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The cost of energy is skyrocketing around the world and the days of setting our thermostats at a cozy 76 degrees in the winter are over, at least for now. In these days of tight budgets and expensive utilities, learning how to stay warm with less heat can save you several hundred dollars a month on your heating bill. Luckily, there are all sorts of low-tech ways to stay warm with less heat.
Not many people can afford an astronomical utility bill and the prices of natural gas, propane, and electricity are only going up from here. We’ll need to use other methods for staying warm aside from cranking up the thermostat if we want to stay cozy without going broke.
While a lot of these ideas came from my time living in a cabin in the frigid Algonquin Forest (here’s more about that adventure), I also used several of them while living in Mexico in a place that only gets chilly a month out of the year, and thus had no central heating.
I’ve lived in all sorts of houses and worked with different types of heat.
Back when I lived in the aforementioned inexpensive cabin with wood heat and a million-dollar view I learned exactly how drafty and chilly our little house was. The breeze off the lake also increased the nip in the air. With an older wood stove as our only source of heat, the rooms more distant from the stove moved from rather chilly to downright COLD.
Later, I lived in an old house with radiators. It was usually cozy in our moderate climate, but on days when the mercury didn’t rise to double digits, it got pretty darned nippy in there with the glorious large Victorian windows and high ceilings. I’ve gotten up on mornings when the heat is set at 64 to find the main floor stubbornly resisting warmth and staying at a brisk 57 degrees.
More recently, I stayed at a beachside condo experiencing “winter” in Mexico. Now, winter there was only in the 50s but that’s still pretty brisk when the salty wind off the ocean blows up against the drafty windows. But for the month or so that it was that chilly, I didn’t want to invest in a heating solution and I used other strategies to stay cozy.
There are different heating solutions for more extreme situations.
When you rent, it isn’t feasible to insulate or replace the windows and wood stoves with more efficient models. In that situation, you have to work with what you’ve got. So low-tech methods that don’t change the house are ideal.
Using less heat allows you to extend your fuel supply if you have to fill a propane tank or stack firewood. Low-tech methods will let you ration your fuel while still remaining comfortable. Keeping the bills low is important regardless of how you heat.
Low-Tech Ways to Stay Warm
So, in the interest of low-tech solutions, here are a few ways that we keep warmer without plugging in the electric space heaters. These ideas can be used when the grid is working and most can be used to supplement your winter power outage plan so that you use up fewer resources.
- Keep your wrists and ankles covered. Wear shirts with sleeves long enough to keep your wrists covered and long socks that keep your ankles covered. You lose a great deal of heat from those two areas.
- Wear fingerless gloves. You’ll look very 80s, but if you wear cozy knit fingerless gloves, you’ll be able to still use your hands for the computer or for needlework while staying much warmer. You can splurge on nice ones like these or you can grab those inexpensive $1 stretchy ones from the dollar store and cut off the fingertips.
- Get some long-johns. Wearing long underwear beneath your jeans or PJ’s will work like insulation to keep your body heat in. I like the silky kind sold by discount stores like Wal-mart for indoor use, rather than the sturdier outdoor type sold by ski shops. The more you layer, the warmer you’ll be. You can also put leggings under your jeans and long-sleeved t-shirts under your other tops.
- Wear slippers. You want to select house shoes with a solid bottom rather than the slipper sock type. This forms a barrier between your feet and the cold floor. We keep a basket of inexpensive slippers in varying sizes by the door for visitors because it makes such a big difference. Going around in your stocking feet on a cold floor is a certain way to be chilled right through.
- Get up and get moving. It goes without saying that physical activity will increase your body temperature. If you’re cold, get up and clean something, dance with your kids, play tug-of-war with the dog, or do a chore. I like to bundle up and go outside for a brisk walk to get my blood pumping.
- Pile on the blankets. If you’re going to be sitting down, have some layered blankets available. Our reading area has polar fleece blankets which we top with fluffy comforters for a cozy place to relax.
- Use a hot water bottle. If you’re just sitting around try placing a hot water bottle (carefully wrapped to avoid burns) under the blankets with you.
- Use rice bags. If you don’t have the ready-made ones, you can simply place dry rice in a clean sock. Heat this in the microwave, if you use one, for about a minute, or place in a 100-degree oven – watching carefully – for the love of cats don’t set your house on fire – for about 10 minutes. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, keep some rice bags in a large ceramic crock beside the unit so they are constantly warm. You can put your feet on them or tuck them under the blankets on your lap.
- Insulate using items you have. Line the interior walls with bookcases or hanging decorative quilts and blankets on the walls to add an extra layer of insulation. It definitely makes a difference because it keeps heat in and cold air out. If you look at pictures of old castles you will see lovely tapestry wall-hangings – this was to help insulate the stone walls, which absorbed the cold and released it into the space.
