The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects temperatures to be colder this winter than last year with home heating costs as high as $2,494.
What constitutes winter varies widely in the U.S., but most people experience a drop in the inside temperature of their home (some a huge drop) and utilize supplemental heating to keep the inside warm. Warm being a relative term.
Winter heating requires resources like oil, natural gas, and electricity which generate greenhouse gases and pollution. Using less is good for our planet and our wallets.
A good starting point is to accept that it is cold and we probably need to dress differently in the winter, yes even when we’re inside. Instead of heating our homes and offices to be warm enough in the winter to walk around wearing a short-sleeved cotton t-shirt, we can turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater.
Although there isn’t a consensus on how much body heat is lost through our heads, covering it up, even inside helps one stay warm. Most everyone probably has a camping beanie hidden in the back of a drawer. Sometimes I just put on a baseball cap and that helps too.
Turtles, Gaiters and Scarves
If my neck is warm I feel warmer in general. Turtleneck shirts and sweaters keep one’s neck warm but to me they feel claustrophobic. One of my solutions is to wear a neck gaiter which is a fabric tube you pull over your head. An alternate solution that doesn’t mess up one’s hair is to wrap a scarf around one’s neck.
Layers are Good
In the old days, people wore long underwear to stay warm during winter months. Now we have base layers. Although the one-piece union suit style is still available, two pieces are more flexible. Base layers are made of cotton, wool, silk, or polyester and come in a wide variety of styles including those that work under business attire.
Layering clothes is an effective and flexible technique for staying warm outdoors and in. Put on or take off a sweater, flannel shirt, fleece jacket, or shawl as needed.
Even when the house is relatively warm, my hands will often feel cold. I’ve thought about wearing mittens or gloves but they are not functional for indoor activities.
Maybe it’s the season or that I am a Charles Dickens fan, but recently I thought of fingerless gloves. Bob Cratchit, a character in a Christmas Carol, wore fingerless gloves while sitting on his stool and toiling away as a clerk in the freezing office of Mr. Scrooge. As luck would have it, I found a pair of fingerless mittens (fingerless gloves have individual finger holes) in a local shop made by a local artisan.
Once the palms of my hands warm up so do my fingers, and I can still type and do other things around the house. I just wish I had thought of this back in the days when I used to work in freezing office buildings.
When my feet are warm, I am more apt to feel warm all over. Although my kids seem to be able to go barefoot in the house year round, I utilize footwear (heavy socks, slippers, or shoes).
Throw It On
When we are sedentary our circulation slows down and we may feel cold. Instead of turning up the heat, keep a fleece or wool throw or blanket handy at home and / or the office. Sometimes I put a throw over my lap while sitting at my desk or toss one on my bed at night as an extra layer. Beats turning the heat up.
Periodically getting up and walking around ramps up circulation which warms the whole body. 5 or 10 minutes make a big difference. At work, walk around while listening to a conference call on a cell phone or walk down the hall to talk to a colleague instead of sending an email or text message. At home, walk around during TV commercials, back and forth tidying up, or read the news on an e-reader, smartphone, or tablet.
Challenge yourself to see how creative you can be to stay warm and turn your thermostat down or even off.
Resources: U.S. Energy Information Administration