Today we got our first real snow up here in the frozen north, and waking up to all that white powder (and a home that’s a few degrees colder than I might like) got me to thinking about ways to keep warm this winter. I’ve already raided my spiced tea stash and fought the cat for a fuzzy blanket, but I’ve also come up with a few home improvements to help beat the cold that don’t just involve hunkering down, cranking up the heat, and waiting for spring.
Heat When You Need It
One of the absolute must-have home upgrades for the winter season is a programmable thermostat like this Seven Day Thermostat from Hunter. If you haven’t heard or heeded this advice already, these are new thermostats that you can digitally program with your family’s daily schedule, so your heat turns on automatically when you need it, and off when you don’t. Most people opt for this upgrade just for the energy savings, but what I really love about them is that they’re able to heat up the house before you wake up in the morning or right when you get home from work without running your heater all night long or all day while you’re at work (and without having to wander through a cold house to turn the heat on every winter morning!).
Spruce Up Your Shower
If you’re anything like me (I’m looking at you, cold natured folks) long hot baths and steamy showers start to look a whole lot more appealing a whole lot more often once the needle drops below freezing and you start having to trudge through the snow at least twice a day. So if you know you’re going to spend more time than average washing the cold away during the winter, now is an excellent time to add a few luxury upgrades to your shower. Any nice, full-coverage shower head will do, but I think a new shower panel like this A300 from Ariel is an especially nice treat. It uses the same amount of water as a regular shower head, but hits more of your body with hotter water all at once. Plus, because shower panels easy to install (about the same as installing a new shower head), it’s a little bit of winter pampering that won’t require extra work to pull off.
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Speaking Of Bathrooms…
When you’re doing a major remodel, one of the more popular upgrades these days is installing heated floors. But if you don’t have them, winter isn’t always the greatest season to do major construction, so it might be better to apt for something smaller. I think towel warmers like this aptly named Winter Towel Warmer are a godsend, because not only do they mean hot towels and toasty warm robes ready for you first thing in the morning, they also help heat your bathroom as a whole so you won’t have to step on a chilly tile floor first thing on a cold, dark winter morning. Just make sure you know the difference between an electric towel warmer and a hydronic one – they install differently, and certain kinds (like the designer towel warmers from Scirocco) need to be hooked up to your water heater.
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Did Someone Say Sauna?
If you’re feeling especially adventurous (or especially cold) this winter, adding a sauna to your home or bathroom is a great way to raise your body temperature, no matter how cold it is outside. Saunas are enclosed wood-walled rooms that are heated to very high temperatures with an electric-powered heater. These range in size from just a few square feet to sprawling lounge spaces, and are designed to promote circulation, metabolism, heart health, and are even used to help remove toxins from the body. Saunas are popular in many of the colder countries of Europe in no small part because they make the cold feel good by comparison, and help improve your circulation, which can help you better handle the cold. In the US, you can find DIY sauna kits in a variety of sizes (as well as some pre-assembled models) to build one anywhere in your home that has an outlet, and enjoy all the health benefits of a sauna as well as just the good old fashioned heat.
Wish You Had A Fireplace?
Winter is the time of year you start tossing logs in the fireplace, but if you don’t have one, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the heat and hominess one provides. Ventless fireplaces like this tabletop Lexington Fireplace from Anywhere Fireplace are both more elegant and more effective than your average space heater, with a real, natural, clean-burning flame that can install anywhere in your home – on your wall like a TV, on a tabletop, or even in the middle of the floor like a centerpiece. You just fill them with liquid fuel, ignite, and enjoy just like you would a traditional fireplace – great for supplementing heat in a small space, or just adding a modern take on a fireplace to a contemporary home.
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Sometimes It’s The Little Things
It’s possible that only people that live in really cold climates will understand this last one, but hopefully there will be enough of you nodding your heads to make mentioning it worthwhile. Have you ever sat down on a really really cold toilet seat? If you answer, glaring, yes at least once a day, you might want to consider investing in what might seem like the most frivolous of luxuries – a heated toilet seat. High tech toilet seats like this Heated Toilet Seat from INAX largely originated in Japan, but are starting to gain popularity here in the US. Many come with a whole host of other features, from built in bidets to night lights and even sound systems, but whatever other options you choose to include, having a heated toilet seat means beating one of winter’s little miseries without much trouble or expense.
Getting creative with your heating is not only the best way to stay warm throughout the winter season, but also a great way to keep winter from getting you down. You might not be able to stop the snow from falling, but you can at least keep the chill out of your bones! What’s your favorite way to stay warm during the winter? Does your home have any fancy features to help keep you toasty?