It’s a known fact that Japanese apartments have ultra-thin walls. This means subpar heat retention during the cold winter months. Even though Japan’s winter isn’t as cold as other countries’, the temperature can get bothersome unless you keep your electric heater, air conditioning, or kotatsu running 24/7.

Take insulation into your own hands

Before the winter months set in, you can take some time to insulate your apartment without breaking your wallet. Head to any hardware store and buy rolls of bubble wrap. Place layers of bubble wrap on your doors and windows, and you have yourself makeshift insulation that you can remove and reuse for the following winter.

While you’re at it, check if your windows or doors have any cracks. Daiso or any 100 yen store sellsすきまテープ (sukima teepu) which is a foam material with a sticky side. You place them on any openings to ensure your hot temperatures stay inside and are not mixed with cold wind from the outside.

Consider a heater

Another great way to winterize your apartment is to use a heater instead of air-conditioning. There are six main types of heaters to choose from: oil, panel, halogen, carbon, ceramic, and kerosene. Oil heaters look like radiators and can release up to 1,200 watts of power, making them excellent at heating bigger rooms. However, they can be power hogs. Panel heaters are thin and great for smaller spaces, with their output of about 300 watts. These consume about ¥9 per hour of energy.

Halogen and carbon heaters look similar, with lightbulb-looking strips behind a metal grill. Carbon heaters vary in output and energy consumption but have been touted to be quite reliable in keeping warm during winter. Lastly, you have the expensive yet energy-efficient ceramic heater that usually comes with other features like air purification and kerosene heaters which need kerosene as a fuel source.

It’s recommended to choose a heater based on your existing space and for how long you plan on leaving it on. If you’re concerned about energy consumption, you can go for those with a built-in timer so that it doesn’t run all night. Another way to ensure the device functions efficiently is to keep your doors closed and wipe the heater clean.

Blackout curtains actually work

Ever since I learned of the magic that comes with thick blackout curtains, I don’t mind spending more on these curtains because of their multiple benefits. On top of keeping a room relatively cool during Japan’s scorching summer heat because of their UV-blocking liner, these curtains also trap heat during winter. They’re thick for a reason, so you can consider changing your curtains to blackout or extra thick ones during winter. This way, the valuable heat generated from your heater or aircon doesn’t escape.

Get better sleep with a heated blanket or carpet

When a room is cold during winter, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep. Instead of keeping power-hungry appliances on for eight or more hours each night, you can consider a heated blanket or pad which keeps you warm enough throughout the night. Electric blankets are readily available at home stores or online at

Wooden floors in winter are enough to send cold chills up your spine. If you want an alternative to heating up the entire room, why not focus it on one section and keep yourself warm with a heated carpet. From there, you can cover yourself with a blanket, and just these two can provide you with a cozy experience while you relax.

Eat and dress hot

Take that clay pot out because it’s time for some soup and hot food that warms the soul and body. Yes, keeping your insides nice and warm is an excellent alternative to keeping the air conditioning on for extended periods. The stove and pot can also double as a heat source, so you can give other appliances a rest.

Whenever you’re at home, put on a thick and fluffy pair of lounge pants and long sleeves. Pamper your feet with thick socks and slippers. These simple steps trick your brain that you’re not really cold because your body is more covered from the environment. It’s not difficult to find the right fabrics for the task because most clothing stores would advertise their winter clothing and home blankets before winter starts.

Focus activities in one heated room

Another great way to save up on electricity bills is to limit home activities to one room, if possible. If you live in an apartment with multiple rooms, you can consider focusing the heat on one room where you can conduct most of your daily activities. For example, instead of the living room, you can heat up a bedroom and transfer a few appliances you need, such as a computer in the same room.

By doing so, you allow the heater or air conditioner to work in a smaller space which directly leads to less energy consumption. If you work from home, the transfer might also be a good change of environment to boost productivity and motivation.

With just a few tweaks to your home or daily practices, you can brave the cold months with no problem! You can remain in a comfortable setting and soon enough say hello to the beautiful start of spring.