How to

2 March 2017

Cheap and Easy DIY Projects to Battle the Cold

Nothing is worse than a persistent draft that never seems to abate. If you’ve resorted to full on onesies or a perpetual blanket, you may want to consider trying these DIY projects as low-cost solutions.

DIY Projects:

Clay Space Heater

Img: Off Grid Survival
A space heater can be fussy to hook up and take up valuable real estate in small homes. Rather than spend money and expend electricity on a space heater, make your own portable one with a couple unpainted terracotta pots, a large bolt with nuts and washers and some tea lights.

Img: Tactical Intelligence
The first thing to be heated by the candles is the metal core. From there the innermost terra cotta pot is heated and radiates heat to the middle pot. It is only a short time until the largest outer pot is heated through, and the surrounding area reaps the benefits of this cosy warmth. Once the terracotta pots are heated to the point of retention from the candles, it is a great conductor of heat. There are some obvious size limitations as a terracotta pot won’t provide sufficient heat to a large room, but it can work well in unheated garages or small studies.

The image link above includes instructions to make a stand/base for this contraption, but the entire project can be simplified based on the supplies you have to hand.

Vinegar Ice Spray

The clear liquid known as white vinegar is extremely versatile. It can be used to create a chemical-free countertop spray, clean fish tanks and help with a number of household issues. When it comes to cold, a vinegar spray can make winter mornings much easier to deal with. Treating the windshield with a vinegar de-icer and ice prevention spray the night before will prevent frost from forming overnight. If frost does form, the wipers will have an easier job removing it. We’ve written about this solution before, but it never hurts to have a refresher.

Woollen Insoles

Img: Maya*made
Many people find it a challenge to keep warm in winter. Whether their inescapable cold is due to insufficient clothing or a tumultuous sleeping pattern, custom woollen insoles may be the solution. They’re a cinch to make, especially if you already wear insoles. Pick up some good-quality, thick woollen felt and use regular insoles as a pattern. These insoles are relatively cheap and will keep your feet comfortable in cold weather.

Draft Stoppers

Much in the way a doorstop can be made out of fabric and rice or unpopped popcorn, a draft stopper can be made of the same materials. Actually, a draft stopper can be made out of any material you’d like and can be modified to suit individual sewing skills and materials. There are countless tutorials to go off of. The beauty of this project is that it can be customised to fit doors or windows and styled to suit the space.

Emergency Can Heater

Img: Preparedness Mama
If your house loses power, it can be a real struggle to establish a heat source for cooking and warmth. The well-prepared person has an emergency can heater stashed in the back of the closet just for these moments. All that is needed is a new, empty quart-sized paint can, a bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol, a roll of toilet paper and matches. Remove the cardboard roll from the toilet paper and stuff it into the paint can. Pour the bottle of rubbing alcohol into the can to be absorbed by the toilet paper. That’s it! Hammer the lid back on and tape a box of matches to the side.

Once the heater is ignited, the paint can will get very hot. Place the heater on a stable, fireproof surface. There’s no need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning from rubbing alcohol as burning alcohol gives off water vapour and carbon dioxide. If you are still concerned, be sure to provide ventilation by opening a window.

Extra Tips:

- For anyone with a ceiling fan, take a careful look at the directional rotation of the fan. When it’s cold outdoors the fan should spin on low in a clockwise direction. Having the fan on this setting ensures that heat circulates the room. In the summer, the fan should spin counter clockwise. Changing the rotational direction will modify the function of the fan: to blow cool air or circulate warm air.

- Bubble wrapping your windows prevents the warmth from escaping. To make this work without looking like a run-down halfway house, it is best to assemble the bubble wrap onto a storm window type structure. This can be done with wire coat hangers, bubble wrap and clear tape. The final product is a little rough, so I’d recommend using this solution in low-traffic areas like in an unfinished basement or garage. 

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).