by C.D. Mohatta
October 29, 2007
A few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned that she and her husband try each year to make it until Thanksgiving before turning on the heat in their home for the first time. She said, "It gives us yet another thing to be thankful for." I was shocked they can go so late in the season without turning on the heat even once! But I was also inspired by her story. I would like to match them this year.
You see, you can insulate like crazy, close off rooms you don’t use, and give your furnace a tune-up, but these things won’t make you more tolerant of the cold before the furnace comes on. So here are a few off the wall strategies for feeling more comfortable with less heat.
You’ve heard you should dress appropriately, but what is dressing appropriately? A lot of people don’t know. Start by layering. Several thin layers of long sleeved shirts, or two light or medium shirts plus a jacket or sweater will make you much more comfortable than just one or two thick layers. The reason for this is, it is actually the air in the fibers of sweaters and between the shirts that act as a barrier and keeps you warm. For this reason, several layers of clothes are warmer than fewer ones, much like double and triple pane windows are warmer than one thick piece of glass.
This is a trick I learned from a professor born in Germany. She showed me that when her socks wore out she’d cut off the feet and put the cuffs on her wrists in winter. This and a scarf around the neck is like wearing an additional sweater but without the bulk of it. The reason is, our blood passes close to the surface of our skin in these places. These days I knit pretty fingerless mitts or cuffs instead, and sometimes wear an old fashioned Dicky under a button-up shirt.
Multiple pairs of socks and / or extra warm slippers are also a must for staying warm in the home. Open-backed or acrylic slippers are not nearly as warm as woolen felted ones.
One year we discovered that if in the evenings we put on our coat and walked around the block for only ten minutes, that when we went indoors we’d be comfortable and warm for four or five hours. Metabolism is key in staying warm, which is why some people feel the cold much more than others, so stay active!
When my mother was growing up on a farm, they used to put bricks in the bottom of the oven, which would heat while cooking supper, and then after supper they’d be taken out, wrapped in towels, and put at the foot of the beds under the covers to keep the bed warm all night. These days you can use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to warm your bed or hold a heating pad or hot water bottle in your lap with a throw blanket over it while you are watching evening television.
With a little imagination you can keep warm in other ways: washing dishes by hand, drinking hot tea, having a cat or small dog in your lap, taking a hot bath. And let us not forget that two can stay warmer in bed than one!
To sum up the article, maybe your Mom or Grandma taught you already:
- Dress in Layers
- Cover Neck and Wrists
- Extra Warm Feet
- Stay Active
- Use a Bed Warmer
- Two Keep Warmer Than One
- Be Creative in the Kitchen
And to help you out with that last entry, don't miss "50 Ways Chocolate Can Keep You Warm".
Picture above from "Vocational Guidance for Girls, by Marguerite Stockman Dickson", at Project Gutenberg eBooks