Caulk around windows. Windows typically need the most attention, so check every window frame for leaks. Caulking is your first line of defense, and if you aren’t able to apply caulk on the outside, use painter’s caulking along the inside trim and frame. Another option is peelable caulk, a temporary caulking product that can be applied and removed at will.
Use drapes strategically. For extra insulation around windows and sliding glass doors, heavy drapes can be a help. Leave them open during the day so that the sun’s warmth shines in, then close them at sundown to keep that warmth indoors. You can also buy window shrink film at most home improvement stores. It’s a see-through treatment that creates a static layer of air between your room and the glass, insulating the glass to keep it from conducting the outside temperature.
Install foam gaskets. Wall openings around outlets and switches can also let in blasts of outdoor air, so seal the gaps with specially designed foam gaskets. Available at your local home center or hardware store, these gaskets are made to fit between the outlet or switch device and metal cover plate. They’re easy to install—just remember to turn off the electricity first to avoid electric shocks! Larger gaps can be sealed with expandable foam.
Let the heat flow. Make sure that all heating registers are unobstructed by furnishings and window coverings so that warm air can flow freely into each of the rooms in the apartment. If your unit has radiators, slide heat-resistant reflectors between them and the walls to send even more warmth into a room.
Get a smart thermostat. Want to conserve heat at night but avoid waking up to a cold house in the morning? Clock thermostats with a set-back feature can lower your heat automatically at night while you’re asleep, and then raise it in the morning. And the newest “smart” thermostats actually learn from your behavior and adjust themselves accordingly. They also let you control home temperature remotely and show you your energy consumption in real-time. If you purchase one for your rental, you can take it with you when you move on.
Two final quick tips to beat the cold: Spray door locks with powdered-graphite lubricant to prevent freezing and sticking, and set ceiling fans to rotate clockwise to force rising warm air back towards the floor.
Take a little time now to tackle easy improvements that will make your rental cozier and more efficient this winter. When the weather outside is frightful, but your home is warm and delightful, you’ll be glad you did.