Until it’s not, because you failed to take basic steps to winterize your house. These tips range from the banally practical to keep-your-ass-alive heating hacks. It’s important to assess your own specific needs – and also to be prepared for the unforeseen.

Moist air feels warmer
Dry air feels colder, and can dry out sinuses, exposing you to infections, which can also make you feel colder. Consider buying a humidifier: one used in sleeping areas at night can allow the room to feel more comfortable, even if kept at a lower temperature. Barring that, heat a large saucepan of water on the stove once a day. While this uses more energy, it saves on the initial investment of the humidifier…just don’t forget to watch it, and turn off the burner without letting it boil dry.

Cats and Furnaces = Natural Enemies
Or at least your kitties shed fur is. Clogged filters are a great way to increase your energy bill for no good reason at all: furnace filters are cheap and generally VERY easy to replace. Renters: check out the filter yourself. Not every landlord has your energy bill in mind.

Treat Winter Like the Mean-Spirited Bastard It Is
And keep him outside. Most people tend to use one entry more than others; consider placing a blanket over less-used doors. Strive to limit the how often doors are open, and for how long. (My dog has learned to bark when he’s done pissing, so I’m not standing there holding open the door when he’s just trying to show me his cool new stick.) Also, try to blanket off rarely used rooms with exterior doors.

Hack Your HVAC
If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to keep the house a few degrees cooler at night, and throw an extra blanket on the bed; set it so it comes back on around when you wake up – or just let the freezing toilet seat take the place of that first cup of coffee.

Run Your Ceiling Fan in Reverse
This helps to draw warm air (which rises) and push it more evenly throughout the house.

Winter storms can be a doozy for power lines. Ice formation, high winds, and downed trees are all too common, and great at knocking out the grid. Outages don’t usually last too long, but it’s good to be prepared for those that do:

Have plenty of candles on hand.
It’s not hard to find 100-hour candles – long-lasting gel-fueled burners that can really come in handy on Day 3 of a power outage.

Battery-powered lanterns.
With a little aluminum foil and some ingenuity, you can illuminate most rooms well enough to cook or even read. Use rechargeable batteries, and when the power comes back on, be sure to remember to plug them in and harness some of it for future emergencies.