If the holiday season sees your bank balance dropping as fast as the outdoor temperatures, you’ll love these frugal ways to stay warm in winter without turning up the heat!
- Let the sun shine in. Open the curtains on the sunny side of your house during the day and the radiant heat will help warm your house. Close them before sunset to trap the heat indoors and shut out the nighttime chill.
- Let the heat out. After cooking dinner, prop the oven open to release its heat into the kitchen. Do the same with the clothes dryer and dishwasher, too. (Unless you have small children or terribly curious pets.)
- Don’t drain the tub right away. After a hot bath, let the water sit in the tub until it reaches room temperature. Not only will the heat from the water warm your bathroom, it will help increase your home’s humidity — something that makes the air feel warmer AND helps prevent painful winter-dry skin. (Skip this if you have small kids.)
- Go old school. Fill up a rubber hot water bottle while you’re doing the dinner dishes and seal it tightly. Slip it between your sheets to preheat your bed, or keep it on your lap and you’ll feel warm all evening.
- Snuggle (ideally under blankets) with your spouse, kids, pets, UPS delivery person… well, maybe not the latter, but the former are wonderful to snuggle with, and by sharing body heat you’ll both stay warm.
- Reflect heat to the room. If you have radiator heating, cover a large piece of cardboard with aluminum foil and slip it behind the radiator, then fasten it to the wall. This will reflect heat back into the room instead of losing it to the outdoors!
- Go for comfort over couture. Sure, those leggings are comfortable but you’ll also be cold in them! Looser-fitting clothing traps more of your own body heat, which helps you stay warmer. Go for multiple layers to stay even warmer (or if, like me, you’re going through the occasional hot flash that has you complaining about how hot it is, even if you’re standing knee-deep in snow).
- Wear slippers, or at least socks. If your feet are cold, chances are the rest of your body will feel cold, too. So make sure everyone in the family has a pair of slippers to wear inside the house, and teach them to leave them on until right before they get into bed so they’ll be handy when they wake up in the morning. Don’t like slippers? Try these washable slipper socks instead.
- Have plenty of throw blankets around, and use them. When you’re watching TV it’s easy to get cold because you’re not moving around. Don’t turn up the heat; wrap up in a blanket instead. Or go a step further and turn the heat down… then wrap up in a heated throw blanket.
- Use rugs on bare floors — they’ll not only keep your feet warmer, they act as insulation, too.
- Block those breezes! Seal windows and unused exterior doors with plastic insulation kits. They’re not difficult to put on (you just need a blow dryer) but they create a nice barrier that prevents drafts and heat-loss through window panes.
- Windows love layers, too. Use insulated curtains, or add thermal liners to the curtains you already have.
- Two words: flannel sheets. Seriously, if you’ve never tried them, ask someone who has. They never feel cold when you get into bed, they retain your body heat all night long, and after a couple of washes they’re so soft it feels like you’re sleeping in a (warm, cozy) cloud.
- Add extra blankets to your bed, and consider an electric one! It costs around a penny to run an electric blanket all night. It costs a LOT of pennies to run a heater for even one hour. That’s why I’ve programmed our thermostat to 55° F at night when we’re all tucked into our beds with our electric blankets (and flannel sheets). It’s not as tough as it sounds: I’ve also programmed the thermostat to warm the house before anyone’s alarm goes off in the morning, so we really never notice if it feels cold at night.
- Listen to your mother: wear a hat. It may seem silly to wear a hat indoors, but if you’re faced with the choice of putting food on the table or heating the house, wearing a hat suddenly makes a lot of cents… er, sense.
- Simmer on the stove. There’s a reason we associate soups and stews with chilly weather: these long-simmering meals heat up the kitchen as well as our bellies, so bust out those kitchen scraps and get the soup on.
- Drink up… or not. Hot tea or coffee (in moderation), hot cider and broth are all delicious ways to feel warm. But skip the alcohol: you’ll feel warm at first as blood rushes to the surface of your skin (which is why your cheeks look so rosy after a few sips), but then the alcohol prevents your blood vessels from constricting, so you quickly begin losing body heat.
- Carb lovers, rejoice! Winter gives you a reason to nosh on your favorite noms. Since our bodies convert carbs to energy more rapidly than we convert protein, a regular dose of carbs can help you keep warm. Just do your body a favor and choose unrefined, complex carbs or you’ll get that whole blood sugar crash that often leaves a person feeling cold and shaky… and sends them back to eat more bad carbs in the hope of warming up again.
- Lock it up. Don’t just close windows and doors; lock them. Doing so ensures they’re fully closed and will reduce drafts.
- Close it already! Keep closets, cupboards and unused rooms closed so you aren’t paying to heat them.
- Don’t heat the outdoors. Leave your garage closed to block heat-stealing drafts from reaching the inner walls of your home.
- Use storm windows or -doors if you have them. They add another layer of insulation and can prevent heat-loss.
- Find and seal leaks. Use a lit candle or incense to detect drafts around windows and doors, then caulk them or add draft-stoppers at the base of your doors.
- No fire burning? Keep your fireplace flue closed when not in use and you’ll shut out drafts that bring cold air down the chimney.
- Don’t just sit there: clean something. Not feeling energetic enough to do major cleaning? Then do a few one minute chores throughout the day. You’ll get your blood pumping PLUS your home will look nicer.
- Rearrange furniture so your sofas, chairs and dining table aren’t near the walls. This not only ensures your furniture isn’t blocking heating vents, but it also gets you away from the chilly walls and windows. (Got a fireplace? This is the time of year to make it the focal point in your room!)
- Move your bookshelves to exterior walls. Books make excellent insulation, keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. Take the opportunity to give your books a good cleaning while you’re at it.
- Reverse ceiling fans so they’re spinning clockwise. Since heat rises, reversing your fan will pull the warm air from the ceiling and send it down to where you want it.
- Remove and store window air conditioner units. You won’t need them in winter, and leaving them in place means more gaps in your windows for cold wind to blow through.
- Use a small space heater, wisely. A small heater can warm the room you’re in so you don’t have to heat the whole house. Take it with you if you change rooms, but NEVER leave it running unattended.
Do you have frugal tips to stay warm in winter without turning up the heat? Share in the comments, or join the discussion on Facebook!
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