Whether your furnace is broken or you’re just looking to save a buck, you might be surprised at how well you can get along without heat. Here are some simple and inexpensive ways to make cold days and nights more comfortable without touching the thermostat.
Wear layers: I’m not just talking about wearing a long-sleeved shirt under your sweater. I’m talking about wearing a tank top under your long-sleeved shirt, a short-sleeved shirt over your long-sleeved shirt, a sweater over that and a robe or giant sweatshirt over your sweater. I’m talking about wearing tights, then long underwear, then legwarmers, then pants. I’m talking about two pairs of socks followed by thick slippers. And don’t forget to wear a hat and a scarf, even indoors.
Create temporary relief stations: I find a cold bathroom particularly unbearable. Also, my bathrooms are the smallest areas of my house. Putting a space heater in the bathroom thus provides me with moments of temporary warmth throughout the day, making the overall cold more bearable, and allows me to create an entire warm “room” in just a few minutes and at minimal cost. I also keep a space heater next to my bed that I turn on just for a few minutes, until my body heat has sufficiently warmed up the sheets. Space heaters will really escalate your electricity bill, though, so it’s best to use them sparingly.
Snuggle with your pets: If you’re cold, chances are your pets are, too, and they’ll be all too happy to sit on your lap for hours.
Stay active: Now is the time to do all those projects around the house that you’ve been putting off. You’d be surprised how much warmer you can feel from a simple task like cleaning out the closet. Keep your body moving and you’ll stay comfortable. Even going for a quick 20-minute walk outside in the cold can warm you up and keep you that way for 30 minutes or an hour afterwards. As long as you dress appropriately, only the first 5 minutes or so of your walk will be really cold. After that, you’ll be comfortable (and you will have gotten some exercise, too).
Consume a steady stream of hot foods and beverages: Now is not the time to have a salad and a Diet Coke for lunch. Soups and stews are the way to go. In between meals, sip on hot coffee and tea to stay warm, and for dessert, have hot chocolate, a chai latte, or some bread pudding. Keep in mind that all this consumption of hot things doesn’t have to result in weight gain or a jittery caffeine buzz. Herbal teas are caffeine free, calorie free, and very inexpensive, and many soups are low in fat and high in vegetables, making them comparable to salads in terms of healthfulness.
Cook from scratch. Using the oven and/or stove for long periods of time can create a nice, toasty kitchen that will keep you warm the entire time you’re cooking (and for a while afterwards).
Don’t be still without a blanket: Whether you’re eating dinner or watching TV, keep a blanket on your lap for warmth when you’re not moving around. At night, dress both yourself and your bed in layers. Sleep under three, five, or seven blankets if you have to — whatever it takes to stay warm. And don’t forget a comfortable hat to keep your head warm while you sleep.
Get out of the house: Go to a friend’s or relative’s house, the library, a coffee shop, or any other place that’s inexpensive, will allow you to linger, and will be heated. If your car has heat, you can even use the drive to warm up. You probably won’t notice the difference in your gas mileage.
Use a hairdryer: Having wet hair is a great way to make the cold weather feel even colder, so dry your hair completely after taking a shower. If you don’t have any space heaters or other source of heat, you can even blast yourself with a hairdryer a few times during the day to temporarily warm up.
Sit in front of a sunny window: If you’re lucky enough to have sun on a cold day, find the sunniest window in your house and sit in front of it until you get warm.
Take a hot shower: As long as you have the aforementioned hairdryer, the hot water combined with a steam-filled bathroom can warm you up both while you’re in the shower and for a whilte afterwards. (Taking a hot bath won’t have the same effect, as your head will be freezing cold the whole time, the water will quickly cool off and the bathroom won’t get steamy.)
While going without heat is unpleasant for many of us, there are ways to make it more bearable that are simple and inexpensive enough for anyone to implement. Try some of these tips and you’re sure to save money this winter without freezing.