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The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Products to Help Keep You and Your Home Warm This Winter

These days opening your electricity or gas bill can leave you in state of total shock. Just last week, our local utility company placed a newsletter in with our bill telling us that the prices will be increasing this winter. And as yesterday morning was the first chilly one of the season, it got me thinking about inexpensive ways to keep warm this winter. So for all you Budget Smart Girls who like to stay toasty warm, here are some products I’ve found to help stretch your energy dollar. The best thing is that they’re all reasonably priced and will give you a good return for your investment.

Did you know that windows are responsible for nearly half of a home’s heat loss? Replacing old ones with more energy efficient windows is one way to correct the problem, but a quicker and cheaper solution is to look at window treatments. The Shade Store www.theshadestore.com offers design assistance via their new live chat on their site. And can also offer you tips on making your home more energy efficient, help you with measuring and installation, and even e-mail you before and after photo tips.

To get you started here are some tips from The Shade Store design experts-

•Insulate with elegant, style-savvy drapery: Draperies offer a layer of insulation that can dramatically improve a home’s heat retention and lessen drafts. For greatest insulation use fabrics such as linen, cotton, wool sateen, wool flannel and suede. (Additional privacy and interlinings significantly increase insulation).
•Layer for warmth: A roman shade layered with drapery adds instant design sophistication and additional insulation for the cozy look and feel in any room.
•Design + function: Minimalist, simple cellular shades are highly energy efficient with honeycomb cells that are designed to trap air and insulate your windows (perfect for bathrooms!)

Solar Film
There’s another product you can use to keep the warm air in….and the hot air out in summer, and that’s solar window film. There’s an added bonus too, by using solar film you reduce fading and UV damage to things like rugs and furniture. Check out this company’s Web site for more details on solar film www.chbwindowfilm.com.

Keeping Snuggly Warm
One thing I hate most about winter is getting into a cold bed, but one way around that problem is to buy a heated blanket. Sunbeam offers a great line of heated blankets that have automatic preheat controls and dual controls for queen and king size beds. Check the whole line out at www.sunbeambedding.com. The Web site tells you where you can buy them and also has an on line store if you have trouble finding a store in your area.

Blankets and Throws
If there is one good thing about a cold-winter night, it’s that you get to wrap yourself in a throw or blanket while you’re watching TV. If you’re thinking about buying one for yourself or even as a holiday gift, one that I can highly recommend for price and ‘snugglyness’ is the Polarvide brand from IKEA and they’re just $4.99. I have one on just about every chair and couch in the house, and yes, including my office chair. They keep you warm, they wash well, and yes, even the cat loves them too. www.ikea.com.

For Your Existing Curtains
Two years ago after a cold snap, I decided to buy some insulated drapes. I have to say I think they do keep the rooms warmer. Now my dilemma is I have a few more rooms still without insulated drapes and as the drapes in those rooms aren’t old, I don’t want to just throw them out. Well, it’s a dilemma no more; some companies now sell backing that you simply tie onto your existing drapes. One is Solutions. They’re available in two sizes and are called Line-A-Tab and cost just $24.95. www.solutions.com.

A Drafty House
It seems like no matter how much you insulate and caulk the gaps around windows and doors, on some bitter cold days there’s still a draft. A company called Carol Wright Gifts sells what they call a Draft Guard Roller that you fit onto the bottom of any door. It’s item #35758 cost is $4.99, if you buy more than one, you save a $1. www.carolwrightgifts.com.

Make Some Improvements
There’s one catalog I love to receive and that’s Improvements. It’s full of items that can save you time and money around the house. Here are a few I found that might help your energy dollar stretch further www.improvementscatalog.com.

Room to Room Fan, for getting heat from one room into a room that’s not quite so toasty warm, and a great way to warm the whole house without cranking up the thermostat #144925 $29.99.

InteliVent # 328238 for spreading the heat from the vent to the rest of the room. And right now these are a bargain. They were $49.99, now they cost just $9.97.

And Equalizer Register Booster #49254 which is a fan that fits over the vent and pushing the hot air further into the surrounding area. $44.99.

Before There Were Heated Blankets
Okay, call me old fashioned but one of the best ways to keep warm is to use a hot water bottle. They’re inexpensive and don’t use any energy. I often put a couple of them into the bed about half an hour before I plan to turn in for the night. Look for them at drug stores like Walgreens.

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