Tips & Tricks for Keeping Your Home Cozy this Winter

Does the photo above scare you? It should! It was taken during last year's snowpocalypse here in Chicago — the third largest blizzard in the city's history that left people stranded in their cars on Lake Shore Drive. Those days of snowstorms and subzero temps are right around the corner, you know. Before you know it we'll all be barricading ourselves indoors, practically going into hibernation mode until next spring…

Following are some tips for keep your home cozy during the long, cold winter. Hey, if you're gong to hibernate, you may as well be comfortable!

• First of all, get your home ready for a long winter's hibernation. Whether you use Maxwell's 20/20 Home Cure to clean your home a little at a time or take a day to do one big winter clean-up, it'll be nice to have a fresh start for winter. I'm a big fan of washing my windows, cleaning out my refrigerator, and washing my walls before winter arrives.

• If you have forced air heating, consider having your vents professionally cleaned. A whole lot of dust settles in those vents and once you're using the heat on a daily basis, it'll all get blown out into your living space. Yuck.

• Speaking of the air, with the windows all sealed up tight for the season, maybe an air purifier is the way to go. Mat recently rounded the Top Ten Air Purifiers for Small Spaces.

• With radiator heat, this may be your last chance to clean your radiators before they're fully in use and too hot to handle. Canned air is a great way to blow the cobwebs and dust out of the nooks and crannies of a radiator.

• Drafty windows can make all the heat your furnace is producing practically useless. Check out How to Shop for Window Insulation on Marketplace for help in dealing with drafts. Curtains and window shades are also helpful in buffering drafts.

• Lucky enough to have a fireplace? I'm going to put my jealousy aside (oh how I want a fireplace in my apartment!) and remind you to have your chimney cleaned and checked once a year.

• Combat the dry air with a humidifier. Or, in a pinch, simmer a pot of water on the stove. Drop a cinnamon stick into the simmering water and your house will be infused with a delicious scent!

• Since you're going to be building fires and burning candles, now would be a good time to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. You want to be cozy — not burned to a crisp.

• Taking a long steamy shower can warm up even the coldest bones on a wintry night. Hang some eucalyptus from the shower head and breathe in the aroma of the herb's essential oils.

Image: Jason Loper