"People are very worried about this winter," said Ann Heidenreich, executive director of the nonprofit Community Energy Services in Canton, New York. "We're not going to deal with all that needs to be done, there's no way. We're going to have to deal with emergencies this winter."
U.S. anxiety about staying warm this winter spreads -USA Today

My mom always told us kids that "heat rises" this was an answer to any statement that inferred I was cold; and I would need to put on slippers, sweater or a hat to stay warm if I didn't want to lose that internal body heat.

All three items that when put together make you very toasty in your home in a matter of minutes. And as I write this I realize I am bouncing my legs up and down to keep warm and should really take mom's advice and go put on my fuzzy slippers and maybe even a robe or sweatshirt.

Putting on layers is the easiest way to warm your core up and save money, also don't forget the hands and feet as well.

The Free Stuff:

1. Set your thermostat at 68. If you can go lower, do it. Right now we have the it as low at 66 before we start to feel the cold. When you turn on the heat or cool down the house, just use only what is needed. Slowly drop or increase the temperature as needed, large changes in temperature is wasteful

2. Wear layers. This means wearing long sleeves and no shorts around the house; make sure you make use of that robe you got for Christmas last year and wear your socks or slippers around so you don't lose body heat. Put on a hat or throw that ugly scarf around your neck.

3. Drink warm liquids. One of the quickest ways to warm up is to heat up your insides by drinking warm water, milk, tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

4. Use the drapes to your advantage. My partner likes to tie back the curtains to let the sunlight and heat in, but the minute the sun starts to go down, I go around and let the drapes close to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.

5. Use your stove. A little bit of oven heat can go a long way to warm up a room, so have the oven due double duty for baking and heating your home

6. Wash and dry your clothes. Whether you use a machine to dry or an indoor line, the heat from the dryer and the humidity from line drying can assist in keeping the house warm

7. Keep your bathroom door open. Keep your door open while you shower, if this is possible, to let the warm steam out into your home as a heating assistant.

8. Close up your fireplace. If you aren't using the fireplace to heat your home, make sure the damper is closed so that warm air is not escaping up and out of your home.

9. Close the door. Keep the doors to bathrooms, bedrooms, basements closed when you aren't in them to keep the heat in your main living area. The smaller area you have to heat the quicker it will warm up.

10. Roll up towels. In my home I have rolled up a towel and placed it at the bottom of the front door to keep the wind from howling through and cold air from escaping. Don't forget to use it for window sills as well.

11. Cover up your window air conditioner. If you can't take the a/c out of your window, make sure that you have sealed it up well in the window and covered the vents so no cold air gets in.

12. Home-made heating sock. Fill a sock with rice or wheat, tie up the end, heat in the microwave for a few seconds, and use it as a heating pad.

Costly Stuff:

13. Plastic wrap your home. You can buy plastic window covering to go up on the inside of your windows and keep the heat in.

14. Install a ceiling fan. This can be helpful to circulate the hot air that rises, down with the cooler air you walk around in.

15. Wrap yourself up. Electric throws (like small electric blankets) can keep you warm enough that the heat can be off completely in the room. Think about it as really concentrating your utility use to just your body. And don't forget to turn it off.

16. Replace your weather stripping. The minimal amount it takes to repair in comparison to the savings will be well worth it. If it is old and cracked or coming off, it's time to replace.

17. Feel your electrical outlets. In older houses, they often leak cold air. Most home improvement stores sell inexpensive covers that easily attach behind the cover plate to block the cold.

18. Insulate your attic. No need for the hot air to move up and out of your home through the attic. Keep it where you need it most.

19. Plant trees for cover. Though trees can be a barrier to much needed sunshine, also consider them as a wall against cold howling winds.

20. Replace old windows. This is an expensive investment but if you are getting ice forming in the corners of your windows, the investment may be worth it in the long run


  1. Anonymous // Saturday, January 03, 2009 8:11:00 AM  

    Dawn - I'm currious where your warning on being "too cold" comes from. Do you know of medical studies that link living temperature to illness (outside of the elderly or other folks challenged with maintaining their ody temps)?

    An ER MD friend of mine insists that catching a cold from being in the cold is baseless.

  2. Dawn // Saturday, January 03, 2009 8:54:00 AM  

    Good point - I hadn't really researched it, just went by what I had heard... I have removed that comment.

  3. Anonymous // Saturday, January 03, 2009 1:59:00 PM  

    Great tips.

    I think it's a good idea to go to bed early, and then you can turn the central heating down significantly or turn it off completely (depending on the outside temperature).

    My partner and I do this and it's a great way to save a couple of hours of expensive heating.

    There's plenty you can do in bed, watch TV, read a book, surf the net on a laptop.

  4. PBS // Sunday, January 04, 2009 12:32:00 PM  

    I think that being chilled can lower a person's resistance to illness--but that's just my opinion! I keep it very cool in here, 60 degrees and as a special treat for guests, 62 degrees. Guests also get a warm, clean robe or blanket to wrap up in and warm beverages to drink. For myself, when I'm too cool it's usually because I'm just sitting around. Cleaning, clearing, organizing and doing exercise are GREAT ways to keep warm and get the blood pumping!

  5. moocifer // Sunday, January 04, 2009 8:42:00 PM  

    Putting plastic over your window frames is great, buy the clear plastic they sell for the purpose, but skip the tape they sell for the purpose. Clear plastic packing tape works great and costs about 1/10 the amount.

    As to home temps, my house is either at 60, 55, or 50. 60 when I'm feeling wimpy (this is not often, but the last 2 days I have "cranked" it to 60!) , 55 when I'm not, and 50 at night and when I'm not in the house, or if I'm feeling particularly spartan.

    The key here is to wear a down vest, a hat, and warm slippers, as well as two layers of pants (athletic pants under slacks or jeans is what I do) when the temperature is 55 or below.

  6. moocifer // Sunday, January 04, 2009 8:46:00 PM  

    My bedroom, which is upstairs and distant from the controlling thermostat down the staircase, got down to 39 degrees during the last New England cold snap when it was 10F outside. Usually it drops to 45-48F by the time I go to bed and into the morning, at which time the heat switches back to 60F for my morning routine.

    However, I am warm in my bed because I sleep under two sleeping bags. My cat sleeps under there with me too!

    That's why it feels like the heat is "cranked" when it's up to 60!

  7. Dawn // Sunday, January 04, 2009 9:51:00 PM  

    That is initially what I was thinking of when I wrote the now deleted comment, but after some research I was incorrect in my thinking- extreme cold has more of an issue that the 50 degrees that would be in a house.

    See you already have the idea down pat- layers, layers, layers!

  8. Anonymous // Monday, January 05, 2009 8:23:00 AM  

    Those are all great ideas, I think I will try a few out when I get home. I usually keep my heater set around 70, a few less degrees can make a huge difference. Thanks!