- Layer your windows. Our cabin had large lovely picture windows for enjoying the view. However, they were single pane and it’s hard to enjoy the view if your teeth are chattering. We took the rather drastic step of basically closing off all the windows but one in each room for the winter. We insulated by placing draft blockers at the bottom in the window sill (I just used rolled up polar fleece – I’m not much of a sew-er.) This was topped by a heavy blanket, taking care to overlap the wall and window edges with it. Over that, we hung thermal curtains that remain closed. Another option is to pick up that plastic that you apply to your windows using a hairdryer. You can also spray the window with water and apply bubble wrap if you don’t have another way to layer it.
- Wear a hat. A lot of heat escapes out the top of your head, so keep it cozy with a knitted hat. (We used to call them stocking caps but I think the kids call them beanies now.)
- Get a rug. If you have hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring, an area rug is a must. Like the blankets on the walls, this is another layer of insulation between you and the great outdoors. If you have no basement, your floor will be particularly chilly. A rug in the living room protects your (slippered) tootsies from the chill.
- Wear a scarf. No, not like a big heavy wool scarf that you’d wear outdoors – just a small, lightweight one that won’t get in your way and annoy you. This serves two purposes. First, it covers a bit more exposed skin. Secondly, it keeps body heat from escaping out the neck of your shirt.
- Drink hot beverages. A warm beverage like coffee, tea, or cocoa will help warm you up from the inside out. Invest in some travel mugs with lids to keep your drink warm for longer. Also, warm up your mug with hot water while you’re waiting for your coffee, cocoa, or tea to brew.
- Burn candles. Especially in a smaller space, a burning candle can raise the temperature a couple of degrees.
- Cuddle. Share your body heat under the blankets when you’re watching movies or reading a book.
- Close off one room. What is the warmest room in your house? Maybe it’s the one with the heat source or maybe it’s tucked into a more protected area of the home. Close it off using curtains and tension rods in the doorways for a toasty-warm retreat.
- Hang out together. Even if you aren’t cuddling under blankets, if everyone is in the same (closed off) room, your combined body heat will raise the temperature a few degrees.
- Bake something. Bake a dessert or roast a chicken to add some heat to your home. (Bonus – you get a delicious home-cooked hot meal out of the deal.)
- Get everyone an electric blanket. This isn’t totally low-tech, but an electric blanket uses far less power than turning up the heat for your entire house. We keep our thermostat set quite low and use electric blankets instead. Newer ones have an automatic shut-off for less risk of fire or burns and they’re very energy efficient.
How do you keep your house warm without turning up the heat?
Every fall, I spend time cozying up my house so that I can use less heat when the weather gets cold.
What do you do to stay warmer at your house during the winter? Share your cozy ideas in the comments section!
64 thoughts on “How to Stay Warm with Less Heat”
Some really great ideas there-I’ll be trying the candle soon enough! I too will bake something to naturally raise the temp. 2 more tips I use are Hoodie sweatshirts, they’ve got the handy hand-warmer pouch often included, and I’ll double-layer socks. I’ll use regular tube socks and then wear my thermal skiing-socks, or slipper socks over the tube socks. I’m a really big fan of yours thanks Daisy!
Thank you for the tips. I love hoodies and have been known to sit around indoors with the hood up on a chilly day 🙂
Look for drafty areas. We had paneling that seem to let air in between the mailed paneling. I put duct tape on it during the winter. Yes it sealed out draft.
That’s a great idea!
For those trying to pinpoint a draft, go to the suspected area with a tealight candle on a saucer. Use the movement of the flame to help you discover where the air is getting in.
I enjoy very much your writing and this is my favourite topic. Congrats on your new website, it will be a massive hit.
Thank you so much!
I save those long punk lighters from fireworks stands in July, the smoke is terrific for locating the smallest air leak, and less risk of an exposed flame.
I really appreciate your trying to help others in this day and age. I have no intention of denigrating your help to them.
I April I will hit the 70 mark. However, I look at what you have posted and am reminded of my upbringing in WV. Some houses only had a central coal fired fireplace or one central gas stove. It was a race to get to the heat so you could back up to it and get your tush warmed up. I don’t regret my upbringing in any way, shape or form. In bed i was thick feather-tick mattresses and plenty of hand made quilts. You didn’t realize how cold it was until you got out of bed.
Considering that, I chuckle to myself and wonder how the folks of today would react to that same situation.
Thank you for sharing your experiences 🙂 You’re right- we are pretty spoiled but with small steps and people sharing memories like yours we will become more resilient.
I loved staying with a great aunt in rural Alabama. Me and my cousins slept in a really old and worn feather bed, whoever was in the middle sunk into the mattress and got dog-piled by the others! She had to teach us how to use a hot water bottle and a chamber pot. She had a coal heater in her living room.
