Brrr! Cold weather is upon us, with the official start of autumn, and I can feel it in the air. The city where I live once hosted the winter Olympics, so we know from cold, as old Yiddish ladies would say. Here are five frugal ways to stay warm and cozy without setting your heating bill on fire.
Whether it’s your sweetie-pie while watching TV, your kids during bedtime story hour, your cat while you’re trying to read the newspaper or even just a pillow in bed, having something next to you can be an excellent way to stay warm. Try it tonight- snuggle up to a few pillows against your body- they will definitely help to retain heat, especially if the pillows are under the covers with you.
Layer it on.
As have said countless mothers: “You’re cold? Put a sweater on.” Dressing in layers can be more effective than wearing the equivalent thickness of clothing in a single layer, because each layer traps air. Your body heat then warms that air; eventually your clothing will feel like a cozy down comforter. So start out with a tank top, then add a tee shirt, then a sweater, then a sleeveless vest if need be. Don’t forget to act French either- a scarf draped stylishly around your neck does wonders at keeping you warm. The other advantage to wearing layers is that it’s easier to remove just a little bit of clothing when you start to get too hot.
Turn it down.
Another famous mother tactic is to turn down the thermostat. This is one of the best ways to save money on your heating bills, although you then need to employ the other measures mentioned here in order to keep from turning purple with cold. The best way to reset the temperature of your house is to lower it gradually. Delay as long as you can before you turn the furnace on for the first time, then set it as low as possible. If you don’t have an automatic thermostat you should get one. If your house is like ours and automatic thermostats aren’t possible, then make it a priority to lower the heat before going to bed at night and before leaving the house in the morning.
Heat it up.
What? Did you think that after I told you to turn the heat down in your house I would then tell you to turn it up? Not today. Instead of heating yourself up from the outside, try warming things up on the inside first. Now’s the time of the season for thick, hearty soups, chunky, spicy chili, cheese and potatoes, potatoes and cheese. A favorite French recipe from this region involves melted cheese on little individual table burners, then eating it on steaming hot boiled potatoes with cold cuts. I dare you to feel cold after a meal like that.
Block it out.
There are many ways for a cold draft of air to sneak into the house: under the door, through the edges of the window, up from the floor. Block as many of these as possible! Now’s the time to throw an extra rug (or two or three) down on the tile floor. You can make cheap draft stoppers for the door by rolling up old towels lengthwise and tying them with pretty ribbons or even twine, every few inches until you have what looks like a very large sausage. French houses almost always have wooden shuttters for their doors and windows, these help immensely in keeping out the cold. Add another layer to the window with curtains, or even hang an old but pretty quilt up on a curtain rod. Make sure to keep doors closed to any unused rooms as well.
Looking for more tips? David from My Two Dollars has ten ways to save money on heating bills this winter.
How do you combat the cold? What are your frugal heat-seeking tricks?