Stay Warm in Winter without Firing up your Heating Bill

Ah February, the month that can warm your heart.  And freeze your bones.  We all know the typical advice to keep your home warm:  install a programmable thermostat, weather seal every nook and cranny, install energy efficient windows.  Yes, DO all of those things as time and budget allow.  But what about RIGHT NOW? Or what about an emergency situation when you have no power?  Here are some low cost, creative ideas to help you stay warm.  None require a drill or any kind of permanent installation!


Storm Warning! Power Outage!
You’ll want to hunker down together in one room.  Close off any unused rooms and consolidate your family activity into the warmest room in the house. If you have a fireplace or non-electric heat source, that’s the room to choose.  Make sure the windows are closed completely.  Lining the windows will be a big help.  Bubble wrap is one suggestion.  Another is a cheap, clear shower curtain.  Both of these ideas help keep cold air out, while letting the sun’s light and heat into the house.  If you have an especially drafty house, this idea doesn’t need to be limited to emergencies, though it might not appeal to everyone’s aesthetic sensibilities.  Consider putting down a rug or carpet, or even a blanket in emergency cases, to help prevent heat loss through the floor.


Other ideas for power outages include:
  • get out the sleeping bags
  • cuddle up together for body heat
  • no fireplace? Light lots of candles for light and heat.  Please use common sense and exercise caution.
  • put up a tent inside the house. This will trap the heat in an even smaller area.  Similarly, you can make a fort with blankets or even sleep under a table.  The idea is to create a sort of microclimate of extra warmth.
Of course, several of these ideas can be used during non-emergency times.  Other ideas for older, colder houses or for those looking to save some money:
  • open the oven after baking, the bathroom after a shower and the dishwasher after washing to distribute heat to other parts of the house.
  • close heating vents and shut doors to any unused rooms of the house.
  • rearrange your furniture to make sure nothing is blocking the heating vents.  Keep seating away from outside walls or drafty areas or move seating near vents.
  • consider space heaters to use whenever and wherever you are working/relaxing.
  • use, find or make a non-electric heating pad of some kind.  An old-fashioned water bottle might already be hiding in the house somewhere.  With some basic sewing skills, you can make a rice-filled pillow to heat in the microwave or oven.  Or get a stone or brick to heat in the oven and wrap in flannel.  You can put these at the foot of your bed before you retire or set them on your lap as you work or read.
  • stay hydrated!  We know that being hydrated helps our bodies function better in tea-438480_640general. But we also know we don’t tend to feel as thirsty when cold as when hot.
  • use warm beverages to stay hydrated.  Your coffee or tea can help you feel and stay warmer.  Boil some water and then keep it hot in an insulated teapot or thermos.
  • wear a hat inside. And wear warm socks.
  • consider wool. A wool shirt is costly compared to other fabrics, but it is an investment. It will last many years and is naturally insulating, wicking and anti-microbial (won’t stink if you wear it a few times).  Even a thin wool shirt will be very warming when worn under another layer.
  • long underwear. Thermal or silk underwear are lightweight but might provide just enough extra warmth to really up the comfort factor.
  • exercise! Get moving to warm your body and it will stay warm for awhile.
  • open the curtains during the day to let the sun in and then close them as the sun goes down to keep the warmth inside.
Instead of turning the heat (and your bill) up, focus on turning up your own internal thermostat with some of these ideas.  And feel free to share any of your own ideas!
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