One of the best ways to cut back on your electrical costs during winter is to turn down your thermostat. Some of us, though, deal better with cool temperatures in the house than others.
And I’m one of those cold-natured folks who bundles up on mild fall days. My hands and feet get icy, and I end up stomping around to stay warm.
Still, when Jon turns the temperature down to 65 or so, I don’t protest too much. I’ve adapted to a bunch of strategies to stay warm even though cold is not my natural habitat.
You can manage to stay pretty comfortable even when you’re trying to keep your house a little cooler, and that can really pay off.
Jon reckons that in really cold weather, it can cost $10 a day or more to keep our house at 70-72 degrees. By lowering our thermostat just 3 or 4 degrees and dropping to 64 or so at night, we cut that amount to $3 or $4 a day.
That’s serious savings!
Plus, keeping your house cooler means you’re reducing your carbon footprint. Whether you use gas or electricity to heat your home, you’ll use less if you notch the temperature down in winter.
So if you have trouble adapting to cooler temperatures but want lower electrical bills, try these strategies to stay warm even when you’re keeping your house cool.
Dress for Warmth
If you want to keep your house cooler, dress warmer.
Picture Jon in the winter. Notice the turtleneck, the sweater, the fleece jacket, the hat. He’s all bundled up, ready to…watch TV in his recliner. What you don’t see as easily is his undershirt (he swears 60/40 blends are the warmest) and thick socks. He’s all bundled up to sit comfortably in a cooler house.
Now Little Bit, in fleece pajamas and furry house shoes. As soon as she complains she’s cold, her dad tells her to put on a fleece jacket of her own. If she wears skirts or dresses, she wears leggings under them.
We don’t wear flip flops and t-shirts when it’s cold outside. There are times when I need to remind my daughter of that fact, but for the most part, we bundle up, even in the house. We put on and take off layers as appropriate.
When you’re really feeling cold, make sure you take care of the following:
- Don’t go barefoot. Wear socks and/or house shoes to keep a layer or two between you and cold floors.
- Fleece jackets are a great insulative layer to wear around the house.
- While it may not be true that 45% of your body heat can be lost through a bare head, wearing a hat inside is one of the most often overlooked ways of staying warm. If you’re really cold, throw on a hat or a hood.
Blankets and More Blankets
Nothing says cozy like curling up under a blanket with someone you love.
While it doesn’t make getting up on dark winter mornings any easier, a cozy warm bed is one of the best defenses against a colder house.
We arrange our bed for maximum warmth. We use a downy comforter on top of an electric blanket, on top of a thermal cotton blanket, on top of flannel sheets. No warm air escapes our nest!
An electric blanket uses a little bit of power, but it’s a lot less than keeping the house a couple of degrees warmer.
We also have a multitude of throws and quilts around the house. We curl up under one to read or watch TV, either singly or together.
Other things you can doaround the house to stay warmer include:
- Bare feet on cold tile feels particularly cold. Use bath mats and bath rugs in your bathrooms.
- Likewise, area rugs make hardwood floors more cozy, and help insulate your floors.
- A heating pad on the back of a chair feels lovely, both as a way of heating up a little and as a way of relaxing back muscles. You can also buy or make microwave bean bags to use to warm up your neck.
- Move furniture away from vents and windows so cold air doesn’t strike so hard.
It’s easy to think that the easiest way of staying warm is to stay nice and toasty inside. A lot of times, though, the opposite is true.
You know the best way to cure feeling cold in the house on a winter’s day? Bundle up and go outside for a bit. Activity, especially outdoor activity, keeps you warmer.
First, after being in 30 degrees, 65 is positively toasty. Even 15 minutes outside helps reset your temperature tolerances a bit. Plus, a bit of warm sun feels great on a cold day.
You’ll also be counteracting winter inactivity. I love to sit under a blanket and read in the winter, and if I’m not careful I can sit for hours at a time. Moving around, though, helps blood circulate. Icy fingers and toes warm up and I’m healthier.If the weather’s too nasty for outside, an indoor dance party, calisthenics, or a little time on a treadmill or elliptical machine can help warm you up too.
Eat and Drink Warmly
We drink a lot of hot drinks in our house. Not just the old standbys of tea and coffee, hot chocolate and cider. We also enjoy warm milk, cranberry juice and lemonade. (and the occasional hot toddy!) Hot drinks not only keep you hydrated (just as important in winter) but holding a mug of steamy goodness is also a great way of warming up icy hands.
We make plenty of soups and stews in winter, too. Jon or I fix chili at least once a week, and I love to fix French Onion Soup. We exchange cold cereal for steamy oatmeal and toast the bread on our PB&Js. And melted cheese makes everything taste warmer!
There’s a reason people gravitate toward casseroles, roasted potatoes and other comfort foods in winter. They provide warm food and they provide some extra calories. You do have to be careful not to overdo the calories, but eating comfort food is a great way to feel warmer.
Not to mention, heating things on the stove or in the oven warms up the house a tiny bit, but it warms up the tummy really well.
Adding warm spices to food and drinks also helps us stay warm. Sometimes we add cinnamon or nutmeg for homey warmth, sometimes it’s ginger or peppers for a little extra heat. Whether hot sauce or pumpkin spice warms you, you can use flavors to shed the cold.
Think Warm Thoughts
Twenty degrees and the hockey game’s on
Nobody cares they are way too far gone
Screamin’, “Boat drinks”, something to keep ’em all warm-Jimmy Buffett
I didn’t really think about what I was doing too much until I read this article on utility savings by Caroline Cocker, but sometimes the best defense against feeling cold is to imagine feeling warm.
There are a couple of tricks to this. For instance, i remember reading a Dick Francis novel where the main character wore red because it made him feel warmer. Now it makes me feel warmer too, so I have a multitude of red sweaters and sweatshirts to pull out on cold days.
Whether you choose to wear bright colors, listen to Jimmy Buffett, watch Beach Blanket Bingo, or drink daiquiris, you can help get yourself in a warm summery state of mind. Just avoid Fargo or Call of the Wild.
You can also bring in warm thoughts with fire, even if you don’t have a fireplace. We light candles, but we also watch the Yule Log well after Christmas. If elevator Christmas tunes aren’t your thing (or are only in the appropriate season), just turn the sound down and play different music instead.
Stay Warm this Winter
Take it from the ultimate cold wimp…you can stay warm and comfortable in a colder house. This year, instead of changing the thermostat, change your clothing, your behavior, and your mindset. You’ll stay warm and cozy, reduce your heating bill and save the environment!
What’s your best hint for staying warm even as the temperature drops?