73 here. It was 29° last night and today till around noon. Warned up just a little this afternoon. Opened curtains on. Side toward sun. Helped a bit. Closed before sun was off that side. We heat with a gravity fed pellet stove. Lit a fire around dark. Set a teakettle on the heat collector. Cooked a simple dinner on the propane stove. Heated 2 metal cups and made tea. Both wearing long sleved shirts and Laps covered with fluffy throws. Sipping hot tea.
2 hours before bedtime i’ll light the propane heater to take off the chill. Dress for bed in long underwear pants and long skeved knit shirts. Cover with pIenty of covers. You’ll soon warm up the bed.
Daylight brings breakfast, and time to feed chickens, ducks and rabbits. Then work on whatever projects are important at the time. By mid afternoon its cooling off more do time to cook a warm meal. Close the drapes and soon light a fire. Days are shortening and temperatures are dropping. A lityle fridge set by the door is cold , almost freezing outside on the porch. Mayve well have the array repaired or up dated by spring. No power for the past 10 months. Solar chargers chargers keep lanterns and phone going. I also have oil lamps. A small array with an inverter keeps tv usable a while each evening.
Simple life lived with the seasons.
When you mentioned a pellet stove, I thought of my cousin Lew. He lived out in the country during the last few years of his life. One winter he got a pellet stove for his den. He found out that when the wood pellets were too expensive, you could use corn pellets — it was already off the cob, like chicken feed from the feed store — in the stove. The corn really heated up, he said. Just thought I’d pass that along in case others had pellet stoves. Stay safe and stay warm, everyone!
We raised our kids (all currently in their 40’s) while living in a house (30+ years) built in the early 1900’s. The only source of heat was a floor furnace, fairly centralized between the living room and dining room. We have used every one of your suggestions, and they do help. One more…flannel sheets. While we all live in centrally heated and air conditioned houses now, I still use many of the suggestions, mostly because I’m cheap, Excuse me…FRUGAL. My kids have always said that the floor furnace brought the family together with everyone crowding around on a cold morning.
Fleece blanket with a kitty on your lap. If your fingers get cold place on kitty’s belly. Sleep in a sleeping bag.
I will currently have to substitute the kitty for a dog. Equally effective though 🙂
We have a nice house, really too big for us now but well built and insulated and in a great spot in Vermont. We went thru and insulated more now have 78-R in the ceiling, our house has a SSW side with a picture window that gets very nice e passive solar in the winter, have a woodstove in the basement that warms the tile floors, and put a chimney balloon in the unused liv rm fireplace to avoid heat loss. On the north side of the house, our sliding glass door is insulated with a heavy cotton drop cloth hung with clip rings, and they slightly cascade the floor to avoid heat loss and drafts there. I covered the screen door with heavy plastic and waxed the glide to keep it easy to open slightly to go on deck or let dog out. honeycomb blinds, pull downs and thermal drapes adorn all windows, and we have 20 200watt solar panels for electric needs which will pay for themselves within 6-7 years, then the electric is free save for a $15-$20 grid hook up admin fee a month. We have board games and oil lamps plus emergency radio and walky talkies with a good range if needed, and always a back up supply of radios. We have plenty of solar charged walkway lights we can pull if needed, and have used the woodstove for cooking when we had to. We have used the woodstove as primary heat source in the past, but less now that we are older. Plenty of blankets available including some wool army blankets heirloom quilts, wool and down undergarments, bedding, coats etc as mentioned earlier. We have thermostat with timer for regulating heat, cool at night, warmer in am when we get up, adjusts to our lifestyle. We have a ceramic heater in our most used room, that is small enough to roll into my “office” if I need to work and allows us to keep heat lower throughout the house. A walk or two during the day makes the house feel warm upon reentry. Looking into heat pump technology for both heat and hot water options. Always looking for ways to economize.
Correction: back up supply of batteries.
I find Curry recipes are good at self-generation of warmth. You don’t have to get crazy with the really hot/pepper style just some regular curry meals. I picked up a really great recipe for Quick Shrimp Curry from Taste of Home’s Sharon Tipton.
This is a really good one I didn’t think of! Spicy foods in general can help but there’s nothing like a nice curry with rice to make you toasty from the inside out.
What works here: long underwear, depending on the temperature, there’s the man-made stretchy fabric that fits close to your bod and wool. Layer until you feel warm.
Am in the process of switching to 100% merino wool base layer then layering with other items. Can keep the thermostat at 69 degrees & still manage w/o wearing gloves.
Gloves: get the ones made for use with hand-held devices – works well for desktop, too, on days you’re sick or the electricity is off.
To sleep: sleeping bags–sized for couples or singles. Years ago I stopped using electric blankets; if the power goes off here in the country it can get down to freezing indoors: we have single-pane windows & our home is older now.
