30 Frugal Ways To Stay Warm In Winter

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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!

Frugal Ways To Stay Warm in Winter

Frugal Ways To Stay Warm In WInter: Hot Water Bottles

Be Better in Bed

1. Bag it. 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.

2. Throws. 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.

3. Two words: flannel sheets. 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.

4. Pile it on. Add extra blankets to your bed, and consider an electric one! It costs pennies to run an electric blanket all night. It takes a LOT of pennies to run a heater for even one hour. So, layer on those blankets or get an electric blanket to stay toasty all night. (Related: How to Wash Electric Blankets.)

Watch What You Wear

5. Comfort over couture. Sure, those leggings are comfortable, but you’ll also be cold in them! Looser-fitting clothing traps more of your body heat, which helps you stay warmer. Go for multiple layers of natural fiber clothing and save the spandex/Lycra for later.

6. Wear these. 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. Don’t like slippers? Try these washable slipper socks instead.

7. And this. 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.

Window Watch

8. Lighten up. Open the curtains on the sunny side of your house during the day, and the radiant heat will help warm your home. Close them before sunset to trap the heat indoors and shut out the nighttime chill. (Related: Ways to Lower Heating Bills.)

9. Block! 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 barrier to prevents drafts and heat-loss through window panes.

10. Look what loves layers. Use insulated curtains, or add thermal liners to the curtains you already have. When shut, they’ll prevent heat loss. (You might sleep better since they shut out light, too.)

11. Got these? Use them. Use storm windows or storm-doors if you have them. They add another layer of insulation, block drafts, and can prevent heat-loss. Take them down as soon as the temperatures begin to rise to avoid mildew growth.

12. Hunt these down. 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.

13. Save it for summer. You don’t need an AC window unit in winter, and leaving it in place means more gaps in your windows for cold wind to blow through.

Catch What You Can

14. Let it sit. 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, but it will also 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.)

15. Reflect on this. 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.

Kitchen Magic

16. Simmer time. There’s a reason we associate soups and stews with chilly weather. Long-simmering meals heat up the kitchen as well as our bellies, so bust out those kitchen scraps and get the soup on.

17. Drink up… properly. Hot tea or coffee, 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 when the alcohol prevents your blood vessels from constricting you’ll quickly begin losing body heat.

18. 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 complex carbs or you’ll get a 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.

19. Let it 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 curious pets.)

Shut It, Already.

20. Lock it up. Don’t just close windows and doors — lock them. Doing so ensures they’re fully closed and will reduce drafts.

21. Close it off. Keep closets, cupboards, and unused rooms shut so you aren’t paying to heat them.

22. Close this, too. Leave your garage exterior door closed to keep heat-stealing drafts from reaching the inner walls of your home.

23. Catch the flue (not the flu). Keep your fireplace flue closed when not in use and you’ll shut out drafts that bring cold air down the chimney.

Do It With Decor

24. Cover this. Use rugs on floors, especially around sitting areas and next to your bed. They’ll keep your feet warmer and act as insulation, too.

25. Rearrange things. Arrange furniture so your sofas, chairs and dining table aren’t near the walls. This keeps furniture from blocking heating vents and moves seating away from chilly walls and windows.

26. Shelf-stable. Place your bookshelves against the exterior walls, and they’ll help reduce heat loss. Take the opportunity to give your books a good cleaning while you’re at it.

27. Spin it backward. Since heat rises, reversing your ceiling fan will pull the warm air from the ceiling and send it down to where you want it.

Generate Heat

28. Don’t just sit there. Not feeling energetic enough to do a major cleaning? Then do a few one-minute chores throughout the day. You’ll get your blood pumping, and your home will look nicer.

29. Use these wisely. A space heater can warm the room you’re in so you don’t have to heat the whole house. Select one with an auto-off timing feature and a sensor that shuts the unit off if it tips over. Take it with you if you change rooms, and NEVER leave it running unattended.

30. Snuggle Up (ideally under blankets) with your spouse, kids, and pets. By sharing body heat, you’ll both stay warm.

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  1. Mariette's Back to Basics says:

    Dearest Katie,
    Great points and for # 12, I often wonder when visiting blogs, how few people actually do insulate their windows enough. Even with double glass, still a lot of heat/energy/$$$ escape if they are not being covered. We do have solid oak indoor shutters, had them made in 1990 by a Virginian woodworker and guess those saved us big $$$. The front door has a heavy cotton/rayon curtain from wall to wall and till the floor (almost) while kitchen and veranda have pull down heavy linen shades on cords. That for sure works and we close up at night all the time.
    Using common sense is what always works!
    Hope you and your family had a meaningful Thanksgiving and that you are all okay. Stay cozy and warm.

  2. Katie Berry says:

    Hi Mariette!
    Most of our windows have double glass but, because they’re old, the insulating seal has failed. I can sit next to a window and feel cool air pour in! So every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas we install those plastic insulation kits. They work well, and if they’re trimmed properly they don’t really show. Of course, I use heavy curtains in our bedrooms, too, and have them all along the back wall in our living room (which is almost floor-to-ceiling windows).

    Not long ago I read about using a heavy curtain over the front door, but haven’t been able to find any photos of someone with one. Would love to see yours!

    Merry Christmas and many warm wishes to you and yours, too.

  3. Kristie H. says:

    I made foot warmers for myself and friends by using some fabric scraps to make pouches and put several cups of rice (regular uncooked) in them and sewed them shut; then microwaved them (had to experiment with the time) they stay warm a lot longer than the microwavable slippers and I have used them as a “heating pad” on a back ache and cramps, and put one at the foot of my bed at night (I keep my heat at 60 or so daytime and 50-55 at night) the one I made for my bed is a pillowcase filled with approx 5# (yes 5 pounds) of rice that I heat for 5 minutes in microwave and it stays warm for hours (4 or 5 hours last night) I like sleeping in a cold room because I sleep better when the room is cold and cold feet keep me awake.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Those sound very creative, Kristie! I love your idea about the heated pillowcase. That’s brilliant!

    2. Robyn Howe says:

      I did an experiment with this several years ago and found that organic wheat stays warm longer than rice. Perhaps it has more oil in the kernel? I also sewed a square of corduroy material into a bag with the top end not stitched. Sew up from bottom to about 2″ from the top and 2″ spaced so bag has long pockets with the top opened. Fill each pocket with wheat to desired thickness. Then stitch along the top. The 2″ not stitched allows wheat to flow from one pocket to fill or empty from another if you want a ‘softer’ feel. Sitting this on it’s base against my back in bed while on my side gives me some more sleeping options than just flat in bed.

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Robin,
      A higher oil count makes sense! Your homemade rice back warmer sounds so cozy.

  4. Not very sensible to move book shelves to out walls? and get condensation and black mold building up due to lack of circulating air space.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      If your indoor humidity levels are so high that black mold would develop in the 1-2 inch gap between bookshelves and walls, you’ve got bigger problems than the location of your shelves.

  5. Carol Goldie says:

    We have had black mould. Ruined one of our dining room walls. Specialist said our house is too cold . We needed to warm the house and open a few windows. We have also now got a dehumidifier. Saving on heat has cost a couple of thousand pounds in repairs

    1. Katie Berry says:

      How odd, since mold grows best in warmer temperatures. Maybe he meant that having the heat off reduced air circulation, which is essential to preventing mold?

  6. Robin Phillips says:

    With the cost of gas and electric going up I thought it would be good to stock up on stuff now like hot water bottles or when I’m out shopping just see what I see if I think it could be useful, also good Christmas presents like new slippers, hat and scarves. I think as I look back over this comment that planning ahead is good even though it is summer.