Outsmarting Winter: 35 Hacks To Beat The Cold

By Harpreet K

As winter barrels in, it brings along a medley of challenges that can throw your daily routine off-kilter. Those frosty gusts are like a stress test for your cozy home’s heating, while the snow-laden streets transform your smooth drive into a slippery puzzle. Fear not! It’s time to unveil some ingenious cold-weather hacks to tackle these wintery woes head-on.

If you’re on the hunt for ways to outsmart winter’s harsh blows, look no further! From whipping up simple recipes for warmth to DIY wizardry that’ll maximize your car’s performance, this article is your ultimate guide to warding off the chill. You might not adopt every tip verbatim, but you’ll certainly snag a handful of clever ideas to finally bid adieu to those nagging cold-related problems.

1. DIY Slip-Proof Shoes

A significant issue that makes the winter not ideal for walking about is the slippery floor in your home. The precipitation from the air or the snow-melting particles can make your living room or driveway a hazard. You can keep your balance with a set of slip-proof shoes or slippers.

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Instead of buying a new pair, you can make slip-proof shoes at home. Insert a few short screws into the sole. Make sure they don’t penetrate, or you may damage your feet. You can also increase your shoe’s grip by using sandpaper to grind the sole.

2. Defrosting Alternatives to Salt

Want to save some cash on defrosting your driveway this winter? Instead of salt, you can go for an alcohol solution that is faster to act and easier to procure. Moreover, you can quickly spread the solution over a large area, whereas salt can only occupy a small space.

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Mix 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol with 2 cups of dishwashing liquid in half a gallon of hot water. You can splash it directly on the floor to melt any ice within minutes. Although, you should take care to avoid any plants in the way. The solution is potent for most household vegetation.

3. Homemade Common Cold and Flu Remedies

You need not spend a cent on the common cold and flu tablets if you have a few natural ingredients in stock. Check your cabinets for garlic, licorice, or peppermint. Mash any of them and use the extracts in your next hot beverage if you have any cold or flu symptoms.

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You can also use garlic cloves and peppermint leaves to gain instant relief. Place garlic cloves near your nose, chest, or ears before taking a nap. This process lets your body absorb its essence without ingestion. On the other hand, you can grind the peppermint leaves and mix them with hot water for decongestant steam.

4. Opening the Curtains on Sunny Days

Most people try to keep the interior of their houses closed during the entirety of the winter. Still, there might be days when the sun is shining with all its warmth, and you may let it all go to waste if you’re not aware.

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Natural sunlight can keep your house warm during the day. But you have to open the curtains or blinds to let it in. If you have a few systems in place, you can retain much of it till late evening without needing any other heat source.

5. Mittens from Recycled Sweaters

Do you have any old worn-out sweaters? Some great winter hacks for home involve using them as mittens, instead. Sew a part of the sleeves close from one end and cut the other end as per the size of your hand.

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You can cut a small hole at the side and attach some wool for your thumb if you so choose. It improves your grip and prevents your hands from going numb over time. Keep in mind that you need to sew it from the inside out. Otherwise, the thumb cavity remains blocked.

6. Using Your Ceiling Fan to Heat the Room

All the warm air in your room rises to the ceiling. Thus, you can use a ceiling fan to keep it in circulation across your living space. Operate the fan at a low speed and in a clockwise direction (if possible) to spread the warm air to every corner of the room.

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This method effectively makes the most of whatever heating solution you may utilize. You need less energy to provide heat if it moves around the room more efficiently. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about your heater/blower placement around the room.

7. Using Wax to Waterproof Canvas Shoes

Love wearing canvas shoes during the heat? You can also modify the same to use in the winter season. Wax is the key; whether a car wax sprayer or a high gloss wax cream. Cover the upper part of the shoe without applying any wax on the sole.

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The thickness of the layer depends upon the severity of the cold. You only need a couple of sprays if the temperature is not too freezing. Moreover, you can do something fancy by using wax crayons to create your custom styles.

8. DIY Clay Pot Heaters

To save on your winter heating bills, you can use terracotta pots instead of a heater or fireplace. They are quick to assemble, easy to carry, and environment-friendly. But, best of all, they add some puerile, calm vibes to any living space.

