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Cheap Heat: Stay Warm This Winter for Less

Now that it’s starting to get chilly (or already has, depending on where you live), it’s time to switch gears, pull out the extra blankets, and figure out how to keep your money from flying away with the wind this winter. When it’s cold outside, the cost of staying comfy often starts to heat up. Make your home a little cozier with just a little bit of effort and not a lot of dough. 

1. First and foremost, make sure your house isn’t inviting in the chill. Make the time (and maybe a small monetary investment) to ensure windows and doors are sealed properly. You can buy weather stripping at any hardware store. Or, you can roll towels to put under the doors to kill the draft (hey, nobody said being thrifty was fashionable all the time).

2. Become a furnace. Most body heat escapes from your head. So, a hat can make a huge difference. Technically, another place heat easily escapes is your thighs. Putting an extra blanket on your lap can be really helpful too, or you can wear Long Johns under your jeans if you can stand them. There is no particular study to prove my own personal theory, but being a woman, I know that if my feet get cold, the rest of me follows suit. Socks are a quick fix for this. I always carry an extra pair in my purse in case I need to double up.

3. If you don’t have carpet, buy some throw rugs. There is no faster way for your tootsies to become popsicles than to walk on a cold floor (even if you follow the sock rule).

4. Buy an electric blanket. Most of us are especially cold while cuddled up on the couch trying to get through our favorite weekly sitcom. Why? Because we are doing nothing—or nothing productive anyway. So, instead of cranking up the heat in the whole house, just make yourself warmer in the places you are the least active, and most cold.

4. Cook more. This will help with your take-out food expenses and the heat in a working kitchen goes a long way to keep you toasty.

5. Close all the doors in the house to rooms you seldom use. If your office is just for storage, let the boxes and file cabinets get frostbite and keep the heat where you need it most. 

6. Use space heaters. If you buy energy efficient ones, you’ll save money on your central heating bill. Space heaters are particularly good for areas like under your desk to keep your lower body warm, or in a bathroom where you don’t need the heat pumping in full-time when you only occupy it occasionally.

7. A quick heat-me-up can do the trick. My blow dryer is my best friend in the winter. If I’m really cold, I use it for about 30 seconds to warm up my arms, head, or whatever is icy. A lot of times you waste your own body’s energy trying to get warm. It’s much easier to stay warm.

8. Let Mother Nature help. If the sun is out, let it in. Open the blinds or curtains on the side of the house the sun rises on (and then remember to close them later). You’d be surprised how much it can actually heat up through the windows. And if everything is sealed properly, the house should hold it well.

9. Don’t use your gas fireplace. Last winter I had a repairman come to fix my stove while my gas fireplace was blazing. He told me it’s one of the quickest ways to a raging gas bill with the least amount of effectiveness. Who knew? You are basically paying for the “pretty” on that one.

10. Find a buddy. Grab your guy, girl, or cat. Anything warm blooded to cuddle with is an almost instant way to stop the shivers. And since you already have them, it might very well be the cheapest and most fun way too!

By Amy B. Scher for Wisebread