20 Tips to Stay Warm in Your Apartment

Photo by sporkist

Sometimes the ideas I see for staying warm at home don’t seem to apply to me. Add insulation to the attic? Hmm. Put in efficient storm windows? I don’t think so.

If you live in an apartment, there are still simple ways you can stay warm. It’s even more important if you live in an older building where the quaint architectural features that add the charm also bring the chill.

Let’s stay warm this winter:

1. Tape over leaky cracks along the edges of windows. (I use clear packaging tape.) Check to make sure it won’t hurt the paint, but I haven’t found it to be a problem.

2. Roll up a blanket or towel and place it under doors or windows to block drafts.

3. Put on a sweater.

4. Insulate the windows by hanging a clear vinyl shower curtain behind the drapes. We did this in one room with three exposed walls, and it really helped to stabilize the temperature.

5. Bake something.

6. Close air vents to unused spaces.

7. If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed. (Speaking from experience here.)

8. Keep closet and cabinet doors closed (except for cabinets with pipes during a freeze warning).

9. Buy a programmable thermostat — you can take it with you when you move.

10. A humidifier causes the air to feel warmer.

11. Cuddle up under quilts.

12. Use a space heater, carefully.

13. Put an electric blanket on your bed.

14. Drink something hot.

15. Switch the ceiling fans to turn in reverse.

16. Cozy up with a hot water bottle.

17. Apply weather stripping to doors or windows (easy and cheap).

18. Soak in a hot bath.

19. Wear wooly socks.

20. What is your best tip to stay warm?

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. A few things:

    If you don’t have little kids, and you have a bathtub, plug the drain when you take a shower. After showers or baths, leave the water in the tub until the water reaches room temperatures. Laws of thermodynamics have me convinced that the temperature of the water will neutralize with the heat of the bathroom air, causing the bathroom air to warm. You can also do the same thing when you wash dishes or drain pasta in the sink. Just remember to drain the water eventually

    As for the first tip, I wonder if using poster tape or painter’s masking tape would be better than packaging tape. Painter’s masking tape and poster tape are both designed not to damage walls or leave sticky residue, though I’m sure it isn’t designed for sealing windows.

    Also, you could try getting some of those electrical plug covers normally used to keep kids from sticking their fingers in the sockets. Cold air can flow in from unused outlets.

    Mary’s last blog post..Plan Ahead: Next Halloween

  2. Lol, i love your drawing of hot bread! The socks and the teacup are adorable too. :P

  3. I love your pictures!!

    We have a mattress cover heating pad that is a life saver for us!!

    CC’s last blog post..The Lunar Beasts

  4. You already listed mine…a warm bath. Sometimes in the winter I cannot warm up without one. So I take one right before bed. It helps me wind down and warms me up before I fall asleep!

    Elizabeth’s last blog post..Prevention Magazine

  5. Great article. Mary, you’re hilarious. I was thinking the same. Gee, were you in my thermo class?

    Here are some of my ideas.
    -Hot, steamy showers.
    -Warm clothes and blankets in the dryer. I love my fleece pullover warmed.
    -Eat foods that promote warmth. Ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom and cloves. Spicy foods can cool you down, though, make you sweat. I’d avoid those.
    -Don’t sweat.
    -Keep your head warm, wear a hat. Toddler and I have Happy Hat Days. It’s just for fun, though.

  6. I get my butt off the couch (or my computer chair) and do some housework. Move your body gets you warm!

    Dana @ Letters to Elijah’s last blog post..Exercise, fresh air and some treasure hunting!

  7. smallnotebook says:

    Laws of thermodynamics? Wow!

    The reason I prefer packaging tape instead of painter’s tape is because it’s clear and we leave it on all season. I haven’t heard of poster tape before. I really haven’t had any stickiness on the paint from the packaging tape, it’s been fine for us.

  8. They have a great product at Lowes that goes over windows (especially old ones) and keeps the draft out. Great for a house or apt with old windows–probably the number one place you lose heat. Here’s an article on it http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/153754/how_to_insulate_your_homes_windows.html

    Also – old-fashioned rice warmers. super easy to make and great on your lap or at the foot of your bed when you first get in.

    Crystal’s last blog post..my proud little homeowner

  9. Last night I was really cold but the temperature in the house via the thermostat was reasonable. So I got on the treadmill and walked for 20 minutes and I warmed right up :)

  10. We live in an open plan space – kitchen, dining and living room, which is heated with a small stove. It’s a narrow long space and the stove is at one end which results in our being cold at the other end where the couch is so recently we bought a small desk fan and attached it (safely) near and above the stove.
    Now when the stove has warmed up the air around it and of course particularily above it, we switch the fan on to a low setting and the warm air circulates much better than before.
    Actually there is a little story behind this…

    Scribhneoir’s last blog post..Staying Warm

  11. We have an air conditioner that lets in A LOT of cold, so I tape two garbage bags over it. I keep forgetting to buy thick plastic, which I think would probably work better and look better than the black bags I keep putting on mine. I have to use duct tape though, because packers tape doesn’t seem to be strong enough.

