Winter weather makes for a near constant struggle to stay warm. The wind takes on a bitter bite, snow and rain clouds block the sun, and you have to re-heat your cocoa three times to keep it from freezing before you’ve drunk it all. This time of year can feel like a constant tug of war between your cold toes and your soaring electrical bill. But there is hope yet! Try these 10 tips, and stay comfy and cozy all winter long without breaking the bank!
One of the first and most important things to do in cold weather is layer. Don’t be afraid to get creative about it; long underwear and ’80s style leg warmers under your jeans? Go for it! Five sweaters and a hat with a pompom? Hey, if it’s warm, it’s warm.
The looser your layers are, the better they will retain your body heat. Fabric acts as insulation, which means the fluffier and baggier your clothes, the more insulation you have. Some materials are better than others; polar fleece is having a heyday just now, for example. And wool is a perennial favorite this time of year. Silk, cotton, and linen though, no matter how puffy and bulky they are, are still summer fabrics.
Don’t forget about your extremities in all of this. Your body sheds heat from any exposed bit of skin, and the more blood vessels that skin has, the more heat it loses. This means places like wrists and ankles, your neck, and your head are all bits you want to keep well wrapped up.
Insulate Your House
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There are plenty of ways to insulate your house without starting big renovation projects that open up your walls and give you fluff lung. Just as you bundle yourself, bundle up your house as well!
Add throw rugs to uncarpeted areas. Hang thick, warm curtains over your windows. Pile blankets on all the beds and sofas. Even adding tablecloths will help. The more fluffy downy things you have in place; the more cold surfaces that are covered with warm fabric, the warmer your overall house will be.
Find Your Biggest Fan
If the layers aren’t enough and you find yourself messing with the thermostat, keep that hot air circulating by turning on your ceiling fan. Otherwise the space over your head will be cozy warm as the heat rises, but from where you’re sitting things will be just as cold as before.
You can have the radiator on while still saving yourself a hefty power bill by just directing that heat where you want it to be. Fan that balmy goodness, and bask in the warmth.
As an added tip: During the summer months you want your fan moving counter clockwise at a fast pace, thus directing a stream of air downward that feels cooler on your skin. In winter, change the direction and slow it down so that your warm air circulates, but doesn’t hit you like a draft when you’re already chilly.
It may be an old wive’s tale that claims getting your feet wet will give you a cold, but there’s a grain of truth buried in the story: Water, having a higher density than air, conducts temperature more readily. So cold water lowers your core temperature faster than cold air. When your core temperature drops, not only do you feel colder, but your immune system suffers and you are more likely to catch a cold.
When the thermometer dips and the flurries start to whirl, make sure to dry your wet clothes properly before putting them on, and wear dampness wicking under layers and water resistant outer layers. Hats and umbrellas are a good investment. Dry your hair when you come out of the shower. And watch out for puddles!
And right after we’ve finished telling you to avoid water like the plague, try warming up with a hot shower! Just as cold water will cool you down faster, hot water will warm you up. A bath or shower raises your core temperature quickly. When you just know that you can’t take another second of this frigid nonsense, hop in the tub and feel your frustration dissolve. Make sure you bundle back up as soon as you’ve finished toweling off, though, or your exposed skin will cool and you’ll be right back where you started!
Even if you don’t have time for a full body hot water experience, Sticking your feet in a tub of steaming liquid, or even just washing the dishes by hand can help raise your entire body temperature.
Well, ok, don’t drink alcohol, because that actually lowers your core temperature, even while it makes you feel warmer, But if you want to stay dry and still take advantage of hot water’s warming powers, get yourself a steaming cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate!
Drinking warm liquids or eating hot food puts that heat right into the center of your body, warming you from the inside out. Your toes might not feel the effects for a few minutes, but the warmth from a mug of cider or a bowl of soup sticks with you a lot longer than some other warming methods do.
Touch Hot Stuff
But don’t burn yourself.
Conduction is the scientific process of transferring heat between one object and another, so touching cold things cools you down, and touching warm things does the opposite. This is handy for when you need a quick pick me up heat wise; find something toasty and hang on!
Pocket sized hand warmers are a life saver in the winter, whether you buy the disposable packets available in bulk, or reusable kind that last for years. Perhaps you will choose to while away the long winter nights by creating your own microwaveable rice bags.
Heat Things Up in the Kitchen
Speaking of hot things, go ahead and heat up your oven! Try out some new cookie recipes or bake a frozen pizza, using your oven will help to warm the rest of your house, and eating the products of your labor will warm you from the inside!
If bundling, showering, and chugging hot cocoa aren’t doing it for you, get up and move! Go for a jog, or have a dance party in your living room. Get your blood running, and soon your fingers and toes will be as happy as if spring had come early.