When electricity is off, we’ll wear hats but usually I don’t, indoors. Depends.
Merino wool is the best! Had sensitivity to wool products in the past , solved with the merino..can’t go wrong. Cost a little more, but considering the benefits, negates the expense.
I used to have electric blankets but they were expensive, didn’t last for many years, and the way the bedroom is arranged, it was a danger that I’d trip on the electric cords. I sent off for an inexpensive comforter, which was on sale and really cheap, from JC Penney’s, a store I hardly ever buy from. It came out of the package pretty flat but said to put in the clothes dryer. I did, and it fluffed up really thick. I use it and my body heat keeps me toasty warm, even warmer than when I put the electric blanket on high. I donated the electric blanket, don’t need it any more. If it gets super cold, I layer other quilts, blankets, comforters and bedspreads on top of the comforter. Yesterday it sleeted and last night got down to the 20s but I just used the one Penney’s comforter and was plenty warm. (Although we didn’t turn down the heat very much and used the ceiling fan on its winter setting….)
Yes, Depends work too. I’m joking, I wouldn’t recommend diapers just as cold weather wear, but it’s true that anything that has a plastic layer will trap body heat.
My little home 810 sq ft. I warm by keeping an upside down 12 inch flower pot on my gas stove, on low flame. There is no heater or insulation in my home, built in the 30’s. Keeping a small fan aimed at the ceiling to bring the heat down where we are. I close off the rooms that are not needed during the cold season, and wear fleece hat and warm gloves, and wool socks to sleep. Also learned while living in Alaska that if you have an extra sheet, spread it over the top of your blanket to keep in your body heat.
Great idea with the flower pot!
people die every winter trying to heat their home with their gas stove; don’t do that. a pot won’t contain the toxic gases given off by burning gas.
putting a sheet over the blanket does work to retain more heat.
Learned this trick from my husbands grandmother. She used a blanket on the mattress instead of a sheet, top and bottom. Instant warmth as soon as you got into bed. Snug as a bug in that old farmhouse.
I got a space heater for my bedroom so I don’t have to heat the whole house at night beyond just preventing the pipes from freezing.. I got one of those nylar space blankets from survival supplies and put it under mattress covers–makes it much easier to warm the bed and reduce the setting on the space heater.
My daughter suggested one you did not mention. She told me to go outside where it was really cold. When I came in, somehow the house was a lot warmer!
The mylar blankets are great. We have some we used for camping, and will certainly keep this in mind.
For the last 20 years since moving to Michigan i have worn tights under every thing in the winter. You can even find fleece lined tights! I think it was Joe Nameth who has a commercial for wearing tights or panty hose to stay warm!
Yes, Linda, I remember Broadway Joe Namath’s pantyhose commercial. It was very famous in the 1960’s when he was still the N.Y. Jets’ quarterback. They even spoofed it on the Carol Burnett show, with Harvey Korman playing Broadway Joe. It was hysterical! Thanks for the fun memory!
We have a direct vent propane heater, set on 64 usually. Has a fouble timer, comes on @ 6am, off @11, on @ 6pm off@10. Beyond this we have a small wood stove, sart a fire when I get up and feed it once, then let it coast til late sftrrnoon whrn I fire it up but don’t feed it again. Last winter we burned maybe 1 cord of wood in northern VT. Lots of throws on the sofa, and I live in microfiber tights under blue jeans with a tee shirt under flannel button down. Hot water bottle (in fleece or knitted cover) which warms the foot of the bed. Thanx for all the great ideas, everyone!
I grew up in Northern Vermont where temps could drop to -40. Our first house had a coal furnace with one grate in the living room and a combination gas/kerosene stove in the kitchen. My mother covered the windows and doors with heavy drapes, we used a hot water bottle in our beds and wore footed pJs which I hated. Today the house we live in is an all electric house but has thick walls and extra insulation. We close off the rooms we don’t use and basically use the kitchen , family room and bedroom. My husband loves his heated mattress pad turned up to 8. We invested in a 75 panel solar system when we moved in . It was an investment but at the time there were grants and tax incentives. It provides all our electric needs for heat, cooking , lights and drying clothes. We pay $50 a month for 10 months and sell back enough electricity to get 2 months free. The $50 we pay each month is for the meter fee and the natural gas for the hot water heater. We install the system in 2015 and it will have paid for itself by 2022. Even with that we are careful and of our electric use.
