We’re just past the start of the fall season. It’s beautiful to watch the leaves as they turn all sorts of vivid colors and the morning air getting significantly cooler. I believe some places have already received their first snow (a little early if you ask me!) but it’s all to remind us that winter is just around the corner…and with that, the unfortunate surprise of a high electricity bill. Can you say ‘Merry Christmas’?
Thanks to the advancement of green technology, we can now invest in LED lights to bring about the holiday spirit while saving a good chunk of money. But lights are a decorative choice and keeping warm is absolutely mandatory.
An occasional power outage due to bad weather, blizzards and snow storms is not at all uncommon. Some of these tips will also come in handy when your electricity is interrupted.
There are several things you can do to stay warm all winter long without spending too much money in the process.
37 Tips to Stay Warm this winter
1. BUNDLE UP!
I’ll start with the most obvious tip of all. You can probably hear your mother’s voice in your head as you read this…I know I can! But our moms were right and the key to staying warm is to wear several layers, whether you’re inside or outside. Some of the materials that will keep you the warmest are wool, flannel and fleece. Look for clothing made from these materials to keep you warmest.
2. YOUR EXTREMITIES NEED WARMTH TOO.
Keeping your your hands, feet and head warm are equally important in maintaining your overall body temperature. Wear a beanie and wool socks (or wool lined slippers) around the house. A quick way to warm up your hands and feet is by blowing hot air on them. If you don't have a space heater, use a hair dryer.
3. GET BAKING.
Nothing says winter like fresh baked apple pie and cookies. Use all the holiday baking opportunities for the purpose of heating your house too, or at least your kitchen. Once you finish baking, crack open the oven door to release the heat. Make sure to warn anyone coming around the kitchen to prevent a major burn accident. Use extra caution if there are kids, pets, and elderly people in the house.
4. ONLY USE THE EXHAUST FAN WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Sometimes we need to keep the vent going while we’re cooking certain foods and that’s acceptable. But the vent sucks out a lot of air so it’s counter-productive if you have the heat turned on at the same time. This goes for your bathroom’s vent too. Rather than turning the vent on while you shower, crack the door open and let the steam out that way.
5. WARM UP FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
One of my favorite things around the fall and winter seasons are soup and stew nights. A bowl of hot soup or stew can keep me warm for hours. Plan more warm dinners and give them a spicy kick to get more blood flowing through your body. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea and apple cider are not just festive but also incredibly helpful in warming you up.
6. USE THE DRYER.
If you’re feeling extra cold or are getting ready for bed, toss your pajamas or a sweater in the dryer for five minutes, then put the clothes on. It will give you the immediate boost of warmth that your body needs to overcome the chills. Ask your significant other to warm up your towel just before getting out of the bath…it’ll feel like a spa treatment, seriously!
7. TAKE QUICKER SHOWERS.
Warm showers are amazing in the wintertime but they can also become costly while your water tank tries to reheat a new supply of water. Using less water can significantly reduce your electricity bill, especially if there are several people living in your house.
8. LOWER THE WATER HEATER'S THERMOSTAT.
Typically a water heater’s thermostat is set to 140 degrees F. Since this is probably way hotter than you really need it, lower it down to 120 degrees F for a comfortable temperature for your home and a lower electricity bill. If possible, get a water heater insulation cover to prevent heat loss.
9. SLEEP IN A WARMER BED.
While we’re on the subject of cozy…(yes, snuggling is one way to keep warm but no, that’s not what I’m talking about). Get yourself some fleece bed sheets! It will feel like sleeping in between blankets and they won’t feel cold when you get in bed. Top it off with an electric blanket and you’ll be toastier than a marshmallow! Just to be safe though, don’t leave your electric blanket on overnight.
10. BAKE A BRICK.
You’ve heard of brick ovens, right? Well, have you ever thought of baking a brick!? As crazy as this sounds, it might be a lifesaving solution on those extremely frigid nights. Put two bricks in the oven and bake them until they’re too hot to touch. Then, carefully wrap them (individually) in old towels or blankets. Put one towards the bottom of your bed so your feet can get warm around them. Hold the other one around your chest. This should keep you warm for several hours, if not through the night.
11. USE HEATING PADS.
Microwavable heating pads are great for your hands, feet and back when you’re in need of a boost of heat. They feel especially good around the neck, too.
12. USE RUGS AS DECORATIVE INSULATORS.
While they won’t completely insulate entire rooms, rugs laid out in main living spaces (such as the living room and bedroom) will help maintain the room’s warm temperatures, especially when compared to wood and tile floors. Trying to heat up a house with wood and tile will take way longer since these kind of floors conduct heat rapidly. Not only that, there will be much more heat loss too.
