The October weather may have left many of us shivering, but most of us would agree that for the sake of our environment and our wallets, it’s not time to switch on the central heating just yet. But before we start worrying about where the line should be drawn between thriftiness and comfort, here are a few ideas to try to keep warm at home without resorting to central heating. Afterall, stick the next few weeks out and you’ll feel much less guilty if you have to switch it on for a few hours in the depths of January!
Draught-proof your house
Whether you are using your central heating or not, one of the most important things to do to your home as the weather turns colder is to draught proof it. A draughty home will cause you problems throughout winter. Without central heating, you may find the temperature in your living room becomes almost as cold as outside. And if your central heating is running in a draughty house, it will be difficult to feel the benefit and you’ll find yourself wasting money and energy. Draught proofing your house isn’t difficult, however, and can save you money and keep you comfortable during the colder months. Spend a day paying attention to where warm air can escape from your home and reap the rewards throughout the winter.
Close your curtains
Heat can be lost through windows, even draught-proofed ones. Just touch the glass or stand near a window in winter and you’ll feel how cold the air is around it. To prevent the loss of heat around windows, draw your curtains to retain warmth. Keeping curtains drawn in winter is much easier than the rest of the year, with less hours of daylight to miss out on. If you do find yourself using central heating and have radiators beneath your windows, make sure you don’t trap warm air behind the curtains. Instead, tuck the curtains behind the radiator to allow warm air to travel to the rest of the room.
Tiled or wooden floors can become cold during the winter months, especially in the morning. To take the pain out of those first steps onto the bathroom tiles, try placing more mats and rugs around the home. Floor coverings help to stop warm air being lost through the ground, and give you somewhere more comfortable to step than the icy cold floor.
Have plenty of warm drinks on hand
Warm drinks such as tea, coffee or hot chocolate are a great way to raise your body temperature, taking the edge off cold evenings. Just like how you sweat when you drink tea on a warm day, your body instantly becomes warmer when a warm drink is consumed. Holding a warm mug with chilly hands is also a sure fire way to get the feeling back into your fingers, or try a bowl or mug of soup if you’re feeling hungry. Heating your body from the inside is one of the most effective ways to stay warm at home without central heating.
A thick, woolly jumper makes a great top layer for keeping yourself warm without central heating. But fleeces and jumpers alone aren’t in fact the best way to keep yourself warm. Layering your clothes helps to trap more layers of warm air, keeping you feeling cosy for longer. A set of winter thermals, or technical base layers work to keep warm air close to your skin, while further layers such as trousers, t shirts, jumpers etc provide further insulation. If you plan on spending a lazy evening with a book or with friends, cover yourself up with a blanket or throw as a top layer to keep all of the heat in.
Allow warm air to spread
If you are trying to avoid using air conditioning around your home, there are still ways you can add a little extra warmth where it is needed. If you use your oven to cook your evening meal, leave the oven door open after you’ve finished cooking and switched it off. The trapped warm air will slowly spread around your kitchen and to other nearby areas of your house, letting you enjoy some recycled warm air at no extra cost.
Perhaps it’s not the first thing on your mind on a chilly evening, but exercise is one of the most effective ways of raising your body temperature when cold. A jog around the block, skipping or even star jumps for a few minutes can help to raise your heart rate and improve blood circulation- a quick way to stop any shivering. Once warm, have a blanket or a few layers on hand and use them as needed to try and keep an optimal temperature.
Hot water bottles
It takes far less energy to boil a kettle than it does to heat an entire house for an evening, so if you’re not looking forward to climbing into a cold bed, try using a hot water bottle to make it easier. Clutch one to your chest or rest your hands or feet on it to feel the benefit of its warmth, and use it in bed, on the sofa or anywhere that you’re likely to become cold through lack of movement. A full kettle can generally fill 3 to 4 hot water bottles, so a small family can be kept warm with just one boil- definitely a thrifty way to keep cold fingers and toes at bay.
Image sourced: Madeline Tosh