Wool is warm when wet. Synthetics are NOT. I use merino under both pants and shirts. Pure merino garments do NOT ever get smelly. They do not absorb odours such as body odour, smoke odour, etc. Hand wash and air dry ALL woollens. Wool socks up to mid calf, over the merino underlayer, and then another larger pair over the fleece lined tights, or fleece sweatpants. I use ONLY woollen sweaters, usually two or three layers, and a down coat over, or a windproof lined coat. Always a toque or hat. I have used a mattress warmer before getting INTO bed. Sleeping with the electricity running disturbs the sleep. If I have to get up in the middle of the night I turn it on until I get back. A down comforter with a double sided duvet cover of flannelette on one side and a blanket on the other, bigger than the correct bed size so there is lots of cover to wrap up in. Flannel nightdress or Pajamas and socks of course. People allergic to wool can usually wear it if there is silk or cotton next to their skin with the wool overtop. We turn down the thermostat to 55 at night, and start the electric heater only at 6:00 am for an hour before we get up. Makes a huge difference. Then we heat to 65 during the day and turn down an hour or two before bedtime.
Another great article. I’ve have heated with wood stoves and/or kerosene “space heaters” most of my 80 years. Older homes (built before WWII) had smallish rooms and lots of doors. Newer homes are wide and expansive with few doors (of course curtains and blankets can be substituted for wooden doors if necessary). With old houses, the wood stove was in the center of the house. Get up in the morning and it’s cold. Close all the doors and start the fire. As the room warms, or as that section of the house warms, open the doors. Open progressively — open, open, open. As the house cools, close the doors (starting with the rooms farthest away from the heat). So it’s open, open, open. Close close, close. Open, open, open. It’s a primitive heat circulation technique from the days before electricity or electric fans . . . used around the world for eons. It works.
Here in the South, a lot of the older homes have “Dearborn heaters.” Dearborn is the main manufacturer, although other companies may also make them. These are space heaters powered by natural gas which is piped into homes in the cities and towns. Dearborns are usually made of metal but some older offbrands were “clayback heaters,” which had some kind of brick-like material behind the heating part. They all had ceramic parts where the gas-powered flames would burn and these would give off heat. It was wonderful to stand in front of them and warm up in the mornings! But since they had open flames, you had to be very, very careful lest you set your clothes on fire, particularly “granny gowns” (nightgowns) and long flowing housecoats or robes.
I have arthritis. A few years ago I read about sleeping in a sleeping bag for people with arthritis. Works great. Keeps me warm and cozy.
Also I found hooded blanket sweatshirts on one of the home shopping channels. Like wearing a blanket but you have mobility. I recommend both the sleeping bag and sweatshirt if you have arthritis.
I love your website and enjoy all your tips.
There’s a discussion of indoor footwear that’s needed — especially in this era where the real estate fashion is for hard cold floors without carpeting. It’s easier to clean but harder for keeping your feet warm. The concept of wool fleece-lined UGG pull-on boots makes a lot of sense but I was never too sure whether UGG was just a brand name or an expression of disgust at the high price (around $170 on Amazon).
SportsmansGuide has a really competitive entry in that market for between $45 and $50. After trying out a couple of cheap Chinese knockoffs that each disintegrated within the first year or so, I found these wool blend fleece lined boots to be very durable and cozy — now going on 6-7 years or so.
Guide Gear Men’s 10″ Suede Boot Slippers
Item # WX2-77189
In combination with some long wool or wool-blend socks, you can get along with even sub-freezing floors.
Bob Wells (of CheapRVliving on YouTube) even heartily endorses this concept for his nomadic lifestyle.
And yes, SportsmansGuide has a female equivalent fleece-lined boot as well.
I’ve worked from home for 20 years! My office is in the basement which drops to the low 60’s in the winter when the upstairs is comfortable. Besides a warmer wardrobe similar to what you suggest, I have a 60W light bulb covered by a large terra cotta pot under my desk on which I rest my feet while working. It takes a while to heat the pot, but it eventually gets downright toasty for my toes! The second trick is I have a 150W infrared bulb, like what is used for a reptile cage, hanging just above my work area. This raises the temperature of my desktop and keyboard to about 72 and feels wonderful.
I enjoy reading your thoughts.
When I lived in Florida, sometimes we’d have freezes. Nothing like Vermont, of course, but we were still cold. My pastor kept all her incandescent light bulbs and when it got cold, she’d put them in the lamps and light fixtures. Incandescents give off heat and it would help warm the small rooms in her condo. Just be sure not to overload any given socket, ie, put a 100 watt bulb where the label says to not exceed, say, 75 watts, etc. I use this tip as well and it helps; then when the weather warms up again, I go back to my CFLs and LEDs to save electricity.
My little apartment has very little insulation and is half buried in the ground, it is now winter in Montana and a slow cooker with soup or a stew really warms the kitchen a few degrees warmer and the warm food is yummy.
Our farmhouse is >100 yrs old in the old part and drafty. We close off the coldest rooms for the winter. I LIVE inside a sleeping bag when sitting down-awesome!! Stock up them if you find some at Goodwill or yardsales. I keep one in the car in winter in case I would get stuck somewhere, along w other survival stuff.
