I don’t know if it’s a trend across the board, but the weather has suddenly turned very cold here this weekend. One day, highs were in the 70s, and the next day, they were in the 30s!! That’s Texas for ya! We are all under the weather here at our house, so we’ve been staying in, trying to keep warm. I did turn up the heat a little while ago, because it somehow had gotten set to 65! It was FREEZING in here. But I didn’t turn it up too high, because we are trying to save money and the heater uses a lot of energy and costs a lot to run. 65 degrees is a bit unreasonable though! Brrrrrrr!!
You can keep from freezing to death AND save money on your electric bill. There are actually quite a few ways to get and stay warm without having to turn your heat way up. Even though they are easy, no-brainer solutions, they often aren’t the first things we think to do. We usually go straight for the thermostat. But let me issue you a challenge: try these things first, and see if you even need to turn up the temperature. Chances are, you won’t!
Put on more clothes
OK, so I did say that some of these are no-brainers, and this is perhaps the most obvious. Seriously though, I’ve known people who sit around the house in shorts and a t-shirt and have to turn up the heat because they are cold! Duh! When it is really cold, we layer up. There were a few days earlier in the winter that it was so cold, I broke out my Cuddl Duds. And then I also put on sweat pants, a long sleeved shirt, and a fleece. That’s pretty rare for us in Texas, but all those clothes made me warm and kept me from having to turn the heat up! One day, my son put on 6 shirts!!! That was seriously overkill in my opinion, but he felt good in them, and stayed nice and toasty. We all have warmer pajamas that we wear when the temps drop, and in the early morning or late evening, we wear nice warm robes as well. I do think it’s ridiculous to keep the thermostat low enough to have to wear a coat inside, but if you need to save money on your electric bill, that would be an option!
Keep your feet warm
If your feet are cold, the rest of you will likely be cold too. One of the easiest and best things you can do to stay warm is put on some fuzzy socks and wear some warm house shoes inside when it’s cold outside. Yesterday, my son put on TWO pairs of socks because his feet were cold. And guess what? It helped the rest of him warm up too. I don’t wear socks to bed normally, but in the winter when it’s cold, I wear them every night. Keeping my feet warm helps to keep my body temperature regulated.
Eat or drink something hot
What you put on the inside of your body can either cool or warm you. I can drink an iced beverage and suddenly I am super cold. So, when I want to be warm, drinking cold drinks and eating ice cream isn’t the best idea. But drinking hot coffee or tea, cocoa, or something else warm can warm up your body, and eating hot soups, chili, and other hot foods can also make you feel nice and warm. Eating itself can warm up your body, because activating your metabolism produces energy which, in turn, produces heat, even if it’s just a little bit.
This goes right along with eating and drinking! Cooking can help get you warm in several ways. First, you are up and active, and getting your blood pumping. Second, you are standing near or over a stove or oven which will help make you warmer. And third, just having the stove or oven on can help heat your house. I can be freezing, with several layers of clothes on, but once I get into the kitchen and start cooking, I always warm up enough to shed at least some of those layers. When the temps drop outside, you should do some freezer cooking! That will keep you in the kitchen for awhile, and you can get warm while you crank out meals for a month! Win-win!
Getting up and getting moving is definitely a great way to warm up. Of course, calisthenics and aerobics will definitely get your heart rate up and get your blood warm. But even simple exercises like walking the house, toe touches, arm circles, or leg lifts can warm you up. If you have a mini trampoline, jumping on that for a bit is a great way to warm up, and it’s (incidentally) one of the best ways to get your lymphatic system flowing too!
Build a fire
If you have a fireplace or heating stove, get it going! So many houses have fireplaces that are seldom or never used, but building a fire is a great way to warm up. Firewood can be pricey if you buy it at the store, but often you can scrounge for wood on the sides of the road or contact a tree trimming company to get it free or at a discount. There are always people around our neighborhood that are trimming their trees or even cutting them down, and we have found so much free wood at the curb! A nice hot fire inside can warm you to your bones when it is cold outside. And sometimes just sitting and watching a fire can give you warm feelings inside.
Take a hot bath or shower
You can really warm yourself up by jumping in a hot shower, or relaxing in a hot bath. The heat of the water really affects your body temperature and can make a huge difference in how warm you feel. Try it! You’ll feel warmer for a good while after you get out too! It’s crazy how cold I’ll be before I get into a hot shower, and how much warmer I will feel after I get out. Also, we invested in a towel warmer years ago, primarily to keep our towels from mildewing and smelling yucky in a tiny bathroom that doesn’t vent well. But let me tell you how glorious it is to grab a nice warm towel from that rack after a shower or bath! It makes getting out of the nice warm water more bearable!
Use a space heater
You can usually get a space heater for a pretty reasonable price these days, and they definitely cost less to run than a central unit. When you have a room or an area that is really cold, or if you don’t have a heater installed in your bathroom ceiling like we do, a space heater might be just what you need for those places.
Blankets are your friend
If you have already donned several layers of clothing and find that you are still chilly, break out the blankets! We keep several throw blankets out during the winter so that we can cover up when necessary. Sometimes we need more than one! Throw blankets are pretty inexpensive, and can be used for decor as well, so they serve more than one purpose! I have friends who live in their Snuggies, and some that use the electric heated throws. Those are nice too, but a plain throw blanket works just fine for us. At night, when you are sleeping, be sure to have several blankets on your bed so you can layer as needed. We used to have an electric blanket on our bed, but we sold it and have just been using a plain cotton blanket and a quilt. I remember reading about Laura Ingalls in the Little House books, and how it was so cold they would wake up in the morning to ice in their water bucket; and how the snow fell through holes in their roof and covered them while they were sleeping–but they were able to stay warm under all their heavy quilts and blankets.
This one’s my favorite! Two or more people can generate more heat together than just one person by him- or herself. So when you’re cold, get with your loved ones and snuggle under those blankets! You’ll find that you will get warmer faster, and it’s fun too! My son and my husband are both hot-natured, and they can seriously create some heat without even trying! When we all snuggle together, we often get too hot! But it’s great when we all need to warm up and beat the chill. My son is my little snuggle buddy. He LOVES to snuggle, and he keeps me warm too!
Staying warm in the winter doesn’t have to cost a fortune! And it doesn’t have to be difficult, either! Try one or all of these things! You may find that you can even turn your thermostat DOWN instead of up!
photo credit: EE Image Database Indoor thermastat, variable refrigerant system, King County Transit North Base, WA via photopin (license)