Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Keeping The Thermostat Low

Brrr! My hardwood floors are cold on bare feet! I have activated the gas heat for a few bursts of warmth this fall, but I'm trying to keep my fingers off the thermostat as long as I can. This transition is more about habits than about temperatures. I thought I'd share a few of our cozy strategies for keeping the heat low.

1. Down comforters---our single greatest ally against chilly nighttime lows. I grew up in a bedroom with a broken heater, and layers of down kept us well-insulated even in January. My mom finds these at yard sales for under $5. I put a king-size down blanket on my son's twin bed and doubled it over for more warmth. You can also find them in "throw" size for the living room. If you are buying new, don't be fooled by "bargain deals" on blankets filled with more goose feathers than down. Look for 100% eiderdown. Despite what the label says, you can machine wash them (and I do every week or so to prevent dust mites). Air dry on the line, letting the sunshine plump the down, or give it a spin in the electric dryer with a tennis ball to do the same. Extra-cold climates can use a featherbed beneath the fitted sheet and a light down comforter on top.

2. Comfort clothing for home wear: fleece for the guys, cashmere sweaters and thick robes for me. Who wants to wear something scratchy just to stay warm? My guys change into thick fleece pants and layered t-shirts. During the day I might throw on a whisper light but insulating cashmere cardigan (used, of course!) over my outfit. In the evenings I wear a thin gown (those down comforters get too toasty for flannel!) with a robe for added warmth. A psychological trick--take your at-home wear as thin and normal as possible. When my husband wanted me to wear a ski hat to bed, I had to put my foot down. Washing the dishes in a bulky parka will only make you run for the thermostat.

3. Hot showers. We take our daily showers right before we put on pajamas. The brief shot of hot is then trapped by our nighttime wear, making that steamy feeling last quite a bit longer. It also promotes sleepytime nods.

4. Keep rooms light and bright. Okay, I haven't done the math on this one, but I'm pretty sure that skyhigh gas prices make reflected heat economical this season. In the summer I notice that the more lamps burning, the hotter the room gets. I use this to my advantage in the evenings. I can't stand a dimly lit room anyway.

5. Sip a hot toddy or simmering soup. This is what my son calls hot cocoa after watching the British cartoon Kipper. Coffee, tea, cocoa, or chicken soup--a warm mug in your hands is a nice treat.

6. Beauty treatments. I am a barefoot gal in the summers, but I trick myself into wearing socks around the house by making it a spa thing. I slather on the generic Eucerin and slip on a thin pair of cotton socks. My husband thinks this is the ultimate tension reliever when I remember to do his, too.

Remember, staying warm is as much about your habits as it is about the weather. Feel free to add your tips in the comments below!


Anonymous said...

Ok, forgive me if I'm wrong....but don't you live in the south?
These are all good tips, but when it gets to -20, there's nothing like the whole family cuddling up in front of the woodstove and reading a book together.
We eat lots and lots of soups in the cold months. Another tip is to heat only the rooms you spend time in. My grandma always used a blanket to block off other rooms that didn't have doors. And we have a friend who actually puts sheets of insulation inside her windows at night for extra warmth. Of course you take them down in the day so the sun can warm you up. Mentally if not physically. Just some thoughts from a gal on the cold, windy prairies, where it was nearly 80 today. Funny, I'm sure the calendar said it was November!

Meredith said...

Good tips! Yes, I live in the Upper South, where the temperatures are already dipping into the low 30's at night. We never/rarely get to -20, but we will have plenty of days with a windchill that low.

Mrs.Garcia said...

Meredith, Thank you for these helpful tips. My Family and I will give these tips that we do not do as of yet a try.

K said...

We're trying to avoid turning on the heat, too. I have this hideously ugly fleece zip-up thing I wear around the house. And I always wear my pink fleecy slippers (even in the summer). I bought some velvet curtains to help block the cold out of the living room, and I ordered flannel sheets for the bedroom.

I like your idea of showering at night. I always make myself late in the morning because I linger in the warm shower too long, not wanting to get out and face the cold.

Anonymous said...

I have been working on making window quilts for all of our windows using old blanket, fleece, and sheets. They seem to work very well, not real pretty but that's ok.

Also read somewhere to open the curtains on the south side of the house then on the side the sun is on and closed on the side it is not. It is suppose to trap the heat that way. I have been doing is the last couple of days seems to work.