Our electricity went out last yr in 20 degree weather after a high wind storm took out some of the wires. Even though we had cattle, it took over 24h for some major repairs. We used candles and left the gas stove elements on overnight; slept under some of the above mentioned sleeping bags and wore a LOT of flannel/fleece, sox/hard sole slippers, etc. Could prob handle several days that way but sure hope not to have to—we are > 65yr old. House is routinely set at 65 so used to cooler house/extra layers of clothes which helps the mindset adjustment. Our kids cannot live in less than 72 degrees as they run around in shorts, bare feet and tshirts in their city houses… keep warning them to adjust down before things go bad but—oh well, they will remember quick enough our warnings at that time.
Just a small comment. We use a couple of space heaters. One in my office and one at my wife’s computer in the family area. BUT we do NOT use the old style space heaters. These have wires that heat up to a high temperature, glow bright red, and will ignite any paper, cloth or other flammables that touch them. The guards are not good protection. Instead we buy ceramic heaters. You can’t see any wires. The grill gets hot but the maximum temperature they reach is below the ignition temperature of paper. Many companies sell ceramic heaters. They were originally developed by a Canadian company, PELONIS I think, for use in airplanes where they worry about fires a lot. final note. No matter what they say about the size of the room a 110-120 volt plug in heater maxes out at 1500 watts and they all produce similar amounts of heat.
I’m 75 and remember my father getting up early in the morning to shovel coal into the furnace. The house was still cold, so I sat by the register (a fancy grate in the wall where the heat came out) to get dressed for school. One thing we never had was a humidifier. It’s something I wouldn’t do without these days. Heat draws moisture from your skin, causing you to feel chilly and your skin to feel itchy as it evaporates. I also dry laundry on a rack overnight (it dries fast in a heated apartment) and make sure my plants stay watered as they also give off moisture. I’ve just discovered your website, and I love it. Many thanks.
in college i lived in a dorm built in the 1920’s. it had steam radiators, which dried out the air something fierce, and very high ceilings. after our shower we would drape our wet towel over the radiator, which provided humidity and dried the towel in record time! now i run a steam vaporizer 24/7 in the winter. breathing dry air is one reason why people get more viruses in the winter, including covid-19.
I use an electric throw instead of an electric blanket. The electric blanket controllers would not last more than 2 years before they went out.I put the electric throw on me first , then top with 2 plush blankets,add a knit cap and I sleep well throughout the night.
I also live in 2 rooms, stapled a plastic shower curtain over the doors to keep the heat in.I use a space heater,safely, to take the chill off the room.Stapled cheap blankets over the windows and added christmas lights to decorate.
Instead of carpeting , I use the rubber floor squares from Harbor Freight to insulate the floors I stay in.
As I work from home ,I made a cubicle from sheets of foam-to have a quiet space to work from and stay warm/use the electric blanket .
You mentioned castles in your post and the use of tapestries on the walls to keep out the chill. Another technique they used was a bed with curtains. At night, get into bed and close the curtains.
Not only are these beds practical, especially in poorly heated homes in cold climates, but they are also quite beautiful. The curtained bed area can stay toasty warm with just the body heat of the bed’s occupants :).
No electricity 15 months now. Heat with a rocjet heater with gravity fed pellet hopper. I can also burn wood chips from my chipper, corn at $10.50 per 50 lb bag, and dry sticks and twigs. I cook on the heat collector in cool weather. Today was a meatball vegetable soup. 16×56 mobilehome with storm windows. We’ve had zero° nIghts this winter. A thick comforter on bed in an unheated room with sheet and an old fuzzy blanket. Fuzzy throws at chairs in livingroom. A solar charger for my phone and a rechargeable lantern. Hubs,82, lives in sweat pants and shirt. I’m 74 and have thin long underwear under my work jeans and long sleved shirts. Sometimes if its really cold I stay in my already warm clothing. We both wear double socks. He wears warm hard soled slippers. I have them for mornings but I wear leather work boots days so I can feed and water critters and care for a garden in season. No heat in the old car so i carry a warm blanket in the trunk and another one in a shopping bag in the car. Dress for the weather inside or outside. I knit so we have sweaters, hats and shawls.
We have oil lamps, a rechargable electric lamp and flashlights with rechargeable batteries and solar battery charger and a solar phone charger.
When my new solar array if up we will again have a refrigerator. I have but don’t use a microwave or quuck pot. Rice pads in a ceramic bowl by the heater feel good to defrost cold fingers when i first come in from evening feedings. Nice on my neck after a hard days work. I have the gloves made for phone touch screen. On cold days those gloves can be a life saver.