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You can build your own terracotta heaters by taking an empty clay pot, or more, depending on the size of the room. Place a large stone on the bottom and top it off with some candles. In addition, you can place the pot on a ceramic disc or a wooden stand for fire safety.

9. Fluxing the Ice from Frozen Locks

Ice formations that prevent locks from functioning are a cliche for horror movies set in the dead of winter. However, dealing with frozen locks on a chilling winter day in real life can be just as terrifying. You can quickly thaw such a lock through a couple of ways.

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The fastest method is to use a lighter or blowtorch on the lock. But, too much heat can mess with the locking mechanism. Instead, you can go for a slower approach by coating your key in petroleum jelly or hand sanitizer. Leave it in the lock for a few minutes to fully melt the ice.

10. Treating Yourself With Some Hot Chocolate

On cold winter nights, a pot of hot chocolate is the perfect companion before you retire to your bed. All you need is cocoa, powdered milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. You can also add cinnamon, marshmallows, and chocolate chips as per your taste.

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Hot chocolate can prove very beneficial for your health. It is high in antioxidants that are good for your heart and blood pressure. Consuming hot chocolate releases serotonin in your brain, a chemical that uplifts your mood and prepares you for a relaxing sleep.

11. Parking Towards the East

If you park your car outdoors, you might worry about the snow accumulating around it overnight. It costs a lot of time and effort to remove by hand. But, you can take care of the same naturally — park your car facing East.

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This way, you can get the sun’s heat to thaw the frost where it matters — the windshield and the engine. The morning sun melts away most of the frost within a few hours. You may still need to remove some of it manually, but most of the ice liquefies before you need to turn on the ignition.

12. Optimizing Use of Hot Bathwater

A warm bath in a tub or shower during cold winter mornings is an experience any waking soul looks forward to. However, don’t drain the hot water immediately after the bath. If you let it remain in the bathroom for a while, it can help keep any cold drafts at bay.

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Think of it the same way as a mini-sauna. The hot water adds some much-needed humidity and warm air throughout the room. It doesn’t just benefit you but also the ones who need to use the bathroom soon after you.

13. Concentrating Heat Where You Need It Most

Cold drafts are a significant reason for excessive heat waste in most homes. An open door or window can add hundreds of dollars to your bill within a few months. Therefore, you can minimize the effect by keeping the heat requirements in your abode isolated.

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Properly close and lock any doors or windows in vacant rooms. It can help you concentrate the heat in a single area, like a living room. This method can also build healthier relationships among family members while keeping your heating bill manageable.

14. Using Hot Water Bottles

With the right cold-weather hacks in place, you can keep your home warm without spending a cent on electricity. One helpful method is by using a hot water bottle in your bed. It can provide you with a relaxing sleep during the cold winter nights and grant relief from body pains.

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You can order a hot water bottle online for less than $12. Fill it with boiling water and place it within the sheets or blankets to keep your bed warm for several hours. Patients suffering from muscular or joint pains can also use it to gain some respite.

15. Making Custom Windshield Water Fluid

A jug of quality windshield washer fluid can set you back as much as $100. You can save that money and create your windshield water fluid at home. It is pretty popular among automotive enthusiasts who prefer winter hacks for home.

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First, empty a 1-gallon jug and pour in 8 ounces of 99% pure alcohol — both vodka and ethyl alcohol can work. Add water to the container, leaving enough space for an ounce of Castile liquid soap. When you’re ready, pour in the soap and use the solution as needed.

16. Using Orange Peels to Start Fires Faster

It can be challenging to start a fire when you need it urgently, especially when planning a trip outdoors with a few friends. In place of struggling with excess smoke, you can use orange peels as a swift fire starter.

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Orange peels have high quantities of limonene, which is a hydrocarbon. Therefore, it catches fire very quickly. You can stow a pack of orange peels after toasting them on a medium flame. When you need a fire, grab a handful and put them over a stack of wood/coal before lighting it up.

17. Keeping a Car Mat For Emergencies

No matter how well you drive, there is always a chance your car will get stuck in excessive snow. But, you need not worry when that happens. Keep an anti-skid car mat in the trunk at all times. It can help you get out of a tight spot within minutes.

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If your car gets stuck, pull out the car mat, place it next to the tires, and accelerate. Your car should get free instantaneously. If you don’t have a car mat, you can wrap a steel chain around the tires to get the desired traction.

