Hate to sound like a whiner, but there are few things that put me in a worse mood than feeling cold. I shiver, clench my jaw, my skin is tight and itchy, joints are stiff, and the packed on layers I’m forced to wear make me feel like 20 lbs of bologna stuffed in a 5 lb bag. All of it gets me straight up cranky.

I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. I read a study on how Emperor penguins, birds suited for extreme cold, when given the opportunity, will waddle their way indoors to warmth. Inanimate objects “feel” the same way. You know that whining sound a car engine makes when it doesn’t want to turn over in sub freezing temps? (Sounds like a soundtrack from my bedroom when I don’t want to “turn over”).

But like it or not, winter is here (and far worse for some of us than others) and we have to deal with it. So instead of cursing the cold darkness, I’m going to light a candle, which just so happens to be 1 of my 9 tips for taking on Mister Snow Miser so you can combat the cold.

Norma heaterHeat Things Up

Electric space heaters are energy efficient and safe when used properly (be sure to read the owners manual!). I prefer convection models (as opposed to radiant) because they’re great at heating an entire room by blowing their heat out and around the space.

I bought this small one for my bathroom and it’s the best thirty bucks I ever spent.

Let The Sunshine In

Thick drapery will help keep out the cold, BUT windows with sun exposure will help heat up your home. So pull open those drapes on sunny days!

Cut A Rug

Add rugs wherever you can – in the bathroom, flanking your bed, in front of the couch. I have sheepskin rugs on each side of my bed that I pull out in the fall. Love ’em! They’re warm on the tootsies and rugs actually hold heat in the room.

Cozy Up With Candles

Candles visually and physically add warmth to a room. Some candelabras are designed to fit in fireplaces, but if you don’t have a happy hearth, placing candle on an accent table in a cozy corner can make the room toasty. A WORD OF WARNING: NEVER LEAVE BURNING CANDLES UNATTENDED!

hearth candelabra

Seal It Up

You’d be shocked if you saw your home through the eyes of an infrared camera. Cold air sneaks in everywhere! In the event you don’t have a Thermal Imager gun lying around, do this test: wet your hand and pass it around exterior door bottoms, outlets, switches, baseboards, etc. Chances are you’ll feel a cool breeze wafting in. Use door sweeps, caulk, weather stripping, etc. to seal things up. Frost King makes a slew of DIY insulating products that you can use all around your home. They even make outlet and switch sealers!

Insulate Pipes

My 1930s home had a little surprise waiting for me when on one absurdly cold morning I went to flush the toilet only to find no water was running because the pipes froze. A quick trip to the hardware store for pipe insulation tubes made sure that never happened again. Be sure to know the width of your pipes and count how many elbow connectors you’ll need for a perfect fit. Also, buy proper tape to connect the tubes together.

Cover Your Plants

Do a little research on your plants and see which are susceptible to uber cold temps. Cover them with burlap, plant blankets, even an old sheet will do – anything to prevent frost from settling on them. If the sun hits and temperatures warm up, remove the coverings or the accumulated condensation will freeze and end up killing your plants when the temps drop again.

Water Heater InsulationGive Your Hot Water Tank A Blankie

Although hot water tanks have built in insulation, if yours is outside or in the garage I recommend covering it if temperatures in your area remain below freezing for most of the winter. I especially love the UltraTouch Denim Insulation Hot Water Heater Blanket because it’s made from recycled denim and has no itchy fiberglass or toxic chemicals in it.


If there’s ever a time to pull out baking and slow cook/roast recipes it’s in the winter. The warmth of the oven plus the scents of home cooking are sure raise the thermometer and cozy factor.


With these tips, a few fuzzy throw blankets, and the occasional (or daily) hot toddy, you’ll be more than ready to brave this record cold winter!

Norma sig

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.