Renovation tips to cozy up your home

Ilyce R. Glink
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Winter is here and, for many of us, that means it's cold outside. Our homes become our refuges from the icy wind and snowy weather, so we strive to make them as warm and cozy as possible.

There are a lot of tricks and fixes to make your place warmer, ranging from installing a fireplace to adding a simple DIY door draft stopper that helps trap heat while you're trapped inside. You don't have to turn up the heat when you're wrapped in warm blankets in a toasty living room.

Add more fabric and rugs

The quickest and easiest way to make your home cozier is simple: more blankets, more pillows, more curtains and more rugs. Hang a few extra throws or blankets around the couch or hide small blankets under pillows. A new throw rug will keep warm air from escaping under the floor, and one conveniently placed in the bedroom will keep your toes warm in the morning.

Also consider thicker curtains or shades that keep heat in and cold out - but remember to pull them back during the day to drench your home in sunlight whenever you can.

Consider a fireplace

There's nothing cozier than warming up by a fireplace. Don't have one? Not to worry - you can purchase them at various price points. Electric fireplaces may not be as authentic, but they produce heat and mimic the sensation of staring at the fire as it crackles away. You can pick up a base model at your local home improvement store for just a few hundred dollars.

If you want something more realistic, don't be intimidated by installing a fireplace. While a full fireplace with chimney could cost upwards of $10,000, a more modest selection starts at around $2,000, according to contractor Joe Crisafulli, owner of Crisafulli Building and Remodeling in Washington, DC.

[Thinking of installing a cozy new fireplace? Click to find the right contractor now.]

Fireplace installation has gained in popularity, even for families that already have one fireplace.

"Ultimately, turning on the fireplace is less expensive and gives you that nice, warm, cozy feeling in the winter time," Crisafulli said.

And if you'd like to enjoy the outdoors, consider a fire pit and a blanket to cozy up to on a warmer winter night. Fire pits run for as little as $100.

Eliminate drafts

The best way to make sure your home is warm is to seal it up and stop drafts. The easiest way to find spots where air might be escaping is to take a candle along corners, edges and other possible draft spots and look for it to flicker, indicating there is a draft, then patch the hole with caulk.

And you can always employ the help of a door draft stopper, which were quite popular but have fallen out of use. These sit at the bottom of your door to keep the draft out and sometimes are shaped like snakes.

While expensive, replacing windows can also help keep your home warm and cozy during the winter. But for people with older windows, such as single-pane or aluminum-framed, this could be a perfect way to heat up your home and save energy, as well as increasing the overall curb appeal of your home.

"If you're planning on staying in the house for more than three or four years, then they are a good investment," Crisafulli said. "They will pay off in energy savings by then."

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

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