer, you can also secure the curtains to the wall using masking tape for extra insulation.
If you’re trying to save: Make your own using insulative batting material or a gently used thin comforter.
Don’t Let Wind Sneak in From Outlets
Sometimes the source of a phantom draft is less obvious than it seems. Even electrical outlets can let in the breeze when not properly insulated. Foam outlet and switch seals solve this issue by creating a buffer between you and the cold. They’re not too difficult to install, either, although you will need a screwdriver and access to your apartment’s electrical panel so you can switch off the power and keep things safe.
If you’re trying to save: At around $3 a package, you don’t even need to DIY!
Even in drafty apartments, proper insulation and weatherproofing can really help stabilize that thermostat, keeping you snug and comfortable…at least until spring!