7 Ways to Stay Warm Indoors in the Winter and Be Green

U.S. Winter Heating Degree Days - U.S. EIAStay warm indoors during the winter, be green, and save money. Being mindful of what we wear and do inside can help keep us warm while reducing heating costs.

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.

It’s Winter

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.

Hats On

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.

Warm Hands

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.

Author's Indoor Warm Clothing Collection - hat, neck gaiter, scarf, base layer, fingerless mittens, fleece throwMaybe 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.

Toasty Toes

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.

Get Moving

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

Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

2 thoughts on “7 Ways to Stay Warm Indoors in the Winter and Be Green”

  1. Getting up and moving about also is good exercise! Good for weight and health…
    I’ve also heard that a lot of body heat is lost through breathing in cold air, this is a significant component of our “base metabolic rate”; the number of calories we burn in a day just by being alive. So even a small drop in air temperature causes more calories to be burned! Not so good if one is starving, but most folks living in the US would love the idea of breathing out calories! 🙂

  2. Fortunately I am able to wear wool sweaters and find it far warmer than flannel, fleece, or even thermal underwear. I prefer not to have to wear multiple layers to keep warm but I do live in Sourthern California so am not exposed to frigid weather conditions. Through the years I have invested in cashmer sweaters (Land’s End, L.L. Bean), a good value as they do last from year to year (do have to be dry cleaned which is an added expense).

    I agree that having your neck warm makes such a difference. In the past year or so I have had fun kniting several scarfs which I have sold at my P.E.O. winter Make, Bake and Grow event. This year I have a beautiful blue fleece one to sell.

    When walking for any distance in weather in the 40’s (I live in Southern California so no friged weather) and not liking hats, I wear a fleece band that outlines my face and covers my ears. The band fits in my jacket pocket and is not bulky.

    Never had a problem with chilly hands in the house but like the idea of the fingerless mittens.

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