For those of you counting the days until spring, telling you this is normal weather and we’re really only a little over one month into winter isn’t likely to help. But the following tips might.
So grab a hot drink, warm yourself by the light of the screen on which you’re reading this and perhaps learn a few new, inexpensive, unusual, and common sense ways to kill the chill.
• Wear hats. Outdoors, yes, but indoors, too. Even sleeping in a hat will help keep you warm.
• Wear socks. Feet are one of the primary thermal indicators for the body as well as being a relatively poorly circulated extremity.
• Layers! Layering works by trapping warm air between the layers. So layer your clothes, your blankets, even your windows. Wearing layers works even where you think it might not. Wear fingerless gloves under mittens, or knitted gloves under bulkier ones to keep your hands warm. Layer a scarf around your head under a hood or hat and help your body heat stay in.
• Change your socks. Sweaty socks create cold moisture. Change into clean sweat-free clothes right before bed to ensure a cozier night’s sleep.
• Insert foam liners in boots or hiking shoes for extra insulation for toes.
AROUND THE HOME:
• Hang a blanket over doors to exterior. Cold air comes in all sides, not just the bottom.
• Put area rugs on bare floors. Floors can account for a lot of heat loss. Rugs have the added effect of keeping your feet warm.
• Use sunlight to your advantage. During the day, open your curtains to let the light in and then close them when the sun sets.
• Use cheap clear shower curtains over the windows that receive sunlight. This will keep the cold air out, and the warmth from the sun will heat your house without cold air coming in. You could also cover your windows with clear plastic sheets and make it airtight.
• Use the self-cleaning option on your oven. Oven temperatures can reach over 600°F so don’t use the self-cleaning feature during the summer. Instead, save that task for the colder months so it can work with your home furnace or heater instead of against it.
• Buy yourself a space heater. Use it safely, to heat one room at a time: i.e., the one you’re in.
• Close off unused rooms.
• Shut heating vents in unused rooms.
• If you’re going to be in one room for a long time make sure the door is shut to trap the heat inside.
• Have you thought of insulating power outlets, light switches, cat-flaps, letterbox slots, and keyholes? All of these can cause mini-draughts and they do add up. You may even want to consider insulating your hot water tank with an insulating blanket.
• Close doors immediately when entering or leaving the house. As someone’s parents would yell at her, “We’re not heating the whole outdoors!” (While you’re at it, try to remember you were not born in a barn.)
• Keep the fireplace damper closed when not in use.
• Run your ceiling fans in reverse. In the winter months, you’ll want the blades to be turning counterclockwise to force hot air back down.
• Clear your vents. Make sure they’re open and unblocked by furniture.
• Let the bath water get cool before draining it away. The warmth from the water will help warm the house.
• Hang blankets in front of the staircase to close off the open stairwell going to upper floors. Heat rises and this will keep the warm air downstairs.
• Don’t use kitchen and bathroom fans. The fans may remove odors but they also remove hot air.
• Change furnace/heat pump filter regularly. If they’re not cleaned properly, it forces them to work harder which means, eventually: higher heating bills.
• Use a heating pad with an automatic 30 minute shut-off.
• Light a candle. Candles create heat. (But do remember: heat good, fire bad!)
• If you have radiators you can use tin foil to ~ahem~ “foil” unnecessary heat loss, especially if the rad is attached to an external wall. Simply attach heat-reflective aluminum foil behind the radiator. You can even use kitchen foil.
• Use flannel sheets.
• Use an electric blanket with an automatic shut-off.
• When you go to bed, pull the covers right over your head. Your breathing will warm the small space up rapidly. Your head can then shortly re-emerge from your now-warmed turtle shell.
• Use a blow dryer to quickly spot-heat parts of your body, or shoes or clothes before getting dressed. You can even use it to warm your bed before you turn in. (But never cover a blow dryer. To reiterate, fire bad!)
