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Your guide to a warm and cozy home this winter

living room

Here in south Texas, we’re not used to cold days. So when the thermometer dips below 35 degrees, there are several things that homeowner’s can do to keep their house brighter and warmer without using more energy or cranking up the thermostat.

1. Wipe down dusty light bulbs, clean light fixtures and vacuum lampshades. By doing this little trick, your home will appear 30 percent brighter without turning on more lights.

2. Go green and purchase indoor plants to brighten up a room and decrease the amount of dust in your home. Indoor plants including golden pothos and gerbera daisies are particularly adept at sucking up nasty VOCs — the vapors emitted from household cleaners, paints and dry cleaning. And, since plants increase humidity levels, they also help decrease household dust.

3. Paint. Pick out a bright new paint color for those chilly rooms in your home, especially those with north-facing walls that typically don’t get sunlight. According to a Michigan State University study, reds, oranges or yellows can actually help a room feel warmer.

4. To keep dust from circulating throughout your home, change your HVAC filter every two months, especially if you have pets. When purchasing air filters, pay attention to the efficiency ratings, which are listed on the packaging. Values between seven and 13 are typical for an average home.

5. Vacuum while your thermostat is set to “fan on.” This helps filter dust that gets kicked-up while cleaning. Just leave the fan on for about 15 minutes after you finish vacuuming and switch it back to “auto” afterward. HVAC blowers aren’t intended to run all the time.

6. Remove your window screens in the fall and winter. The screens trap dirt and grime and make your home appear darker both inside and out. Taking the screens off of your windows will give your home good curb appeal too.

7. Seal sneaky air leaks. Windows and doors are not the only areas that suck the warmth out of your home. Don’t forget to plug those gaps around recessed lights, electrical boxes and wall outlets. Use a scented candle to hunt down those drafty spots throughout your home, while leaving behind a nice aroma.