We use draught excluders in front of most doors to keep the heat contained in each room. They are Christmas ones, but one side is plain and the other is festive so we change them around. We also keep our heating on low constantly. This has halved our bills. We have also put foil behind all the radiators so the heat reflects back into the room and not go through the walls.
If you are going to use electric heat, which is very inefficient when it comes to heating, consider crypto mining. All jokes aside, you do get lots of heat and with proper accounting you could even come out ahead financially. At the very least you still get the heat.
Those draft stoppers work well around doors, especially the bottom edge. I use a large, rolled-up beach towel. Definitely dress up! Clothes are paid for. I also cover my patio door with plastic sheeting and thermal drapes. The first year I did that, I noticed how much it cut down on the drafts in that area! Replacing my old single pane + storm windows with modern double-pane vinyl also helped.
When you cook, leave the oven door open after so the heat dissipates out into the room. And by all means, snuggle! That’s good for everyone.
I use passive heat to supplement. I open the curtains and blinds facing east in the morning and then in early afternoon I open the ones facing west to follow the sun. It is amazing how cozy (and bright) the sun makes every thing. I even open the inside door so the heat trapped between the storm doors and the interior doors can spread heat throughout a give area. In the summer I do the reverse. Also I turn my ceiling fan either forward or backward depending on the season so that in cold weather it helps push the heat downwards and in summer it draws the hot air upwards. I always forget which direction to turn the control so have to google it.
We’ve bought blankets. A lot easier to use than electric blankets if you want to move around. Mostly “people size” ones in case you get chilly and want to curl up on the couch and watch something streaming. We also got additional blankets for the beds (king for my wife and I, twin size for the kids, queen for the pull out). Maybe a $200 investment that will probably pay off in reduced heating bills this Biden winter.
It doesn’t normally get super cold in Texas, but we do get snaps of winter weather. Even putting on a light sweater adds a layer of insulation.
While stoves of today don’t throw off the heat like the ones of old, the oven can add warmth during and after.
We replaced most of the windows in this house when we purchased it. The “new” windows in one room were awful (reason why was discovered when we replaced them) so we put up plastic. While nothing is inexpensive these days, insulation in the attic also helps.
The only caution I have with shutting off rooms is to ensure it does not adversely affect nearby pipes.
Shutting off selected register vents on the main floor (or basement if you have them) can help with heating or cooling of the 2nd floor of the house.
Also, check your state’s website as there might be heating grant money available. May not cover your entire bill but every little bit counts.
Buy thick Sweatshirts and Sweatpants and Fleece Wear at the Thrift Stores. Buy U. S. Army surplus Longjohns. Buy Army surplus Wool Blankets. Buy Acrylic Blankets at Garage Sales. Wear thick Flannel and Polyester Fleece Shirts. Wear a Down Vest. Take a hot shower at the end of the day. If you have a Wood Stove, burn Hedge (Osage Orange) Firewood if you can get it. Burn Hardwood instead of Softwood.
You can also take an old pair of socks, cut off the toe area and you have wrist warmers.
We lived in an old travel trailer for 4 years. Most of the wall areas were taken up with furniture and cabinetry, which insulated us somewhat from the cold. But all of the windows were left accessible. If it was sunny outside, we would open the curtains to let the sunlight in to heat up the trailer. Then when the sun went down, we closed the curtains and hung clothes (on hangers) over the curtain rods to insulate the windows at night and to help keep the heat in. If it was a stormy day with no sun, then the clothes stayed up on the windows.
when we grew up our family cut wood for a 2nd income…we were always cold when it was time to go out and cut wood…an old man told us about a trick to get your body temp ‘up’ for the day… get everything ready to go out in the cold and be ready to ‘get on the truck’ ..chainsaws, gas, ax, wedges, chains, extra gloves etc…
then strip to skin from waist up… go outside and walk around for a few minutes and ‘freeze’ then come in and immediately dress in undershirt, shirt, sweater,…etc,,,and immediately go out to work truck…soon after starting to work you will be HOT and find yourself with shirt open and coat off…NOTE: have your shirt and coat ready to put on when you stop moving.
why it works i do not know, it just does
I have used almost all of these suggestions, thank you everyone!
Purchase pup tent , for one person for children ( if single) or 2 man tent
To place on your bed, the area inside the tent warms up and you stay much warmer, you can also sleep in sleeping bag with added blankets and throws are great in between to keep core of body warm. This is especially good for emergency situations. Also preheat bed with water bottle and heat core (abdomen)
I also use a furry style blanket as sheet with flannel top sheet.
Check weather striping in all exit doors, adjust to make good seal. I have added plastic strip to inside of door jam to ensure no air flow streaming in.
I roll up an old towel and place at the bottom of exit doors to keep out cold air.
