Imagine this: You feel a chill and set the thermostat to stay nice and toasty. You then curl up on the couch and turn on the TV.

But even with the heater cranked up, the room doesn’t seem to get any warmer.

You reach for a blanket, but still feel cold; it’s just not comfortable and now you can’t even concentrate on the movie because you’re worried about why your home’s so cold and how this will affect your electric bill.

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t have to imagine any of this. It’s a reality, every fall and winter, like clockwork.

Fortunately, you don’t have to freeze — you just have to know why it’s so cold in there, and take steps to correct the situation.

Here are 5 reasons why your home is cold.

Danny Lipford caulks around the windows outside a home.
There are a few things every homeowner should do before the weather turns cold, and one of them is caulking the exterior’s gaps and cracks.

1. Cold Air is Leaking Inside

If you feel a draft, it’s because cold air is leaking inside your home and you need to seal your home’s ‘envelope.’ The envelope is the physical barrier that protects the inside, climate-controlled environment from outside weather.  

To seal the envelope, go outside, clean any cracks and gaps around windows and door frames, and cover them with a bead of acrylic or polyurethane caulk.

Next, install weatherstripping to seal any gaps in exterior doorways. Here’s a rule of thumb: If, during the day, you see sunshine passing through the side of the door, you need to install weatherstripping or replace old weatherstripping that has failed.

The same rule applies under your doors. If you see daylight passing through, you’ve got a draft, and you can block it with a door sweep or a draft dodger.

A door sweep, such as The Duck Brand’s Triple Draft Seal, simply slides under the door — no tools required. It has three key parts: an inner seal to maintain room temperature, an outer seal to black drafts, and fins on the bottom to keep out water.

A draft dodger is a homemade item you can rest against the door to keep out drafts. You just need fabric, filling (like uncooked rice) and basic sewing skills.

If you don’t want to go the DIY route or to constantly reset your draft dodger when you’re indoors, a more convenient option is The Duck Brand’s Double Draft Door Seal, which has foam inserts you can easily cut to size, cover with fabric and strap into place.  

Smart thermostat installed on a wall just outside the bathroom
Zoned heating can make sure your home’s climate control matches your unique needs. (DepositPhotos)

2. Your Heating System Doesn’t Cover Your Whole House

If you have a two-story home, just one heating and cooling system won’t cut it. You really need two separate units to control what, essentially, are two separate homes.

Of course, what’s ideal and what’s realistic are often two different things. Having two systems would boost overall comfort on each level, but it also would significantly boost heating costs, and that may not be in your long-term budget.

So, here is a compromise: consider upgrading to a zoned ducted system. You just need one heat pump and as many motor-driven dampers to monitor and control airflow in each zone, whether it’s the kitchen, the living room or the bedrooms.

There’s another benefit to zoned climate control: You can save energy by heating only the spaces that you use.

Man wearing a mask and gloves while installing mineral wool insulation in the attic
Most homes could use some extra insulation.

3. Your Home Needs More Insulation

Insulation has the most impact on your home’s energy efficiency, so it’s important to keep your attic well insulated and keep cold air out of living spaces.

You can know a lot about insulation’s strength by its R-value, which ranges from 2.0 to 8.0 per inch of insulation.

It’s pretty simple: The higher the R-value, the better job the insulation does. Fiberglass and cellulose insulation have R-values of 2.9 to 3.8 per inch while sprayed foam insulation can go as high as 8.0 per inch.

Of course, despite sprayed foam insulation’s high R-value, it’s best to avoid if you live in an area with lots of termites.

In addition to adding insulation, don’t forget the attic’s entry — you can cover it with a tent such as The Duck Brand’s Attic Stairway Cover.

Man changing air conditioner filter
You should change your air filter every 90 days. (DepositPhotos)

4. Your Air Filter is Too Old

It’s been said that two things are certain: death and taxes. But really, a third thing should be added to that list: air filter replacements!

Air filters don’t last forever; they require changing or cleaning every so often (usually every 90 days, for optimal efficiency).

Filters trap debris and allergens throughout your ventilation system, but they can’t do their job if they’re clogged. And if that happens, your heating and cooling system simply can’t push air through your ventilation pipes.

The worst-case scenario is straining your A/C and having to buy a new system for $5,000. Even if the situation isn’t that dire, the system just may not do a good job of heating your home.

HVAC professional checking air conditioner
Annual air conditioner tune-ups are important.

5. Your Heater Needs Maintenance

You may be able to replace an air filter, but can you clean out the heating and cooling system’s drain hole? Can you check its refrigerant levels? Can you lubricate and inspect all of its parts for functioning?

There are some things that you just have to leave to the experts, and that’s where annual tune-ups come in.

Professional maintenance visits can help you rest assured that your system isn’t just working, but that it is doing so optimally.

If you’ve tried everything else, and your home is still cold, it’s time to call in the experts!

Consider a Warranty

If you are worried about your heating and cooling system breaking down, consider a homeowner’s warranty. A review team independent of Today’s Homeowner looked at the coverage plans and prices offered by some of the best home warranty providers, as well as providers such as HWA Home Warranty and The Home Service Club.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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