Wednesday, December 21, 2011
TIPS FOR STAYING COZY AND WARM
I used to have a neighbor that always complained about the high cost of heating her house in the winter, but she was always dressed in shorts and light cotton blouses when she was at home. So the first tip is to dress for the weather. Duh! But you'd be surprised at how many people I see out dressed in shorts even in the winter. Don't automatically turn up the heat when you feel chilled, instead reach for a sweater. During the winter I wear corduroy or wool skirts, a light sweater with a bulkier sweater at hand if I feel cold. Under the sweater I wear a t-shirt or one of those silk longjohn shirts and I always wear tights even under pants, and boiled wool slippers. Tights are a good value. They keep you warm and they last forever. About two decades ago, I bought some expensive for the time (around $20) woolen ones and they still are doing duty. At about a dollar a year, that's a bargain! My son wears flannel lined jeans and hoodies. My latest little trick is to iron and fold my clothes the night before and place them near the radiator. It's quite a luxury to slip into toasty warm clothes in the morning.
Inside the house, I made little draft stoppers for all the double hung windows. Even with the newest and best construction, a lot of heat is lost through windows. Just put your hand by yours and see. To make the draft stoppers, just sew a cylinder the length of the window and fill with cheap white rice. Here's how the look:
Also hang thermal lined curtains. You can find the old fashioned pinch pleated ones at thrift stores without a big output of money. If you can't find any that you like, you can always sew them fairly inexpensively made from plain onsaburg fabric backed with outing flannel or you can buy the thermal backing to make nice simple curtains. Curtains are the easiest thing in the world to sew. They are basically just large rectangles (make them 1 1/2 - 2 times the width of your windows) with a channel sewn on the back to accommodate the curtain rod. Hint: I use that wide blanket edging that you can find in any notions department for the channel. A don't forget the door! By nature, doors are drafty, so we hang a long thermal curtain across ours and pull it shut during the night. We also roll a rug across the bottom. Or you could make one of those draft stoppers for that purpose too.
Go around and check your house for drafts. We discovered that we were getting quite a chill from our attic door. So we tacked a heavy piece of carpeting across the door on the inside and again another rug rolled up against the bottom. Shut off the registers to rooms that you don't use, such as guest rooms.
Don't overlook little ways to add warmth either. When you are finished using your oven, leave the door ajar. I check the forecast and do my baking on the coldest day of the week. Ovens generate heat! Ditto for your dryer. When you get older, you find that you use less and less of your house. My parents closed off the upper floor of their home by putting a false wall and a door at the stairs. On the rare occasions that they had overnight visitors, they used a small electric heater to warm the room. Why heat a living room that you never use? Do you only use your bedroom for sleeping? Then close the register up. Heat will travel to the room. We have one of those cute little electric fireplaces for our room, bought for $80 at Meijers. Just running it for an hour in the evening warms the room up.
Speaking of bedrooms, I dress the bed with flannel sheets, wool blankets, and a down blanket and top that with a quilt. Down blankets are a good investment although costly. I found some nice ones made by Woolrich at Target that didn't cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some. Shop around, the prices vary greatly. I purchased some nice heavy woolen blankets for my friend's son mission at the thrift stores, so I know you can find them. If they look a bit ratty, you can always sew new silk binding to the top. Or how about a cute calico from the scrap bag? I used to think the toastier the better for bedrooms, but have discovered that I actually sleep better in a cool room. Which is good, since our old house's upstairs is unheated.
That's another thing. Experiment with how much cold you can tolerate. Set the thermostat down a degree and see if you notice any difference. Once you get used to the temperature, turn it down another notch. Pretty soon you'll wonder how you ever tolerated all that heat!