December 29, 2013

How to Keep Warm This Winter without Turning Up the Heat.

Central Illinois has become the scene of a Jack London story lately, but I can’t even imagine the weather in the actual places he used in his stories.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” has been stuck in my head since the temperature went below 30 degrees.

Winter is a difficult time what with the holidays and money is often an issue. The heating bill can be a point of stress, especially if your house is as drafty as mine (both the one I grew up in and the one I live in when I’m at school—I’ll probably never be warm until June). My roommate and I are reluctant to turn up the heat past 65 degrees because we don’t want to pay (even more) through our noses. So we have to get creative about it.

Here are some ways to keep your toes from falling off:

1. Layers. Obviously. I’m usually wearing about three pairs of socks, a cozy thrift store sweater on top of a few shirts and a scarf. And that’s just what I wear inside.

2. Cover the cracks in windows and doors. We used bubble wrap that we saved from packages and taped it around the windows. It actually works pretty well. Old towels, rags, and T-shirts are probably even better.

3. Leave the oven door open after you turn it off. It’s a lot of heat that we just leave sitting in the oven when it could be warming our toes!

4. Light a candle. I don’t have a fireplace, so sometimes I’ll pretend I do with a candle. And the house smells wonderful.

5. Invite people over for a potluck dinner. There will be yummy food and having more people in the house than usual will make it warmer. Yay body heat!

6. Crochet or knit a blanket! I started making one this past summer and I was always sweating and uncomfortable because it covers my legs once it gets big enough. Winter would have been the perfect time for it. And hey—you’ll have blanket!

7. Cuddle. With human or animal friends. Winter is the perfect cuddling weather. My cat used to sleep on my head or at my feet. She was the perfect space heater/purring machine.

8. Leave the bathroom door open while taking a hot shower (er… unless you have curious kids). Also, the downside to this is that it will be freezing when you get out. But all the heat that would have been trapped in the bathroom spread to the rest of the house, warming it up for when you’re dry.

9. Throw your comforter into the dryer for a few minutes to make it nice and toasty before going to sleep. Or iron the end of the bed so your feet will be warm.

10. Iron your socks before putting them on in the morning. Or iron all of your clothes (or put them in the dryer too). Just iron everything before putting it on and we’ll be unstoppable this winter.

11. Put some spice into your food! If you have a low tolerance, just a little jalapeno will get you sweating. I love spicy foods and even though I can tolerate a lot of heat just some medium salsa will make me feel warmer. We don’t have fireplaces, but we can start a fire in our mouths, eh?

12. Make soup (with some spice)! And tea (chai)! And hot toddies! …and now I’m hungry.

13. Have an impromptu dance party in the living room! It doesn’t matter if I’m alone or with friends or my boyfriend. I love to dance and it’s the perfect way to get the feeling back in my toes.

14. Exercise and get the heart pumping. If it’s really cold, do some push-ups or jumping jacks. When I’ve been sitting for a while (wrapped in a blanket) but I’m still cold, I’ll get up and do some kind of exercise. It makes me warmer and I can say “Yes, I did in fact exercise today. Thank you for asking.”

15. Spin yourself into a blanket cocoon and don’t come out until spring.

Cancel all plans and hibernate like bears—it’s the best plan once the temperatures go into the negatives.

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Assistant Editor: Sanja Cloete-Jones Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Author’s own

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