Keeping it Real…Warm

Here in Western Michigan, it is cold. Real cold. My bet is that unless you live quite far south, this time of year it is cold for you as well.

It can be hugely frustrating to stay green while also staying warm. Not to mention the fact that we are all trying to be more frugal, and an enormous gas or electric bill is not something anyone is happy about. In my home, with a small toddler, I am more concerned about her comfort and warmth than my own.

So what is a cold, eco-friendly mama to do? Make a list, that’s what.

When all I want to do is huddle under a heavy, warm blanket, there are things I need to do around my house. Wait. That’s number one on the list.

1. Get moving.

It’s no surprise that bears and badgers hibernate throughout the colder months, but since we humans don’t get that option, it makes a big difference in my warmth factor if I am washing dishes or folding laundry or cleaning the house. I know I need a little motivation to get my housework done and staying warm is definitely a motivator. Sometimes it takes more than moving around to keep warm though, which leads me to number two.

2. Wear more clothes.

I know, it seems like a no-brainer, but that extra tank that you can tuck in makes a big difference. Do you have any wool or thermal socks? How about a pair of slippers? I found a couple of great pairs on etsy that were hand-felted and super cute. I can’t go without my slippers in the winter, and actually keep a couple pairs around wherever I need them. Slippers are essential.

3. Turn off the lights, but leave the fan on.

We’re trying to conserve electricity and save on electric bills, but at the same time, keeping ceiling fans on low, operating on the winter setting (the forward part of the blade should be facing down), keeps the warmer air moving down where you can appreciate it, instead of allowing it to hover above where you can’t.

4. Cover the windows.

If you don’t have newer windows, replacing them is a huge heat saver. In the meanwhile, and even with new windows, use heavy or thermal curtains to block the cold. I just made a pair for my nursery with a layer of dark felt that not only keeps the room darker for sleeping but also blocks the cold from seeping in. Draw your windows at night and any time the sun is not shining. Here in Michigan, that is a large amount of the time. When the sun does shine, pull those babies open and let the natural warmth in!

As an added window and door insulator, you can use plastic sheeting or even bubble wrap to keep the winter winds out.

5. Eat or drink something hot.

My coffee pot works overtime in the winter. Not to mention the tea kettle. Sometimes, all it takes is a hot brew or mug of soup to warm a body up. Invest in a thermos or good travel mug that maintains its inner heat for a long time. I just picked one up on clearance that honestly keeps my drink significantly hot for almost 5 hours.

6. Close those doors.

If you’re not using a room, keep the door closed and the heat vent closed. Might as well direct that heat into more commonly used rooms! If you’re in a nice, warm room, keep that door shut while you’re there. Your room will stay warmer.

Lately, I’ve found myself using our first floor much less and spending most of my time on the second. Since we all know heat rises, I can keep the overall temp lower and still stay warm in my cloister. I can even take off my slippers once in a while!

7. Light the fire.

If you have a fireplace, consider yourself fortunate. If it’s a wood-burning fireplace, all the better because you don’t have to use any extra gas. Keep a fan running low near your fire to circulate that delicious heat throughout the rest of the house. If you’re like me and don’t have a fireplace, light a few candles. It’s amazing what a cozy atmosphere and a little fire does for one. And don’t we all need a little extra romance in our lives regardless of our relationship status? (Yes!)

Make sure candles are safely away from anything flammable, high enough that little hands can’t reach them, and always remember to snuff the flames when you are done.

8. Add some humidity.

In the summer we loathe the humidity, but in the winter, we crave it. Running a warm-mist humidifier not only helps your skin, but it aids in adding warmth as well. During the night is an especially good time to up the humidity of the air as we usually keep the temps much lower at night anyway. Many of us have humidifiers built right into our furnaces, so check to make sure that is working properly as well. This also leads to number nine.

9. Thermostat check.

It is very important to have a programmable thermostat. This ensures that the temperature is low when you’re gone or sleeping, and warm enough when you are home and awake. Plus, most thermostats remind you when you need to change the furnace filter, which keeps the air running cleaner and more efficiently.

There are definitely more tricks to staying warm in the cold climes. What are some ways you’ve gone about keeping the cool out during the cold months?

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. Read more from Anne, including her attempts to be frugally green, eat healthfully, raise her baby girl and color inside the lines on twitter or at her blog, a little bit crazy.

5 Responses to Keeping it Real…Warm
  1. Anita Prins
    January 26, 2009 | 7:34 pm

    Here’s a clever concoction of drink hot + some humidity…drink hot water. This is a hand-me-down tip, passed on for generations on my mother’s side of the family. Folks often look sideways at me when I request such a drink from my waitress, yet it’s a good body heater, skin moisturizer and winter warmer! Great insight, Anne. Thanks!

  2. Kerri Anne (
    January 26, 2009 | 10:19 pm

    It’s amazing to me how I can be literally shivering and then I have a spot of hot tea (because I’m British now, too), and I feel ten times better. And ten times warmer!

  3. Heather H
    January 27, 2009 | 2:24 pm

    great ideas anne!!

  4. ~G
    January 27, 2009 | 5:35 pm

    Great tips! Moving around DEFINITELY helps. That’s how I was keeping warm this weekend…laundry, laundry, laundry.

    My biggest splurge in the winter is my heated mattress pad. LOVE it! Of course, I don’t have one on my kid’s bed because I’m scared it will short out on them or something…so it’s a guilty pleasure. :P


  5. Shelly
    January 30, 2009 | 1:03 pm

    We vent the clothes drier inside in the winter with an old nylon covering the vent. It adds warmth, humidity, and sometimes April freshness.
    We also have radiator heat so we set metal pans on them and fill with water for more moisture.