Handy Ottawa Winter hacks for your car, home and sanity!


It may look like the end is near with these balmy winter days we’ve had lately in Ottawa but realistically, we still have a couple of months to go, at least.  February can be bleak so what better time to re-evaluate how we are handling the winter “blaghs”.  Here’s a handy list of Winter hacks for you car home and sanity to get you through these next few linger months Ottawa!
If your car gets stuck in the snow, try putting kitty litter under the tires to gain some traction.  You can also use your car’s floor mats to help you get traction if you get stuck and don’t have any other options
Cover your wind shield wipers with old socks so snow won’t stick to them.
Spray your car windows with a 3:1 vinegar/water mixture. This will keep ice from forming on your windows (though you will still have to remove the snow).
Park facing east, so that the sun will do much of your snow removal work for you.
Throw a piece of carpet or area rug over your wind shield to keep off the ice and snow. Tuck it under the wind shield wipers to hold it down, then toss it in your trunk when you’re ready to go. If you get stuck, you can also use it to help you get traction.


Run your ceiling fan on low and spin it clockwise (reverse) to help warm air trapped by the ceiling to make it back down to floor level.
Utilize the sun to help warm your home by opening the curtains when the sun is out. Even with external temps low, the sun will help your home stay warmer, especially via south-facing windows. To take advantage of passive solar!
Caulk both the inside and outside of your windows. Outside, focus on the sealing around all the edges of the sills with a water-resistant product. Inside, use a temporary silicone caulk around all moving parts of the window. In the spring, when it’s time to open everything up, the silicone will break loose easily and not damage paint or varnish.  You can lose a lot of heat through drafts.
Close unused rooms to help contain the heat in one area or save money by closing the heater vents in rooms you are not using.
Make a super simple terracotta pot heater, instructions can be found here
If your house heater is a wall-mounted heater or radiator, put a layer of tinfoil against the wall to help reflect the heat back into the room. Be careful not to use anything else that would be a fire hazard!
The ductwork in our homes carries the heat from room to room. Ductwork that’s not well-insulated, disconnected, or dirty impedes air flow and makes your heating system work harder. Check ducts in the attic and basement, vacuum them out, and seal loose connections with a metal-backed tape.
Ice on frozen door handles can be melted off with hand sanitizer.  Likewise, a spray of WD-40 can keep a keyhole from getting frozen in the first place.
Insulate your garage doors to save energy and stay warm.
Turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees. With a sweater, you won’t likely notice the difference, and you can save significantly on heating costs. Similarly, turn down the setting on your hot water heater. You will still be able to take warm showers, wash clothes, etc., but you will save on your energy bills.
Tired of your floor getting wet when the kids come in from the snow? Put pebbles in a tray and those shoes will drain through the rocks.
If you run out of salt but need to de-freeze your steps or driveway, mix together one teaspoon of dish washing liquid, one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and half a gallon of hot water, and pour over side walks and driveways to melt ice.
Though more expensive than the other strategies, insulation gives you a big bang for your winterizing buck. Keep it simple and don’t get lost in complex R value calculations. Just remember this simple rule of thumb — you should have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic.
Reduce hat hair by using dry shampoo when you remove your winter headgear. It will help lift squashed roots.
Likewise, staticy hair can be tamed by running a dryer sheet over your hair a few times or you can even skewer a dryer sheet with the bristles of your hairbrush, and leave it on to get rid of static while you brush your hair.
Screw some screws on the sole of your shoes to keep you from slipping
Keep a tea kettle filled with mulling spices boiling at all times. This will help keep the air a bit moister and will fill your home with a wonderful smell.
Get out in the natural light. It will boost your mood even if it seems gloomy.
Take vitamin D. Your body naturally produces this when you’re in the sunlight, and so you make less in the winter. It can raise your mood significantly.
Spray your snow shovel with nonstick cooking spray or silicone-based lubricant to help prevent snow from sticking
Sweep light snow away with a broom rather than a shovel
To get more grip on slick surfaces, place a few zip ties on your bike tires for better traction


Use a disposable razor to get rid of your sweater pills.
Wear sunscreen. Even when it’s snowing. Just do it.
Tired of always having wet socks? Slip a sandwich bag over each sock before putting your shoes on.