    I’m going to use the clear shower liner tip, I never thought to do that before, it’d be nice for our patio door, it’s old and lets in so much cold plus a lot of frost. also, I’m going to put packing tape around our window, thanks for all the tips!

  12. We have hardwood floors & tile in our living spaces so I make sure everyone is wearing some kind of slippers in the winter. I think if your toes are warm usually you are too. Another thing to remember is not to clog up the radiators with clothes (either on the radiator or directly in front on an airer) it really prevents the warm air from circulating.

  13. Vacuuming always warms me up! So does wearing warm clothes!

    Andrea’s last blog post..Things you never knew about me that you still don’t want to know

  14. I do many of these things. One of the perks of apartment living is I get lots of ambient heat from the neighbors! WOO! And, I only have one wall that faces the outdoors, so it’s probably much warmer in here than if it were a freestanding building.

    Instead of using packing tape, you can use blue painter’s tape. Less likely to cause damage.

  15. I like to keep a light sweater strictly for wearing inside the house on those especially chilly days. A soft wool blanket for the living room is wonderful with my coffee in the morning before the kiddos gets up. It’s so nice and peaceful. I’ve also shut off all the vents to other rooms that have their own heat or don’t need constant heating. Our bathroom has wall heater built in. The kitchen has one also even though cooking is enough to keep that room warm.

    Jennifer’s last blog post..Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

    • I also keep a sweater for wearing around the house and I wear it almost all the time (I live in an old house, and the heat tends to escape before it gets to my room on the top floor.) Sometimes I wear two sweaters, but at least it’s better than the extreme heat we had in the summer.

      I bake cookies a lot in the winter, which keeps it nice and warm.

  16. We were gifted an electric mattress pad several years ago, and it is quite possibly the best gift ever. I turn it on 15 minutes before I’m headed to bed, and then when I get in bed it’s toasty warm (I despise cold sheets!) I’ll turn it down lower once I get in bed, and then it gently warms all night (allowing me to turn the heat down way low – to 60 – to save $) My boys dislike sleeping with electric blankets (they are little heat generators, so they wind up tossing the covers off in the middle of the night) So for them, I fill a hot water bottle and put it under the covers right where there feet are, about 20-30 minutes before they go to sleep, so that it’s warm when they get in.

    Theresa’s last blog post..A(nother) Simple Mom Giveaway!

  17. Hi Rachel,

    Very timely advice. Thank you.

    You can also use “rope caulk” on leaky windows. It comes in white and brown and cost less than $10.00 for a box which will usually take care of all your needs. It can easily be removed and will not damage the paint or the window frame.

  18. Wear a hat. Seriously. I have a modest collection of really cute beanies that are part of my after-work-sweats-n-slippers ensembles. I even wear one to bed! I’ve found that my girls (ages 5 and 9) think it’s especially hysterical to wear their beanie hats indoors. I don’t even have to remind them anymore!

  19. I have found that wearing zip-up fleece vests inside helps tremendously – oftentimes part of the reason I feel cold is that I’m sitting at my computer, and that extra layer on my core really helps keep me nice and toasty!

    And hey…vacuuming really does warm the body up – not to mention help out the rest of the house! :)

  20. We have another baby coming soon and with a toddler our old home needed some help to keep warm. We did add an old pellet stove downstairs near the stairs so the warm air would drift up to the bedrooms but the biggest help will be the window quilts that my mother-in-law and I are making for our windows. We are designing them to be roll up shades for easy use. Can’t wait until they are done! this we are hoping will keep the single paned windows from leaking their cold air into the house and keeping the warm air in.

    Lynnette’s last blog post..Stuart Little by E. B. White

  21. Flannel sheets. We bought some this weekend and it made such a dramatic difference. No more waiting for your body to warm the sheets around you and you don’t have to use any electricity either.

    House coat. I have a full length, long sleeve flannel robe. Anytime I’m feeling chilly I put it on- over pajamas, over day clothes, whatever. Definitely helps and keeps me from going through several wardrobe changes trying to stay warm.

  22. Throws! Lots of them! Last Christmas I bought everyone monogrammed fleece throws from Land’s End- like $25 a piece, and we use them ALL the time. Our couches always have at least one. You can fold them and stack them in a large basket by the couches when you’re done. Also good for babies on the floor and unexpected spills.

  23. Oh these are some life saver tips. Just an extension to the drink something warm you listed… Drink some warm milk or make hot chocolate with milk instead of water. Milk helps you to sleep, especially warm milk.

    Mel´s last blog post..Decluttering

  24. Thanks for the tips! We just moved from California (it’s 80 degrees there now) to Nova Scotia (it’s 34 degrees here now)! Our first winter is one of lessons! Staying warm… good lesson!

    Dawn´s last blog post..Fun Monday

  25. Many utility providers (electric companies) will conduct energy audits for apartment dwellers as well as homeowners. They will give you ideas for how to cut utility usage and reduce drafts, etc. Sometimes they even give you free stuff, like fluorescent bulbs to replace incandescents.