18. Using a Broom to Shuffle Light Snow

Most people pry out the shovel from their tool shed at the slightest hint of snow on the porch. However, using a broom for a shallow spot of snow is one of the most straightforward cold weather hacks. A broom takes less effort to clean an area and is readily available in most households.

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You can use a push or angle broom to clean out patches of light snow from a driveway or balcony. For those looking for an even more convenient solution, water brooms and a splash of hot water can quickly eliminate any frost over a large area.

19. Avoiding Heat Loss Using Rugs and Carpets

An effective way to minimize heat loss in your home involves using materials with high heat retention. Using rugs and carpets around the house gives you plenty of space to move around. They are also easier to clean come summer.

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You can cover the floor of your home with rugs made of jute or wool. Silk carpets are pretty helpful but often not an option for most budgets. Synthetic rugs manufactured from nylon or polyester are a good bet as well. They are easy to clean while having good insulation properties.

20. Using Tin Foil to Keep the House Warm

If you have a wall-mounted heater or radiator, you can improve its heating efficiency with a few simple winter hacks for the home. These devices give off heat from both sides. Some of it permeates through the wall and gets lost in the environment.

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Thus, you can reflect this lost heat inwards in a couple of ways. You can place some sheets of tin foil on the wall adjacent to the radiator. Alternatively, you can use foam-backed reflecting sheets within the wallpaper. It is less effective but preserves the look of the room.

19. Non-Stick Shovel

If you have too much snow in your yard, salt might not be enough and shoveling is often the only solution to clear the way. You can make this monstrous task less tiring by preventing any snow from sticking to your shovel. You can do it in a couple of ways.

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Spray some non-stick cooking spray on your shovel. It will allow the ice or snow to slide off the top without effort. Alternatively, you can use vegetable oil to get the same result. Dip a cloth in oil and rub it across your shovel for easier snow removal.

22. Placing Votive Candles Around the House

Votive candles provide a way to heat your living space while keeping the ambiance uplifting. You can conveniently get them from your nearest gift shop. Or, you can make them on your own if you’re feeling a bit creative and want to save a few bucks.

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These candles don’t require any stands and melt into a specific shape. It keeps the surroundings safe from any potential fires. Moreover, you can make scented variants with the right ingredients. After all, who wouldn’t want the smell of fresh lavender or pumpkin pie around their abode?

23. Making Your Bike Tires Ready for the Snow

If you prefer commuting on two wheels, there are cold-weather life hacks you can use to extend their use to winters. Traveling on your bike across the snow can be treacherous. This is where a packet of zip ties may come in handy.

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Tighten a zip tie on every other or 3rd spoke of your bike, depending on the snow. It can help you gain extra traction over snowy surfaces. Remember that you should only do it for bikes with disc brakes. In the case of rim brakes, zip ties can reduce braking efficiency.

24. Making Custom Wool Insoles

Need simple cold-weather hacks to keep your feet warm during the winter months? Try putting your old woolen fabrics to use. Whether old woolen moss felts or sweaters too worn for use, you can use them in the sole of your shoes to stave off the cold.

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Take the insoles from your footwear and use them to cut the perfect fit. If the soles remain stuck to your shoes, you can use a paper mesh to gain a proper shape and size. Slide them inside your boots if it’s too cold to walk around barefoot.

25. Using Microfiber Towels to Dry Wet Shoes

Getting your feet wet, literally and metaphorically, is common during winters. The literal one is not always ideal. Wet footwear can cause your feet severe harm within a short period. It is why you should carry a few microfiber towels on your person.

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Microfiber towels consist of delicate loops woven tightly together. It allows them to absorb any liquids in mere seconds. Therefore, a couple of these can quickly dry off any footwear without letting the cold reach your feet. Although, you should have more than a few in stock at any given time.

26. Insulating with Running Tights

Keeping warm during winters need not include bulky woolen clothes. You can use running tights or pantyhose under your regular clothes to keep yourself warm. It is part of simple cold-weather hacks to get the most of your summertime clothes without giving up comfort.

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The use of tights reduces the weight of clothing. It provides you with more ease of movement when you require it. Additionally, you can save the bulkier winter clothes for when you really need them. You can also try ice skating tights for extra warmth.