13. COVER THE WALLS WITH BLANKETS.
If you’re experiencing extremely cold temperatures and your exterior walls are radiating cold, hang blankets up against them to provide another layer of insulation. It might not be the most fashionable look, but staying warm trumps a fancy decoration (or at least it should). If your walls are radiating cold often, you probably need to re-insulate them.
14. HANG OUT UPSTAIRS MORE.
Heating up a two-story house can become very expensive. Take advantage of the heat rising and try to spend time upstairs whenever possible, especially if you work from home.
15. USE SPACE HEATERS.
We typically spend the majority of our time in the kitchen and in one other room of our house (other than the bedroom for sleeping). Wherever most of your time is spent, rather than warming up the entire house to set a comfortable temperature, use a space heater to warm up just the area you need. Another alternative to this is a heated foot rest which can warm up your entire body, starting with your feet. This is ideal for people who spend lots of time at their desk. This is a really good and inexpensive option. It’s not safe to keep space heaters on overnight. Instead, sleep with extra blankets.
16. LET THE SUN IN AND SHUT THE COLD OUT.
Open the curtains during the day to let the sun’s natural warmth fill your home. When the sun starts to go down, close the curtains to keep the night chill out. Buy thermal curtains for the fall and winter season. These curtains provide extra insulation from the extra chill given off from the windows.
17. COVER YOUR WINDOWS WITH PLASTIC.
This is a cheap way to insulate your windows. Buy window film from the Home Depot, bubble wrap from Walmart, or a plastic shower curtain from the dollar store. Use it to cover the inside of your windows completely. The upside? It works! The downside? Other than looking sort of tacky, you won’t be able to open up your windows at all without breaking the sealed plastic. It’s recommended to use this film on bedroom and office windows. In the kitchen and living room, use thermal curtains so you can still ventilate your house and open the windows on warm days.
18. CAULK YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS.
I recommend a yearly inspection of your door and window frames. You don't need to call a professional for this. Light a stick of incense (so you can easily see the trail of thick smoke it leaves behind) and gently bring it close around the windows and doors. You’ll be able to notice immediately that the smoke starts blowing in a different direction if there's a draft of air coming through the weather stripping. If the hole is significantly big, you can use spray foam instead of caulk.
19. CAULK YOUR BASEBOARDS.
Although your house will already have insulation along the outside walls, provide an extra seal to the connection between the wall and the baseboards. Use clear caulk so it doesn’t mess up the color of the paint.
20. GET ALL YOUR HEATING SYSTEMS PROFESSIONALLY INSPECTED.
At the end of summer or beginning of fall, call a professional to come to your house and inspect the central heating system, the fireplace, the furnace and any other appliances. Clean them thoroughly every year to prevent clogging and other problems. Make sure to check the air filters once a month, especially if you use the heater every day, and replace them as needed.
21. SEAL AND INSULATE THE HEATING VENTS.
Check the attic to make sure that the ducts are as sealed as possible. For quick repairs, turn to metallic tape since it’s much easier to work with. Using duct tape is a bad idea because it will degrade overtime. As far as insulation goes, you may want to consider insulating the duct hose since heat is lost in the transfer between the attic (or basement) and through to your house.
22. CLOSE OR SEAL SOME VENTS.
Concentrate the heat in the rooms you use most. If there’s a laundry room or guest bedroom, keep the vents closed. (Obviously remember to open the vent in the bedroom if you’re expecting guests to sleep there.) Before you close any vents, talk to the person who repairs and inspects your central heating system. In my home, for instance, closing vents will ruin the heating system so make sure you get a professional’s thumbs up first.
23. KEEP VENTS AND RADIATORS CLEAR.
Putting furniture too close to the radiator or furnace is a HUGE fire hazard (unfortunately I learned this the hard way at 12 years old). Make sure there’s enough air flow to get the right air circulation which is key in maintaining the temperature in your house.
24. INSPECT YOUR INSULATION.
Experts recommend that you get your home's insulation inspected once a year, at least. If your house has experienced any water damage, whether it be flooding, bursting pipes, or leaks in the roof or attic, make sure you get the insulation re-done. Insulation can lose its thermal resistance if it gets wet. Cellulose insulation (used in attics) will lose its fire-retardant and insulating properties after it gets wet, leaving gaps in your attic and creating a major fire hazard. If anything needs to get repaired or replaced, do it before the winter season begins. Insulating your entire home will give you the best results. This includes the basement’s walls or ceiling, the crawl space, the attic, all the walls and around window and door frames.
25. INSTALL A RADIATOR REFLECTOR PANEL.
A reflector will reflect heat (hence the name) away from the wall. These are fairly cheap and can recycle a lot of heat that is otherwise being lost. For a quick DIY version, you can use tin foil. It’s not nearly as effective but it will help you nonetheless.
