Hold Off On Heating with These 10 Warming Ways
It’s October. In Nebraska. We will see Halloween before we smell the crackling logs on our wood stove. Because it is such a big deal for many to finally crank on the heat, we’ve implemented 10 strategies for keeping warm just a wee bit longer – sans heating unit.
Open the shades. Right now we are under construction, and the drapes clash horribly with the freshly-sanded trim and the plastic-covered furniture. Since we have no window coverings during this time of transition, we reap the benefits of sunkissed warmth spreading through our home during the 10am – 5 pm hours. Free heat feels so good.
Put an end to line drying. We enjoy hanging our clothes out on the line when it is warm. Now that frost has fallen, we reverse our thinking to utilize the heat our dryer produces. Since our dryer wasn’t vented outside our home, we use a lint receptacle to “catch” the lint. These kits are under $15 at a hardware store, and in addition to the benefit of having the dryer heat in our home, the added moisture is nice during the winter months. (Be sure to keep this system in check with weekly cleanings and adequate water to the trap. Families with allergies will need to be especially diligent.)
Dress in layers. I am still seeing kids walk to school in shorts, despite the 35 degree mornings. This is ridiculous to me, as clothing is the cheapest way to stay warm in this season of transition. Once the first frost appears, I rid my kids' drawers of shorts and sleeveless tops, packing them up into plastic tubs for winter storage. They are free to choose from any of their winter clothing, and I encourage them to dress in a t-shirt under their warmer clothes for added warmth. They don’t complain about the cold when they are properly dressed (including socks and indoor shoes.)
Make your bed. We also switch our sheets to flannel for the winter. We supplement each bed with a wool blanket and an extra quilt or two. In the upstairs room (where it is coldest) the adults have an electric blanket set on low for the really cold nights. It’s amazing how peaceful you can sleep with a chill to the air and your body comfortably warm.
Top it off. My ultra-sexy nightwear consists of sweats or long underwear with wool socks. I also wear a stocking cap on the colder nights. It keeps me feeling snug, and I have less bed head in the morning. (Plus, hubby thinks it’s cute!)
Spice things up. Cold sandwiches take a sabbatical for the winter at my house. We bust out the chili recipes, crockpot fare, and make all our evening meals a bit zestier than normal. Most of it is purely psychological – but it does help keep a warmth about the dinner table. (Another perk is the economics of spicy meals. Many of them are dirt cheap.)
Keep hydrated. Our hot cocoa bill is higher than normal during the winter. We replace our chocolate milk with hot chocolate (Ovaltine works well for a vitamin-packed alternative.) I enjoy herbal teas and decaf coffees in the evenings. Hot apple cider kept simmering on the stove not only taste delish, but keeps your home smelling yummy. Replacing your cold drinks with hot ones can keep you toasty any time of day.
Snuggle. I’ll admit to letting my kids jump in bed with us a bit more in the winter time. The toddlers are like radiant heaters that require no electricity. Just toss a 3-year-old in the mix, for an instant 10-degree warm up. (Cuddles are the cheapest form of heat I know.)
Use a space heater (wisely.) I’m not a huge fan of the small electric heaters. They are good for some things, but quite dangerous in other situations. Use your head on this one, and under no circumstances should you leave one running overnight, in a child’s room unattended, or when you are not in the home. If nothing else, I like one running in the bathroom first thing in the morning. (It takes the edge off that cold seat, if you know what I mean.)
Go to Grandma’s. Now I’m not saying that my house is too cold. Many wouldn’t be comfortable in anything as chilly as 55 in October. On days when I’m not particularly enthusiastic about watching TV in a cooler-than-average home (or once a week), I’ll head next door to my mother’s house. She’s glad to see us, and she has cable. (It’s also 10 degrees warmer by default. If she’s already paying for gas, why not?)
Call me cheap or stingy, but I don’t see any reason to crank up the heat yet this year. With 35-degree nights turning into almost 70-degree days, starting up my wood stove would leave us baked by mid-afternoon. These tips help us in the month or two between seasons, keep our annual heating bill low, and help us to appreciate that roaring fire when it finally gets burning each year.