• Use a hot water bottle. They’re wonderful while sitting to warm hands and lap but also great for putting under the covers prior to bedtime. Add a wool or fleece cover, too, and you’ll soon be talking to it and calling it Wilson.
• Add extra blankets, quilts, or duvets to the bed. Layering is the secret; to the law of heat attraction.
• To warm up before bed (as our bodies typically cool closer to bedtime) take a hot shower or bath. Using lotion when you get out is almost akin to adding another thin layer of clothing.
IN THE KITCHEN:
• Make comfort food, preferably something with a long, slower baking time to warm your kitchen. Better yet, if feasible, make someone else make comfort food.
• Eat nuts. According to a recent article, adding extra healthy fats to your diet will keep you warmer.
• Eat more ginger as it encourages blood circulation.
• Oh, soup for you! Next!
• If you use the oven, keep it cracked after you turn it off so that its heat can be reused inside your house. Your oven is also far more energy efficient in the winter because it works with the warming of your house rather than against the summer cooling of your house.
• Crockpot slow cooker recipes are great for making warm, nutritious meals.
• For a lovely fragrant warmth, simmer water and cinnamon, cloves, and oranges in a pot on the stove.
• Dylan Winter made his very own heater using tea lights inside a bread tin, covered by two ceramic flowerpots. Check it out here.
• Microwave socks or small homemade “pillows” (also known as heat packs) filled with rice, dried corn, or beans for one minute in the microwave and use as a heating pad or bed-warmer.
• Get some funky wool, needles and start knitting. Knit a throw, a scarf, or even a hat. Or knit a few blankets to donate to a shelter or similar organization that helps the homeless and destitute. Why not join one of WPL’s Knitting/Looming Clubs, hosted by LeeLee Hats?
• Hang out with really talkative friends. The more hot air, the better.
• Keeping active will help with your circulation and keep you warmer.
• Use your laptop *on* your laptop. Horrible in summer but rather cozy in winter.
• Listen to Sly and the Family Stone’s Hot Fun in the Summertime.
SOME TIPS FOR THOSE FOLKS WORKING OUTSIDE:
• Breathe through your nose. Cold air travelling into your body through your nostrils is warmed before it hits your lungs. Not so when you breathe through your mouth.
• Lack of sleep and sickness will increase your susceptibility to the cold.
• To avoid chapped lips, avoid licking them.
• If your hands start to feel numb, hold them to your neck or underarms.
• Always have tissues for cold-weather runny noses.
• Tuck in your clothing to limit draughts, which can rob you of body heat.
• Stock up on disposable hand warmers and leave them in your coat pockets for whenever you may need them.
• Get tight, waterproof gloves with grippers. If your hands do get cold, the best way to warm them is to rotate your arms one at a time as fast and hard as you can. You will immediately feel the blood warming your fingers.
• Cover your ears and neck. Wear a headband (not earmuffs) under your hat or a neck warmer that can also be lifted to cover your ears. For outdoor workers, scarves can get caught on any number of things and are thus rather dangerous.
BUT PLEASE REMEMBER: STAY SAFE!
• Do not overload electrical circuits.
• Heating methods that increase air moisture (bathtub, humidifier) might also encourage mold growth and condensation damage. Regularly check behind furniture that’s standing against outside-facing walls, and around windows.
• Switch off all appliances and heaters before leaving home.
• While candles create a cosy ambiance, they need watching. Do not leave them unattended and make sure to put them out before falling asleep.
• Be aware that the more you seal off air circulation to the outside, the more you increase the possibility of a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in the air. Be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector if you haven’t done so already. Remember to test it on a regular basis.
• Keep your car gas tank at least half way full. Carry drinking water, blankets, extra clothes, basic tools, cell phone, weather-band radio. If you are traveling any distance, be sure to check roadway information.
• Check local news and weather frequently and stay abreast of school, church, and road closings, event cancellations, special warnings and updates.