27. Keeping a Clean Fireplace with Tin Foil

Relaxing in front of a fireplace makes for the most pleasant experience in the winter. However, that joy vanishes when you wake up to the sight of ash mounts all over the living room. To avoid it, you can put some tin foil to good use.

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Before starting the fire, place a two-fold layer of tin foil at the base of the fireplace. All the ash from the fire will stick to the foil instead of dispersing around the room. All you need is to remove the ash-covered tin foil the following day instead of vacuuming the entire room.

28. Keeping the Heat from Escaping Using Old Quilts

No matter how well you cover the blinds, some heat will always move outwards. You can use any old quilts or blankets as curtains around your house to mitigate this phenomenon. It might not look pretty but can save you a lot on heating bills long-term.

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Thick quilts are the best to prevent any heat from escaping your homestead. On the flip side, you may need stronger hangers to arrange them across any openings properly. The most effective method is to fix the upper part and use laces to operate the makeshift curtains.

29. Waterproofing Your Socks

What’s better than drying off your wet socks quickly? Never let them get wet in the first place! Using trivial household items, you may never have to deal with the dangers of wet socks during the winter season ever again.

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You can’t feel a lot when you put on the socks before wearing any shoes. So, you can wrap a sandwich or plastic bag around your feet. Use no more than 2 pieces per foot. Some people prefer putting on another sock over the covering to limit the movement of the material.

30. Recycling Dead Batteries as Hand Warmers

Old or dead alkaline cell batteries are often never fully depleted. They have some juice left owing to the lack of completing their chemical reaction. Instead of throwing them away, you can use them as hand warmers without spending too much on fancy equipment.

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First and foremost, you should use a battery checker or multimeter to ensure there is just enough current in the batteries. Too little, and it won’t be of any use. Too much, and you may damage yourself. Use a 1-ohm resistor to connect both terminals when you wish to use it.

31. DIY Slipper Boots

Mittens can make for excellent cold-weather hacks on a budget. But what about your feet? You don’t need to waste money on fancy slipper boots from H&M. Instead, you can make them at home without using any specialized tools. Well, other than thread and needles.

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Recycle any old, worn sweaters you may have stacked in the attic. Use the sleeves to cut the pieces you need for your feet. Cut a separate part of the fabric to form the sole. Sew the two together, and you have yourself some cute custom slipper boots.

32. Covering Windshield Wipers with Socks

Operating wipers during a blizzard can do you more harm than good. The snow on your car’s windshield is sticky and can make it difficult to see the traffic ahead. While you can use tools to scrape it off, you can use a winter hack that won’t cost you a penny.

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If you have any old socks lying around, you can attach them to your car’s wipers. Lift the front part of the wiper and slide the stocking in it. Secure it with safety pins so that it doesn’t flop over at highway speeds.

33. Recycling Old Clothes as Hand Warmers

Too afraid to use electrical equipment as hand warmers? Don’t browse online just yet. Try making a few from your old winter clothes. They can help keep the cold from your arms and could make a fashion statement if you so choose. 

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To make your custom hand warmers, cut two pieces of fabric from a woolen garment. Measure them across your arms and mark the lines that need sewing. You can modify them with various additions. Stickers, badges, dyes, or markers, use your creativity with anything around the house.

34. Leaving the Oven Door Open Past the Baking Session

If you love baking your favorite assortment of cookies or cakes in the winter, you may be paying extra for your heating bills. When you pull the tray out after a baking session, the oven is warm enough to supply some heat to your kitchen.

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Leave the oven door open for a short while and let the heat escape into the room. You’ll realize that you need to turn the thermostat down a bit within a few minutes. As a bonus, the smell of freshly baked cookies would make the room’s ambiance all the more joyful.

35. Blocking Cold Drafts with Pipe Insulation

Drafts of cold air can be hard to keep out, especially in old homesteads with gaps present in the woodwork. Some clever cold-weather hacks for homes involve blocking them in strategic places to make your heating system function more efficiently.

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You can use pipe insulation along the door and windows to do that. Pool noodles are a great alternative, too. You can cut them along the length and attach them with tape or chop them into smaller pieces to fill small gaps. It depends upon the spot in question.