Want to warm up and save money, without renovating? Keep reading for some easy ways to lower your heating bill this season!
Winter is really setting in up here in Northern Ontario, with double digit lows and wind chills to freeze your face off. This is the time of year I am really thankful for equal billing for my natural gas, because we use more energy in these cold months than any others. I am also nostalgic for my apartment living days when we didn’t have to pay for heat! Those radiators may have woken us up at night with their crazy loud banging, but they kept us really cozy warm.
Of course I’m more than happy to embrace where we are today; but it means I have to be a bit more thoughtful about our energy use through the winter. However, please don’t think that means I think everyone should turn the thermostat down to 65 and shiver in their homes! I hate being cold. There is something almost luxurious about staying warm when it’s cold outside. In fact I think finding creative ways to experience abundant warmth without jacking up the heat, is a great metaphor for frugal living! Making sure you have the little things in place that make you feel taken care of, while working on the bigger habits that keep you in check financially, is the key to being happy on a low budget.
So today I will share with you my favourite ways to stay warm. These take very little to zero investment, so are suitable for owners and renters alike. Many are common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded or encouraged that we all deserve our own personal oasis of warmth, even in the coldest winter.
1. Wear a Hat
Yep, even indoors. While the old rumour that we lose 90% of our heat through our head might be a little off, it is true that we lose heat through any exposed area of skin. Despite this, except for those who wear a head covering for religious reasons, most of us are likely to leave this area of our bodies open to the air. So, keep your hoodie’s hood on or don a classic knit stocking cap, and you won’t mind a cooler ambient temperature.
2. Layers of Wool
Nearly all year long I practically live in a grey wool hoodie I found at St. Vincent de Paul in Ottawa. On really cold days I layer it over another (also second-hand) wool sweater. And sometimes I wear a shawl over that! It doesn’t take long before I’m peeling off the layers I’ve just put on. Just be careful not to get sweaty or you’ll get chilled, and need to go through the whole cycle again!
3. Drink Tea
You can make a beautiful ritual any time of the day with a special mug, a flavourful tea, and maybe a moment to yourself. You could write in your gratitude journal, and get yourself cozy warm at the same time!
4. Get Moving
See how many jumping jacks it takes to shake a chill. Keep a skipping rope on hand to power up after lunch. Take a brisk walk around the block, and see how much warmer your home feels when you get back inside.
5. Warming Foods and Herbs
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are foods that are considered to be warming or cooling to the body. Warming foods are said to be helpful during times when the body is chilled, and as many are foods we commonly associate with winter cooking, it is easy to make them a conscious part of your winter routine. Some warming foods include: onion, pumpkin, garlic, fresh ginger, coriander, clove, fennel, star anise . . . Sounds like the makings of pumpkin curry and a cup of chai tea to me! For more foods and their warming or cooling properties, visit shen-nong.com.
6. Personal Heat
Right before my due date for my youngest child, I pulled a muscle in my side with a bad cough. I had thought I would have to give up my plan for a home birth, but luckily my midwife suggested a heating pad to smooth my sore muscles. Amazingly it worked, and my son was born at home–in record time too! And a little side benefit is that we still have the heating pad. It is a little piece of luxury on really cold days to sit on the heating pad with a blanket over me on the couch, or to warm up the bed before I get in. I also have and use my hot water bottle, though I don’t recommend sitting on it.
A higher tech version of the heating pad is a mattress heating pad. Check out this article in Mother Earth News for information on that, and other inexpensive ways to cut down on heating costs.
7. Small Space Heaters
I don’t recommend closing off rooms of your house to preserve heat in the busier areas (it can cause condensation which leads to much bigger problems), but I do like to have a space heater for times when we want just a little extra warmth in a room. I really love our little electric wood stove–it was a gift from my lovely mother-in-law. It makes a little romantic fake fire glow, and it takes the chill off the living room when we get up in the morning or come in from outside. I like that the kids know how to turn it on themselves so they can roast their toes for a few minutes before going back to their play. It is a cosy addition to our lives, and plays into my farm-house fantasy.
There you go: my top tips for keeping warm, without a lot of investment. When writing this article I kept thinking about the scene in Frozen where Olaf says, “my own personal flurry!” I think we all need our own personal fireplace, keeping us warm wherever we go. But in lieu of that, I hope you will try some of my tips.
Have I missed any? Let me know your frugal favourite way to stay warm in the comments!