Basic flat design has changed little in the past 100 years, with today's high-rise concrete boxes barely different from the beam-and-pillar walk-ups of the early 1900s. This may favour Hong Kong's summer months, but it's a different story when the mercury dips below 20 degrees Celsius. For many this means a miserable few weeks sitting on top of a bill-boosting electric fan heater. However, with a little careful planning and the right choice of materials it's possible to take the edge off the chill without having to resort to expensive electrical appliances or thermal underwear. Wood may not be as hard-wearing as tile or marble, but it's both warming and cooling, unlike more expensive alternatives. Cork and linoleum are relatively cheap and when laid in bathrooms and kitchens can provide a warmer feeling underfoot. If changing your flooring isn't an option, throw down a few rugs, especially in places where you spend a lot of time - near sofas, beds or desks. Opt for natural fibres such as wool, fur and fleece, goose-down and flannel, especially for sheets, blankets, cushion covers and duvets. Layering can help in the bedroom and can be more economical than buying a thick winter duvet for just two weeks of the year. Using two summer duvets, and doubling them during the winter, gives you a spare for the summer. Sandwich yourself between a natural or synthetic bed pad over your mattress, and a heavy comforter or wool blanket above the duvet. A couple of towelling or flannel-jacketed hot-water bottles provide a more eco-friendly and safer alternative to an electric blanket. 'I use quite a lot of Velveteen because it gives warmth in winter but also feels cool in the summer, says Caroline Ma of Jason Caroline Design. 'I don't believe in using fabric that only works well in one season.' Cold air can come in through doors and windows, especially older metal casement windows and wooden doors, which tend to contract in winter to leave gaps. Gloria Wong of Gee Design suggests thick, lined curtains for stopping window draughts at night. Pole-and-ring curtains are best because they can be easily replaced with lighter curtains or blinds later in the year, although keeping a room dark in summer will also help keep it cooler. Double-glazing or glass with a low emissivity (low-E) coating will also help prevent heat loss. A stocking or a long football sock stuffed with rags makes a cheap, if not particularly elegant, draught excluder that can be shoved up against a door from inside. Alternatively, install a small curtain rail above the door and hang a heavy, floor-length curtain that can be taken down in warmer weather. If you can't let a winter pass without spending money on gadgetry, there are plenty of cheap, practical ways of keeping the cold at bay. Under-floor heating can provide a warm bathroom first thing in the morning, especially if fitted with a timer, and can also help reduce humidity. 'Though not really a necessity in Hong Kong, under-floor heating can be installed relatively cheaply in the bathroom and kitchen areas during renovation,' says designer Angela Hall of AHD. 'Nowadays you can buy electric mats that can be installed under tile, stone and even timber. British brand Devimat can be installed with its own independent power supply and is turned on just like a light switch.' The price of reverse-cycle air conditioners has fallen considerably, says Ma. Add approximately HK$1,500 to the price of a standard unit and you can have warm as well as cool air pumped into your apartment. Reverse-cycle air conditioners also don't dry out the air as much as a stand-alone heater and they distribute heat fairly evenly. For those wanting the authenticity of a real log fire, Ma recommends a portable, alcohol-burning fireplace such as the EcoSmart by Design Link. With no need for gas or electricity, the company's fires even pop and crackle like the real thing. Warming colours for walls and furnishings help make an apartment cosy, as does lighting. 'You can have the best furniture and fabrics, but if the lighting is wrong the whole room will not come together,' says Hall. 'Incandescent and yellow-tone lighting, as opposed to white light, are the warmest available. Dimmers are a must to create atmosphere and warmth especially in the evening. LED lighting is popular now and comes in a variety of colours - but stay away from true whites and blue undertones because they're harsh and not conducive to creating a warm glow, especially on your skin.' Creating warmth in your apartment needn't be expensive or time consuming. But for those hardy souls willing to tough it out, Hall has an emergency option. 'If all else fails, buy a large shaggy dog, Ugg boots, and consume vast quantities of hot chocolate.'