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Wed Jan 2, 2019, 05:32 PM

7 tactics for staying warm in a cool house [View all]


7 tactics for staying warm in a cool house
Katherine Martinko, January 2, 2019

Do the green thing and resist reaching for the thermostat.

A yellow Post-It note covers the thermostat at my parents' house. It says, "Don't touch! Put log on fire!" Indeed, their house in the Canadian forest is unusual. It is heated predominantly by a wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen, and the furnace is used only at night to "take the edge off" if the outdoor temperature is supposed to drop below -20C (-4F). This means that the kitchen is always toasty warm, sometimes oppressively so, while the rest of the house can be uncomfortably cool.

As a result, my siblings and I learned from early on to use old-fashioned tactics to stay warm and cozy all winter long. I was delighted to see many of these 'tricks' listed in an article on The Simple Dollar by Donna Freedman, titled "11 Essential (and Mostly Cheap) Tactics for Weathering Winter's Worst." These tricks are useful not only for saving money and allowing one to keep the thermostat lower, but also, I'd argue, for making the cold winter months more enjoyable; they add an element of coziness.
Below are my daily cold-busting tactics, many of which are shared in common with Freedman's article and some that aren't. The more you do these things, the more normal they become. Now I keep my own home cool (17C/63F during the day, 12C/54F at night) because these ingrained practices eliminate the need to turn up the heat.

#1: Wool socks and slippers

If you live in an uncarpeted house with hardwood floors, as I do, then wool socks and slippers are an absolute must. Each on its own is helpful, but put the two together and you'll have the most divinely warm feet all day long.
#2: Hot drinks

Working from home means that I'm fairly still for prolonged periods of time, sitting or standing in front of my computer. Having a steady supply of hot tea gets me through the day without overdoing the caffeine. Drink anything hot lemon water with honey, broth in a mug, spiced apple cider, coffee, steamed flavored milk. It will raise your body temperature and boost your mood.
#3: A 'frugal heating pad' and/or hot water bottle

Donna Freedman describes how to make a frugal heating pad: "Fill a sock or small cloth bag with uncooked rice, and heat in the microwave for a warmth that keeps on giving." It can keep your hands warm in your pockets or your toes warm in bed. Other grains work, too; my mother once stitched me a barley- and lavender-filled pad. An old-fashioned hot water bottle is a simple yet glorious addition, too.

I live in upstate NY, I do not own a furnace (never installed one in the house), have a passive solar house (south facing great room/windows), tend to drink hot tea and have many small blankets on my couch and typically only start the wood stove on weekends/holidays and when it's below 35F outside (for the record I heat mostly from wood gathered from my own 10+ acres). I have become acclimated to a 55F house and rarely feel cold during the winter.

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Reply 7 tactics for staying warm in a cool house [View all]
NeoGreen Jan 2019 OP
PoindexterOglethorpe Jan 2019 #1
TexasTowelie Jan 2019 #2
safeinOhio Jan 2019 #3
mahina Jan 2019 #4
NeoGreen Jan 2019 #6
littlemissmartypants Jan 2019 #5
akraven Jan 2019 #7
Kaleva Jan 2019 #8