26. CLOSE THE FIREPLACE DAMPER.
A lot of air (and heat) is lost through the damper in the fireplace. Make sure to keep it closed while it’s not in use, or at least close the glass fireplace doors throughout the day, if you have those.
27. BUY A CORD, OR TWO, OF WOOD.
If you have a fireplace, use it! Not only does it make your home feel much cozier, but it gives you a source of heat that is cheaper than your central heating system. You’ll want a mix of hardwood and softwood. Softwood will help you get the fire started but will also burn fairly quickly. Hardwood will take a while to catch on, but it will burn much longer than softwood. Seasoned firewood will burn better because it has dried out for a longer period of time. Unseasoned firewood has been recently cut so there are many residues still present. It’s not a huge problem to use unseasoned wood but you will need to get your fireplace cleaned more often to prevent the residue from accumulating. Some of the best types of firewood are hickory, oak, birch and apple.
28. KEEP YOUR THERMOSTAT LOW.
Try to acclimate to a lower temperature inside your house. This doesn’t mean that you have to be shivering at home (that’s borderline dangerous) but rather than keeping it at a comfortable 75 degrees F, try to keep it at 65 degrees F throughout the day and about 55 to 60 degrees F during the night. Programmable thermostats are great because you can forget about the settings and go about your day. Another good option is to get a WiFi thermostat so you can program it from your phone.
29. REVERSE CEILING FAN ROTATION.
Some fans have a button on the control that will change the setting to “winter” mode. If yours doesn’t have that, you can do it manually. When the blades are not in motion, get on a ladder and locate the switch on the motor housing. Flip that switch to the opposite direction and you’re set! For winter mode, your ceiling fan should be rotating clockwise.
30. INSTALL AIR DRAFT STOPPERS.
You can put these around the house under any door you want. I recommend putting them under the exterior doors and the rooms that you’ve closed the vents to. These are fairly cheap to buy on Amazon but they’re also easy to make if you want to start a new DIY project.
31. INCREASE THE HUMIDITY.
During winter, the air is most likely to be dry. When the air is too dry, the cold will be felt much more. Humidity makes the cold feel a few degrees warmer. (That’s why tropical climates feel hotter than desert climates, despite the temperature being about the same.) To increase the humidity in your house, you can either buy a humidifier or you can get some houseplants. Look for rainforest and large-leaved plants to increase the levels of humidity, such as bamboo palm, rubber plant, areca palm, spider plant, boston fern and peace lily.
32. LIGHT MORE CANDLES.
Candles give off a little bit of heat. Although it’s not enough to warm up large rooms, it can increase a small room’s temperature by a couple degrees. A cool winter project is this DIY Flower Pot heater. Don’t expect it to replace turning on the furnace, but it’s better than nothing (and somewhat decorative too!)
33. JAPANESE KOTATSU.
The Japanese are amazing innovators. One of their inventions, the kotatsu, is a short table that has a heat source located below it. A blanket is attached around the table so you can cover yourself up with it while the heat source is turned on. This will centralize the heat and will keep you incredibly warm even if the rest of your house is freezing. You can purchase these all over the world although they’re a bit pricey because they’re imported. It might also be a cool DIY project to tackle!
34. WORK OUT.
Any activity you do will get your blood flowing and recirculating throughout your body. If your extremities are losing color or feeling, it’s your cue to get up and do something, whether it’s walking up and down the stairs a few times or doing a set of jumping jacks. A quick workout will warm you up in just minutes.
35. HIBERNATE IF POSSIBLE.
Going in and out of your house will expose you to temperature fluctuations which can also cause you to get sick easily. Of course you can’t avoid going to the office for work or taking your children to school, but perhaps skip a day to the mall on the weekend and watch a movie at home instead.
36. CUDDLE WITH YOUR FUR BABIES!
Sleeping next to your pets can make you very warm thanks to their residual warmth.
37. IT'S SWEATER WEATHER FOR YOUR PETS TOO.
If your pets don’t have a thick layer of hair, get them a sweater. They might not like to wear it at first, but I'm sure they will be grateful for it anyway.
Winter time is one of my favorite seasons because of the snow, Christmas lights, and the general warm holiday spirit. It can be an expensive season too, unless you’re able to cut down the cost of utilities and find different methods of staying warm.
I hope you found these practical tips useful and that you’ll have a warm winter without breaking the bank! Did I miss any tips? Let me know in the comments below!
ONE LAST THING!
Winter is also a dangerous season to be driving in. Is your car prepared to withstand winter emergencies? Make sure you are prepared with everything you need BEFORE you need it.
Check out these 53 winter essentials that you should have in your car!
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