By Melissa Rayworth, Associated Press
As temperatures drop and daylight is in shorter supply, we fight back: We crank up the heat in our homes and turn on lights earlier and earlier. And yet we also want to keep our heating and electric bills as low as we can. Can you keep your home warm and inviting all winter while still conserving energy? Yes, you can. Here are some ideas on how to keep things cozy while minimizing energy use.
Warm, cozy upholstery fabrics work on a practical level by holding your warmth when you touch or sit on them. They also work visually: A room full of soft fabrics will give you a psychological sense of warmth that adds to your enjoyment.
Add thick throw blankets to chairs and sofas, and swap out silk-covered pillows and even lampshades for ones covered in thicker, nubbier fabrics like muslin and burlap.
Consider using thick curtains in winter. A decade ago, drapes were considered fusty and expensive. But with so many beautiful, inexpensive options available today, they’ve become popular again. Besides adding color or a bold pattern to a room, curtains block cold air that might leak in around windows. And they muffle sound from outside, which helps make rooms feel more insulated in winter.
Don’t forget outdoor living spaces. The same techniques can help warm up outdoor rooms, like covered porches and sunrooms. Try Sunbrella’s outdoor velveteen fabric for chairs and sofas or thick, woven blends.
Light the fire
Crackling flames in an indoor fireplace can change the feel of a room instantly. And outdoors, they bring a welcome infusion of heat and light on a winter evening.
If you’re building a new outdoor fireplace, leave ample room for seating, such as an outdoor sofa where people can snuggle up and talk.
Another option is a propane-powered space heater. The newest models are cost-effective and stylish. A tall space heater works on a covered porch and can be wheeled to wherever people are seated. Once lighted, the glass tubes that contain the flame from the propane tank are visually appealing.
Lay down rugs
Gleaming hardwood or tile floors are lovely in spring and summer. But in cold weather, add a thick rug. This will not only warm your feet, but also change the look and sound of your space.
An outdoor rug can have the same impact. Thick outdoor area rugs are made of acrylic/wool blends. The wool feels great on your feet and definitely locks in warmth.