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Five frugal ways I’ll be staying warm this winter

Posted by on Tuesday 23 November 2010 in frugal | 6 comments

This winter looks like it’s set to be a cold one – and that means that heating bills can easily go through the roof. But there are plenty of frugal ways to keep warm without resorting to hugging a radiator – here are five things we’ll be doing this winter to stay warm on the cheap.

1. Staying in bed

Mmm, bed. I love it when it’s frugal to be lazy…

I was chatting to my mum & dad on instant messenger the other day and they commented that even though it was 11:30am or so, they’d only just got up and “saved on three hours of heating”. My dad is retired and my mum only works part time so they spend a lot of time at home – but instead of getting up & relocating to their needs-heating living room, they had breakfast & read in bed until they had to get up to do other things.

Here, we work from home and use laptops so it’s easy for us to start the day up there. Working at desks helps us concentrate later on but the start of the day stuff – checking email, websites, writing to-do lists – that can be done from bed with our animals around us for extra warmth.

We’ve put in hours of hard work building up a cocoon of warmth overnight – we should make the most of it!

2. Getting our blood flowing

I read somewhere that wood for a woodburning stove should warm you three times: once when you fell the tree/collect the wood, once when you saw/split the logs, and the third time when it’s on the stove. There have been a number of occasions when we’ve thought about lighting the stove so gone out to cut some wood and doing that warms us up so much that we don’t actually need to put the stove on.

A walk to the post office – two minutes down the road but uphill coming back – also warms me up a treat. And a longer dog walk keeps me toasty for ages after I get back. Without leaving the house, we’re “lucky” that our house is spread over four floors – tidying stuff up or a chore like hoovering has me running up and downstairs until I’m glowing… It doesn’t have to be much, just a break from sitting still.

3. Drinking plenty

Cold (although not ice cold) drinks as well as hot drinks – adequate hydration is apparently very important to circulation. We also love soup. All hail soup. Not technically a drink but provides a similar function.

4. Warming our cold spots

I’m with Damn the Broccoli on this one – if my feet are cold, I feel cold all over. No matter how much clothing I’m wearing elsewhere, if they’re cold, I’m cold. An extra pair of socks or slippers is a must for me. Buying thick men’s socks is cheaper than buying specially “cosy” women’s ones.

Similarly, we’ll be layering elsewhere too: John has long johns (which make him look like a male ballerina in a fun house mirror) and I’ve got cotton-heavy tights to wear under my jeans on the coldest days. And I wear vest tops under everything and cardigans on top!

5. Using someone else’s heating

I wish we lived nearer a library – not only for access to the books but because it would be somewhere we could go to work relative quiet and for free. Much better than comparatively noisy coffee shops/cafes, especially as they like you to buy costly drinks too, boo. That would be a great way to save on heating for a couple of hours.

Cheap out-of-the-house hobbies are useful too: I work & volunteer at a local amateur dramatics theatre – that gets me out the house at least one evening a week, typically more – in a production week, I’m usually there every night. If John’s out too, we don’t need any heating at all that evening and I get a whole evening of warm fun for the cost of my bus fare – if I went to a more local group, I wouldn’t even have to pay that. (It has other frugal advantages too, which I’ll go into another time.)

I also sometimes babysit for my friend – the small one has usually gone to bed at that point so it’s no hassle, just reading on their sofa, in their warm-for-the-baby house, for a couple of hours while my friend & her husband have some time to themselves. Win all around!

What’s your favourite way to get/stay warm for free?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Lisa

    I do like an excuse to stay in bed all morning ;)

    I like to wash the dishes or do any handwashing that I’ve been accumulating to warm up. We close our shutters at dusk and it makes a huge difference to the temperature in the room.

    Instead of putting the heating on all evening, we have it go off earlier, and use a heated underblanket so that we’re not getting into a cold bed. Dual controls means that if we go to bed at different times we don’t waste a half-bed of heat \o/

    • louisa

      Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment :) Yes, I’m a bit of a storage heater when it comes to plunging my hands into warm water – I soak up all the warmth and stay cosy for ages afterwards. Thanks for reminding me about it!

      We don’t have a heated underblanket – we’ve got a dog for that ;)

      • Lisa

        In the process of convincing the husband to get a cat for feet-heating (among other reasons). I have recently found that three month old babies make excellent portable heaters too, if you strap them on with a sling ;)

  2. Jan

    Hi Louisa
    can really identify with your struggle to keep warm-recently retired and somewhat alarmed at the cost of keeping the heating on. So we get up late, eat lots of porridge, make soup for lunch, wear longjohns(matalan/hawkshead!)and light the woodburner and stay in one room if possible.I need warm feet and a warm neck so cosy scarves and hubby’s old socks all help. Can you still get legwarmers?

  3. Helen Graham

    I makw good use of hot water bottles. Sitting on the sofa with one at my back keeps it and me warm for several hours. Also wear at least 2 airs of socks and bootee style slippers to keeps ankles and calves warm as well as feet. Also wear fingerless gloves when using the laptop or reading and writing.My problem is our teenaged kids who spend lots of time in their bedrooms which in our 3-story Victorian house are generally really cold. They each have a halogen heater which can be quite cheap to run but I do have to poilice how long they have them on for. They’ll happily stick heating on and then sit there in a t-shirt instead of wearing jumpers or getting under the duvet!


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