Self-reliance starts in the home! Learn how to stay warm in winter and still save money on your utility bills using these clever, cheap and resourceful tips!
A post on how to save money on your utility bills might not seem like a real pertinent topic to begin the Self-Reliance Challenge with. But I think there’s no better place to start being self-reliant than in your home, especially in the middle of winter!
You all know by now how much I love to be warm. If I could, I’d have the heat cranked up all day, every day! My heating bill would be about a billion dollars a month, but I’d be warm and happy.
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I also know I’m not the only one — in fact, most people spend enormous amounts of money heating their homes during the winter. The same goes for electricity and all of the other utilities we use. Over time, all those moments you flicked the switch without thinking about it really add up, and you can find yourself having to spend more of your hard-earned money just to pay all the bills!
However, there are many small ways to save money on your heating bill each month that will drastically change your budget (emphasis on small, because I don’t know anybody who can just replace all their windows or blow in new insulation!). Being more self-reliant and depending less on energy usage will save money over the long run, as well as decrease your carbon footprint and start you on your way toward financial freedom and self-sufficiency.
How to Stay Warm in Winter & Save Money
Shelter is one of the most important things we need to live a good life, and so what better place to start becoming self-reliant? Learn how to stay warm in winter and still save money on your utility bills by using these clever, cheap and resourceful tips!
1 // Use Your Fireplace or Wood stove
If you are lucky enough to have a wood stove or a wood-burning fireplace, then you should use it! A fireplace can heat your home up exponentially, and in many cases firewood can be gotten very cheaply or even for free. It takes a little more work and planning (we usually start cutting our wood supply in early summer), but there is no better way to stay warm and save money on your heating bill!
2 // Close the doors to unused rooms
Don’t heat rooms that you don’t use! I keep the doors closed in the laundry room and the guest room, although you do want to keep the furnace vents open (here’s an article about why, sent to me by my friend Aimee of The EcoFeminist). Overall though, this will keep the rooms you live in much warmer!
3 // Use thermal curtains or honeycomb blinds
Thick, thermal curtains (I like these ones) and honeycomb cellular blinds act as insulators at your windows, which are some of the most drafty parts of a house. Closing them each evening will help prevent heat loss as your house naturally cools at night.
4 // Block door drafts
Even in new houses, exterior doors let in a lot of cold air! You can install a weather strip along the bottom, or just roll up an old blanket or towel and press it against the door. If your house and door are very old and drafty, then you might want to tack a blanket or thermal curtain over the entire door frame, and just move it aside when you go in and out.
5 // Caulk and seal windows
Like I said before, windows are one of the draftiest places in our homes! The numbers are kind of shocking — heat lost through windows accounts for 10 to 25 percent of your overall heating bill. The heat escapes through thermal conduction, and one of the easier ways you can halt that process is by creating a pocket of insulating trapped air. Simply stretch and attach clear plastic across the inside of your window frame. You can buy window insulating kits to do this, or you can just wing it with a shower curtain and heavy duty tape. Either way, this will go a huge way to keeping you warmer!
You should also caulk the edges of the windows to more tightly seal gaps around the frame. If traditional caulking seems too intimidating, you can use press-in-place rope caulk, which is cheap, mess-free, easy to use and will still get the job done.
6 // Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan
Warm air will immediately rise to the ceiling, so pushing it back down is an absolute must! Turn your ceiling fan on to its lowest setting, and make sure it’s moving in a clockwise direction to push the warm air back down (in case you’re unsure, most ceiling fans have a switch somewhere on their motor housing or near the base of the shaft that will reverse their direction).
7 // Eat warm meals and drink tea
Increasing your core body temperature is one of the quickest and easiest ways to keep you warm. Drinking warm coffee or tea, or eating piping hot bowls of soup, will warm you up from the inside out. As an added plus, boiling water for tea or simmering a pot of soup will raise the temperature in the house a little bit, too.
8 // Use Seasonal Bedding
One of my favorite fall rituals is the annual hauling out of my thick, goose-down comforter. Switching to warmer blankets and flannel or microfiber sheets during the winter will keep you warm when you sleep. Adding thinner fleece blankets on top of thicker comforters will make you even warmer, by trapping heat in the air pockets of the fluffier blanket and preventing conductive heat loss, as will adding fleece blankets under your fitted sheet. All that comfy bedding is also a great reason to turn your thermostat down at night, saving energy and making sure you don’t get too warm!
9 // Layer your clothes
I know this isn’t innovative, but it is good common sense. Dress in layers during the winter, even if you’re staying inside. Start with an undershirt made of natural fibers (silk, hemp and bamboo are great at trapping heat close to your skin) and top it all off with fleece or wool for maximum warmth. Make sure to wear thick socks, and even a hat if you need to. Any and all exposed skin will cool your core body temperature, so bundle up!
10 // Use thick rugs on your floors
Are you sensing a theme here? Adding a nice, big area rug on your hardwood, laminate or vinyl flooring will act as an insulating layer, keeping cold air from drifting up from your basement or crawlspace. Putting a rug pad under it will increase the insulation, as will layering a smaller rug on top of a bigger one.
11 // Close your fireplace flue
When you’re not heating up your home with your fireplace, make sure that the flue is closed tight. You don’t want all that precious heat going up and out the chimney.
12 // Use a hot water bottle (or rocks!)
Fill a hot water bottle up with boiling water about 20 minutes before you get into bed and tuck it under your covers. It will heat up your bed into a luxurious nest of warmth and happiness. You can do the same thing with large, flat rocks, bricks, or even a pizza stone. Heat them in the oven or on top of the wood stove, wrap them up in towels and pop them into bed (or under your feet if you’re working at a desk or watching TV)!
13 // Go on a brisk walk
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, heading outside for a quick walk will get you moving, improve your blood circulation, increase the temperature of your muscles and joints, and increase your core body temperature.
14 // Rearrange your furniture
Make sure your couch is sitting against an interior wall, or floating more toward the center of the room if you’re able. Do the same with any chairs and beds. Moving bookcases or wardrobes against exterior walls will act as a sort of buffer or insulator to the room. And make sure, above all else, that no heating vents are blocked!
15 // Cuddle all the cats (and dogs)
They don’t call them heater cats for nothing! When you’re relaxing on the couch after a long day, gather your pets into your lap for a good cuddle. Rowan, our Great Pyrenees pup, loves to lay against (or on) us, and warms us up better than almost anything. The same goes for our purrpot kittens. Kids and spouses can do essentially the same thing, although they’re not as fluffy. Snuggle time!
These simple tips will go a long way in helping to keep you warm and save you money in the long run, too! Do you have any inexpensive and simple tips on how to keep warm in the winter that I missed? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
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This post is part of a Self-Reliance Challenge organized by a group of bloggers and websites. The challenge is designed as a way to share ideas for how to increase your self-reliance and live a more abundant lifestyle.