Are you already sick of winter? Well, we hate to break it to you, but we are still several months away from feeling spring breezes and the grass beneath our toes. However, we can make the most of the time we spend inside our homes if we make it as comfortable as possible. Here are our 10 expert tips to achieving home comfort in Minnesota this winter.
Find A Perfect Thermostat Setting
It’s the obvious first step to keeping warm this winter, but once you find your golden thermostat setting, you’ll see why its number one in keeping you comfortable and saving you money. Most people believe that anywhere between 68-70 degrees is ideal in the winter. But you may find that you prefer to sleep in cooler air, so feel free to turn it down at night. A programmable thermostat can help you make adjustments at certain times of day so you can set it and forget it.
Just as important to your comfort as the temperature, is the humidity. In summer, you feel hot and muggy when the humidity is too high. In winter, you can feel clammy or colder with too much moisture in the air. If there is not enough moisture, you’ll get dry skin, brittle nails and hair, and chapped lips. The key is finding the right balance in your home and a whole house humidifier/dehumidifier can help with that.
Seal Your Home
If you seal the envelope of your home, you’ll notice that air quality will increase, drafts will stop, and hopefully your energy bill will go down. Caulking around windows and doors, winterizing with plastic over windows, covering holes, sealing ductwork, gaps and vents should all help keep warm air in and allow you to have better humidity control – not to mention preventing allergens, dust, and pests from entering.
Keep Windows And Doors Shut
This has the same effect as sealing up your home, but you’d be surprised how many people open their doors and windows to bring in fresh air. Keep them shut, and you’ll stay warmer and waste less energy.
Make Sure You Have Enough Insulation
While you’re busy sealing up your home, take a look at how much insulation is in your attic. Unfortunately, in older homes there is not nearly enough. Make sure you check the R-value on the insulation – which is the measure of resistance to heat flow traveling through the insulation. The higher the R-value, the harder it is for heat to be lost. If you live in Minnesota, the recommended R-value is R49 to R60 in your attic.
Bundle Up & Keep Your Feet Warm
Our parents told us long ago to put on a sweater and dress appropriately for the weather – it’s still time to listen to that advice. But beyond bundling up, focus on your feet, says our resident expert, Minnesota Air technical support manager Keith Hill. “Studies show that the human body is most comfortable with warmth at the feet and slightly cooler at head level,” he notes. “That’s why radiant in-floor heat is so comfortable.”
Stay Away From The Windows
In addition to winterizing your windows, if you can choose a place to sit in your home, staying far from windows and glass doors will keep you warmer. Keith says even when the indoor air temperature is warm, when we stand next to something cold, our bodies radiate heat to the cold, cooling us off.
“We tend to think of the cold coming in through the windows, and in the case of cold air leakage, that may be true. But heat actually radiates from our bodies out through the windows. The closer you are to the window, the more heat you radiate, and more uncomfortable you will feel,” he says.
Avoid Moving Air
With forced air systems, many of us run our fans continuously for indoor air quality reasons and to prevent temperature stratification (warm air rising to the ceiling and cold air falling to the floor). But Keith says the moving air can make you feel cool.
“Moving air promotes evaporation of the moisture on our skin and cools us off. Avoid areas of moving air like grilles and registers, or ceiling fans if you run them in the winter, and you will feel warmer.”
Go Outside And Play
Shoveling, sledding, skiing and ice skating are all activities that will get you moving outside in the colder months.
“The activity improves metabolism, warming us up, and the acclimation to the cold makes our bodies feel warmer when we come indoors,” says Keith.
That combo of outdoor fun and feeling warmer when you return inside is a win-win!
Consider A Zone Heating System
Keith says if you’re having trouble with comfort because of cold rooms, maybe it’s time to consider a zoning system. Zone heating works by letting different areas of your home be on different HVACs/thermostats that can be set at different temperatures depending on if they are in use or who is using them. It’s better for controlling comfort and efficiency because you only heat the rooms you use.