Oil filled portable heaters are excellent cost saving electric heaters , once the oil heats up it radiates the heat, economical choice to electric baseboards. ( have never turned on in the house)
Use leather sole wool knit slippers that have lamb skin inside, these inserts are also great inside rubber boots.
For thermal Insoles my dad used rubber underlay from carpet cut shape to place in rubber boots, work boots, it works really well as insulator insoles.
Switched out all light bulbs to led lights 4 watts, bright and only use $1.58 a year!
In the morning I heat up the kettle, then fill several thermoses. I have hot water on hand for up to 6 hours, I also cover the kettle with a dish cloth to keep the heated water inside warm longer for refills.
Switch out the curtains if you have the short kind that only come to just below the window sill. When the curtain is closed it reduces cold air somewhat but you will find if you place your hand under the bottom of curtain the cold air falls and there is a lot of cold air coming in. Replace with full length curtains that
“drape” on the floor. I have seen quilted window blinds that roll up and down hugging the window. Insulated to blanket out the cold~ I liked the idea!
I have Mohair throws and blankets, lap quilts and often a cat on my lap!
I place linen curtains up in winter to section off the stairwell, top and bottom.
I leave laundry room and bedroom doors closed. Alternate days to open them for circulation.
Invest in wool socks, vests and sometimes I wear a toque to bed or my hoodie, and socks. Always think of the ancient times they wore night caps to bed. I always have a scarf around my neck, too day and night.
My friend shared a great trick, to heat a water bottle and place in your backpack against your back when going out for the day in cold weather. If our core body is warm and head covered we keep body heat.
I switched to a toaster oven ( leave open and let heat radiate out after use) and never use my kitchen oven, only stove top. I try to cook several meals together, then all I need to do is heat and eat later. Same for oatmeal, make a batch then only add boiling water to heat up, single servings.
Just recently found a couple of oil lamps, for emergency back up light/ Passive heat.
Thanks for ideas, stay well everyone,
Thanks for all of your so useful info in these scary times. I so appreciate it. So as far as bubble wrap is concerned… It really works. My husband and I just downsized and moved into an old victorian in Michigan. (A bucket list thing). We didn’t have a lot of time before cold weather set in, so I started doing research on ways to keep the heat in. We have single pane windows, many of which are original. As I unpacked I kept all the bubble wrap and started covering the windows. It was a lot of cutting, (small window panes), but totally worth it. Lets say I would set the thermostat to 68, but my little hand held thermometer would read 2-3 degrees below that. But I started to notice as I got more windows covered and even though the temp outside was dropping, my readings were getting closer to what was on the thermostat! I was keeping the cold out and warmth in! I’m not done yet, but plan to finish up before the end of the year. And there are so many places/businesses that use bubble wrap and then discard it. Just ask for it. Once you cut the wrap to size, mark it and in the spring store it away for next winter! My next plan is to make some draft snakes with rice or sand for doors and windows! It all really adds up!
Some random thoughts
The suggestion to use duct tape over the cracks in doors and windows can be improved. Duct tape leaves a sticky residue whenever it is removed — which is a mess to clean off. Painter’s masking tape can do the same job but does not leave that sticky residue.
The suggestion to a pick up a thrift store deal on a sleeping bag has one serious downside. When you buy a sleeping bag from a regular retailer it usually has a lowest temperature rating on the packaging — which is usually long gone on a donated thrift store “deal.” So you’re simply guessing on the temperature rating on a thrift store “bargain” — unless it has that rating somewhere on the sleeping bag fabric.
Regardless of whether you know that temperature rating you can always improve on a sleeping bag with a flannel or wool liner — for which you might need to exercise your measuring, cutting, and sewing skills so such a liner will fit inside that bag.
The suggestion to use a mylar sheet under your regular bedsheet needs some caution. Some (not all) mylar sheets make a loud crackling noise whenever you even just barely move against them. One I tried out crackled so loudly as I breathed in and out that it kept me from going to sleep. The lesson is to test one before having to rely on it.
Thanks Daisy for all of those great ideas. I have an extra one that might help others. Throughout the year when I go to the thrift stores, I look for down comforters and down coats. The comforters cost between $12 & $15 each. The down coats cost between $15 and $30. When it gets really cold I go to bed wearing a down coat, that is equivalent to a down sleeping bag. That plus 2 down comforters and I’m all set. I give my extra down coats as gifts and the recipients are ecstatic that they’re getting coats worth $120-$160 each. I also give coats to relatives with young children so they can keep them in their vehicles if in case they are caught in bad storms and have to turn their vehicle heaters off. Merry Christmas to everyone and be blessed!
What a wonderful idea!
I made a canopy bed with curtains made from movers blankets from Harbor Freight.The frame is made from pieces of a futon that I cut and screwed together. I took foam Insulation panels and put them on the top to insulate.