Winterizing An Apartment

Ah, home winterization tips. They work great for people like me – I have the freedom to damage my home because I own some percentage of it. But what about renters in chilly flats in cities and suburbs? As someone who once upon a time lived in an apartment with wall cracks so large that frigid air blew in along with huge old windows (fun in summer, hellish in winter), I sympathize. What good are home winterization tips like “Install energy efficient windows” and “Add extra insulation to your attic”? Because, yeah, your landlord is just going to looooove that.

With that in mind, here are some tips for winterizing an apartment so you can stay warm without losing your security deposit:

1. Caulk (with rope caulk) around all of the windows and seal them with plastic… BUT if you have painted sills, don’t use the tape that sometimes comes in the kits because at winter’s end it will peel you paint off. Use masking tape instead. You’ll probably have to re-tape at least once during the season.

2. Install fire-retardant foam insulation pads inside of outlet covers and switch plates. Sure, the word “install” can be scary for renters, but your landlord will never know it’s there and especially in old apartments with a lot of outside walls, it can make a world of difference. Weather stripping on drafty doors and windows is another installable option that won’t make your landlord’s eyes bulge out.


3. Put up some insulating thermal curtains. Wherever you get plenty of sun, open them and let in all that nice warm light. At night, shut them up tight, preferably over some insulating blinds. Some people will close the blinds and put up shrink plastic over the windows, but that can make for a long, dismal winter. Another option: Put a layer of dark fleece between your curtains and the window. Fleece is awesome.

4. Draft dodgers and door sweeps help you keep outside air where it belongs and allow you to heat some rooms and not others without too much heat loss. Draft dodgers are even an easy DIY project for the novice seamstress – here’s one tutorial that’s super simple. And here’s some snakey inspiration (note to parents: kids will play with these, so maybe make one or two extra).

5. Walls can bleed a lot of cold, especially in old buildings with insulation that was installed a hundred or more years ago or maybe even no insulation at all. Some people swear by tapestries, while others make the most of their wall space by putting up lots of tall bookshelves on every available wall and filling them with books.

6. The easiest ideas for winterizing an apartment: Turn down the heat for the whole apartment and use a space heater in the room you’re in most. Or spend lots of time baking, which is what I do, though you run the risk of becoming the posterchild for wintertime weight gain (like I do). Drink lots of hot tea. Dress like our ancestors did during those seemingly endless winters. Take a hot shower before bed and invest in a thick down comforter.

Do the lovely and hopefully toasty warm apartment dwellers out there have any other tips to share?

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4 Responses to “Winterizing An Apartment”

  1. Carol October 25, 2010 at 6:11 am #

    In addition to the comforter, look into a mattress warmer. You can turn it on as you’re getting ready for the night and slip into a lovely, toasty warm bed rather than warming it up yourself once you get in there. Mr. Carol got me one for my birthday last year and we are able to turn down the heat at night and still sleep comfortably. Best present I’ve ever gotten! Well, besides the jewelry….

  2. Ash October 25, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    The worst part for me was getting out of a hot shower in a frigid bathroom, so I got a towel warmer. Fairly cheap options on Amazon. Only problems are that you need an extra plug and as they’re on all the time they aren’t exactly energy-efficient.

  3. the canuckian October 25, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    My aunt used to have a draft dodger that was shaped like a dachshund… Thank you! Now I’ve got a plan for when winter comes around here. Apparently Japanese apartments/heating devices are purposefully designed to let out heat/turn off after an hour. You’d think that it’s not that bad, but you never get warm, except after a bath. Ever. And the heaters are only ever in one room…

  4. Christa Terry October 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    @Carol Oh, that sounds LOVELY. The closest thing I’ve got is The Beard, who is usually in bed a few minutes before I am and graciously spends those few minutes warming my side of the bed.

    @Ash I love towel warmers! I just don’t have any good place to put one, boo.

    @the canuckian Eek. Sounds like an old apartment I lived in with forced air heat. You could kind of warm up while the heat was actually going, but as soon as it turned off, all that nice heat bled right out. Coldest place I ever lived in, I think.