How To Stay Warm When You’re Keeping Your House Cool

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:

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.

How To Stay Warm When You're Keeping Your House Cool

Move Around

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?

How to stay warm info

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, and Racing Towards Retirement*

Fun Money Mom

32 thoughts on “How To Stay Warm When You’re Keeping Your House Cool

  1. My little one and I handle the cold just fine, but my wife not so much…so that can tend to be a point of negotiation for us. I have no problem wearing sweatshirts around the house (although I don’t think I have any red sweatshirts…:) ) or putting a blanket on me when sitting on the couch. And at night we definitely turn it down and throw on some more blankets on our bed.

    Good idea with the exercising to stay warm as well…a little extra motivation!
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    • You do have to keep everyone in the house comfortable. I know when my mom used to come visit, we’d turn the heat up a touch because that’s what she was comfortable with. And there’s certainly a point when you can go too far…Jon had some buddies who were having a “Let’s see who can turn the heat on last” contest. The “winner” managed to make himself pretty sick in a 45 degree house!

  2. This is very timely for me! Just woke up to frost and a very cold house this morning! My hands and feet are perpetually cold and , like you, I simply bundle up, even inside the house. Lots of fleece blankets are on the beds and by the couch. I wear a fleece jacket and fuzzy slippers from October through April. I love the idea of “thinking” warm thoughts! This is something I am trying this morning! Thanks for the suggestions!
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  3. Living in West Central Florida, we do not have to take the extreme measures one does “Up North.” We do, however, make some changes. Our thermostat is usually set at around 68. Instead of the usual blouse, capri pants, and sandals, I wear long sleeve shirts (or sweats if it is really cool), jeans or long pants, socks and athletic shoes. I no longer go barefoot around the house. We need to add a little weather stripping around a couple of the French doors on the back of the house. At night, we add a lightweight blanket on top of the comforter if needed. We already have rugs in all the tile bathrooms. Since our master bath is very cool, we sometimes use a small electric heater when we shower instead up heating up the whole house. We also close the vents in the two guest rooms. Be careful about closing vents, because it you close too many it can damage your heat pump or be anti productive. This year, we really will get a professional to check out our in ground propane tank and also check the gas logs. As we usually do in the fall, we will have the tall shrubs cut back so more sunlight can come in the house through the windows. By late spring, they will grow high enough to provide shade again. We only had one hard freeze last year, but it damaged many palms and other semi tropical plants.

    • Love the idea about putting a space heater in the bathroom. that’s one area where it can be hard to bundle up, but once I’m dressed and dry I’m fine. thanks for your input, Aunt Jayne!

    • I think it depends on other things too. We have a heat pump, but I know when we lived in a house with a natural gas system, the system was more efficient at heating at colder temperatures.

  4. Thanks for this because I surely needed the reminder of the savings. I cant stand being cold! I may or may not have took a sick day this week because I didnt want to get out of bed to a cold house. I cranked the heat up this week but I know I will hate when I see the powerbill. Im going to borrow a few of your tips so I can battle the weather change with my budget in tact!
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    • I don’t like cold, but $10 a day for heat is way more than I want to spend! We’d spend as much on power in 4 months as we currently spend all year.

    • Me too Gary. I did just get back from a walk with the kiddo, though, and notice that my office is considerably warmer than it has been all day. Whether that’s due to my circulation being better after walking a mile and a half or due to the fact that I just spent 40 minutes outside, it still is a noticeable difference in my comfort level.

  5. Great tips. My wife has adapted to a colder house especially when she saw how much it cost to keep it at 72 degrees in the winter time. We did make a compromise and get a space heater for her when she on the couch reading with her hot tea and blanket. But other than that she’s a trooper.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Teaching Kids About MoneyMy Profile

    • It’s great when everyone’s on board with the savings routine. Seeing Jon’s numbers helped convince me that maybe I should let us go a little cooler.

  6. I hate being cold! I have a warm, fuzzy robe. On cold mornings, you’ll always find me wearing that, my equally fuzzy slippers, and holding a hot mug of coffee. But now, I’ll also be thinking warm thoughts. I also need to get some exercise back into my routine.

    I love your infographics! Very helpful.
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  7. Oh yes, me too! I put on a jacket when the temp slips under 80, though it’s amazing how much warmer than cotton the synthetic materials can be, and how doing a few push-ups or taking a quick walk can warm me right up! External heat sources like electric blankets or heated rice packs are required when I’m sedentary, though.
    We also use our dehydrator a lot in the winter since the warm air will help heat our kitchen.
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    • Jon’s worn fleece jackets around the house for years, but I didn’t wear mine because they were too big. He gave me one that fit last year, and I wear it constantly in cooler weather. Big improvement over a cotton sweatshirt or sweater.

  8. The thing with the cold is that it’s really hard to get out of bed.. it’s really cozy when cuddling with someone you love, as you said, but it’s so not cozy to get out of the bed. I’m sad to say that winters are full of unproductive days because I just don’t like to get out of my warm blanket.
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    • LOL, yes, it’s harder to get out of a warm bed, especially if you have to get up in the dark. I find that the prospects of a hot shower (and coffee!) help. One of the best helps is to put the coffee pot on auto-brew for the am so the scent helps motivate me to get up.

    • It was pretty hot this summer, so I think I’ve been wearing my fleece jacket around a bit more. And I love wool socks!

  9. We moved down from New Jersey to Texas this summer. We may be waiting for a while to feel cold. Our A/C is still running to keep the home cool – though not that much. Layering blankets on the bed makes it really comfortable and cozy – getting out of it in the morning is the hard part.
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    • NJ to Texas probably will mean a big difference in your winter…and yeah, getting up in the morning has become a lot more difficult between the levels of light and the anticipation of bare feet on cold floors. We’ve probably been waking up a good half hour later than we do during the summer.

      We try really hard to avoid AC until June (though it usually gets turned on at least a few days in May), and usually manage to turn it off for the year around mid-September.In the spring, we’ll probably do a Keep cool article. There are some tricks there too.

  10. Hi Emily,

    Winter has always been my favorite season because the weather is so cool and that is the period where we recognize the full worth of warmth. I think, when you are watching on your couch then the surface is cold, and you don’t want to put your down, then cover yourself with a blanket is what i love the most.

    Winter can trigger cold and fever, so it is wise to drink warm water and take precautions to ensure that you don’t catch a cold.

    I appreciate for sharing few tips on how to stay warm when keeping the house cool.
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    • You do have to be careful about not getting sick…we switch from high-flow air filters to more restrictive ones and make sure we at least stay dry (During the summer, Little Bit and I generally let our hair air dry but pull out the blowdryers as it cools down.) Plenty of fluids can be a hard one, but I find herbal teas good for hydrating.

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