  26. Victorian Librarian says:

    I’ll agree with those above who recommended the plastic “shrink-wrap” sheets for the windows. We tried them last year on our old drafty apartment windows, and they really helped keep out the breezes.

    Fuzzy socks or slippers to keep your feet warm also help.

    We have a small programmable space heater which can be set to run for only 1 hour, 2 hours, or indefinitely. We like to turn it on a few minutes before we go to bed (under our wool blankets and flannel sheets) and set it to turn off in an hour after we are asleep.

  27. Long underwear. Long underwear. Long underwear.

    Squawkfox´s last blog post..10 Ways to Build a Resume Like a Professional Resume Writer: The Do’s

  28. What a timely post – our heat pump has gone on the fritz just as temps plunged to an unseasonal low in the 20’s (we live in Georgia for crying out loud!) I think I’ll go bake something (anything!) and the thought of pulling out a sleeping bag from our camping equipment crossed my mind. I can’t wait to see the heating/cooling guy tomorrow – I just hope he isn’t slammed with similar calls. Thanks for warming my heart too with your cute drawings!

    Mary´s last blog post..Cooking (and eating healthy) for one

  29. If you have windows that let in the sun during hours that you’re home, make sure your curtains/blinds are open during those hours, and close them when the sun is no longer shining directly in them. Might as well let the sun help warm your house–free heat, and a mood lifter, too.

  30. This is great! I always get so frustrated by energy saving tips, because 90% of them are not applicable. Sure, it would be nice if I our water heater was not so old and rusted over so I could figure out what temperature the water is set to, but I don’t even dare to open that closet, and maintenance doesn’t care about my energy bill.

    When I’m done baking something, I leave the oven door open to let the last of the heat escape and warm the room. Also, we have two computers and they are both in the living room, and they keep that part of the apartment 5-10 degrees warmer than the rest!!

  31. I made draft stoppers last year for our drafty apartment, and put them in front of our doors. They worked pretty well.



    I think I may make a few more for our windowsills this year!

    Jen´s last blog post..Thanksgiving (1)

  32. I love reading your blog. Thanks for all your tips.

    I nominated you for an award over on my blog!

  33. I’m trying to lower my heating useage by 20% this year. I own my condo but a lot of the things I’m doing and that are working can work in a rental situation. I made insulated roman shades for the windows my house. And I bought blackout curtain liners that attach the curtains I already have hanging in the front rooms of my condo.

    I also wear fuzzy bunny slippers that my niece gave me around the house. They look goofy but they’re warm. And my little niece thinks I’m fun because I use the gift she gave me. ’nuff said.

    condo blues´s last blog post..Three Easy, Natural, and Free Fall Centerpieces

  34. i have found that one of the best ways to warm up is to go for a bike ride! crazy, but true. layer on some clothes and hit the trail for a quick ride. you’ll be toasty warm, from the inside, for hours.

    molly´s last blog post..How To Crochet A Leaf With Wire

  35. I love this post! I’m including it in my weekly Things to Write Home About post, going up later tonight. Thanks!

    Tara @ Feels like home´s last blog post..Friends of Home

  36. What a nice list of hints. I really love making use of things you are already doing to help heat up the house – e.g., after baking a delicious loaf of bread (hehe, cute pic, by the way), keep the oven door open so all that heat an slowly permeate into the kitchen an neighboring areas of the home.

    And do chores (e.g., vacuuming) at the coldest part of the day so you naturally up your body heat and don’t need to keep pumping up the thermostat.

    Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas´s last blog post..Romantic Las Vegas Recommendations

  37. a heated mattress pad.

    we paid $80 for ours at Target and it was awesome. We had no heat in our upstairs bedroom back in Massachusetts and we’d click our pad on (each side had it’s own dial, so it keeps couples happy) and then go brush our teeth, etc. for bed – by the time we came back, the bed was all toasty! We also had a down comforter and flannel sheets. perfect! They have timers on them to automatically turn off, which is a good safety feature.

  38. You have my favorite — bake something! The result is that I tend to eat much better in the winter than I do in the summer, or at least I eat warmer.

    (Also, soups. Big stock pots full of soups, chili, and stew.)

    Jess @OpenlyBalanced´s last post…Shouldn’t But Do: Act II Popcorn

  39. Our computers were set up close to the sliding glass door in our apt. So my hands would naturally be stiff and cold most of the time I was seated there.

    Solution: Fingerless gloves :) Cute, lacy, good for chilly days outside as well. No problems typing/getting keys out of purse/buttoning jacket.

  40. Katherine says:

    Thanks for posting! I referenced your suggestions on two apartment complex websites to give tips to the residents on keeping warm:


    Thanks again!


  41. 3 Things To Keep A Small Apartment Warm in Minnesota:

    1) Run the oven.
    2) Boil water on the stove.
    3) Use lots of candles.
    4) Run the shower at max hot.

    The first two come with the major catch of increased electric bill, but when it’s been 40-some-odd degrees on average you tend to care less..