Sometimes, when I get to late January, it seems like warm weather will never come. I’m perpetually chilled, and my drafty old house doesn’t help matters much. If I turn up the thermostat, I feel guilty about the energy I’m using.
But staying cozy and warm doesn’t have to mean cranking up the heat. There are other ways to keep comfortable, most of which require little to no energy or other resources. Here are a few options.
- Invest in an efficient space heater. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests keeping your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and lowering it when you leave the house or when you’re sleeping. If you spend most of your time in just one room, such as in your home office during the day or in the living room in the evenings, you might want to consider turning down the heat even more, and letting a portable, energy-efficient space heater warm you up instead. These electric heaters can be more energy-efficient than a furnace, so they’re a good option if you need to keep only one room warm. Just make sure to use them safely.
- Fix yourself a hot drink. Sometimes all you need to take off the chill is a steaming mug of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or whatever your drink of choice. I got an electric water kettle this winter (although, a kettle on a gas stove is apparently a more energy efficient way to boil water) and amassed a stash of herbal teas. Sipping a hot mug of tea immediately makes me feel warmer.
- Add a layer. This tip isn’t news to anyone, but I’d be remiss in including it since it’s the absolute easiest way to warm up. If you don’t like the constricting feeling of a sweater, at least keep your feet and neck warm. Put on a pair of warm socks or slippers, or wear a scarf. I’ve bought some woven-cotton infinity scarves that I will drape around my neck. They are soft and lightweight, so I don’t even notice them, but they are just enough of a layer to keep my throat and the back of my neck warm. Invest in a long-sleeved thermal shirt to wear on its own around the house, or under another shirt or sweater.
- Get moving. Get your blood pumping and your body temperature will rise. It could be as simple as bustling around the house tidying up or doing chores, or you could put on a workout DVD or simply do some jumping jacks. Move around until your body feels comfortably warm, but don’t break a sweat — then you’ll feel even more chilled as the sweat cools on your skin!
- Block drafts. On very cold nights in my 90-year-old house, I can feel cold air breezing by my feet when I walk past the door. A rolled-up towel at the base of each door does an amazing job at blocking this cold air from coming in, and it prevents the warm air from seeping out. Check windows, fireplace flues, doorways, and other access points and block them with caulk or foam insulation. If your house is very drafty, you might want to take an afternoon to extensively seek out and seal all drafts — there are DIY instructions for sealing drafts online.
- Bake or cook. On really cold days, plan to make something in the oven, whether it’s baking a cake or roasting a chicken. Turning the oven on will have a twofold purpose: cooking your food, and warming your kitchen. After you’re done with the oven, turn it off and let the door stand slightly ajar so that the hot air can warm up your kitchen. Just make sure that animals and children won’t be near it.