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How To Stay Warm This Winter On A Budget

Updated on June 11, 2013

Winter Wonderland - Beautiful To Look At But Not Much Fun With Heating Costs Rising

My mountains after 24 hours of snow - Can someone remind me I live in the Med please !
My mountains after 24 hours of snow - Can someone remind me I live in the Med please !

Have No Fear - It Is Possible To Keep Warm On A Budget

Now that winter has arrived in many places throughout the world, and with the cost of keeping warm ever spiralling upwards, many of us will be worrying about how we are going to stay warm and still meet the cost of our winter heating bills.

As always, the very old and the very young are most at risk and vulnerable when the temperatures drop. But do not despair, there are ways to keep warm whilst keeping those heating bills down to a manageable amount, and I sincerely hope that the ideas here will help you stay cosy throughout the winter months.

External Roll Down Blinds - Persianas

If you don´t have these, Heavy or thermal curtains or blinds inside the house will do the same job.
If you don´t have these, Heavy or thermal curtains or blinds inside the house will do the same job.

No No No I´m Not Going Anywhere !

by imagerymajestic
by imagerymajestic

Keeping The Heat In

Check For Draughts From Badly Fitting Doors And Windows

It is worth doing a quick check around your home before winter really sets in to see where heat may be escaping or draughts entering.

Check around door and window frames, particularly if they are wooden, see if they are properly sealed when closed. If not, buy and fix some self adhesive draught excluder tape all around the inside of the frames. It only takes minutes, but you will feel the benefit.

To stop draughts entering under the door, you can either buy or make your own draught excluder. As a last resort, even old towels can be rolled up and tied with string, they do the job just as well as anything else. Sticking a few self adhesive hooks onto the bottom of the door and fastening your draught excluder to these will make sure it´s where it should be at all times.

If you don´t have double glazing, then sheets of clear plastic wrap can be fastened over your windows with double sided adhesive tape. It may not look great, but it will help to keep the heat inside the house where it´s needed.

Alternatively you may wish to buy insulating blinds or curtains for the windows. Either for inside or outside use. I live in the Mediterranean but don´t be fooled into thinking it´s permanently warm here, far from it, and we do get sever winters with snow. Outside roller blinds ( persianas) are standard here on almost all houses , and I do keep mine down or half down during the summer to keep the heat out, and during the winter to keep the heat in unless the sun is shining on them. Even with double glazed windows. Every little helps.

Chuck Out The Old Boiler And Get In A Hot New Model !

Steady boy´s, I am referring to the heating and hot water boiler, not the missus !!

Heating boilers in general have a life span of about 10 to 15 years. If yours is older than this, it may still function, but is most likely far less efficient ( therefore costing more to run) than a new gas condensing boiler. Gas being my choice of fuel as research tells me that it is around a third cheaper than electricity. Whilst oil fired heating systems are probably dearer still, and with oil getting scarcer by the day, prices only have one way to go and that is UP.

So if you have the funds to change your old boiler for a new one go for it and quick, it will save you money in the long run.

Have You Got Enough Up Top ?

Insulation in the loft that is. If not maybe you can get a grant from your local council to add more. If this is not possible then it´s still worth the outlay as research suggests that badly insulated, or un- insulated lofts cost you a packet as heat disappears through the roof. With the right depth of insulation you could be making a saving of 15% to 20 % on your present winter heating bills. Your loft will need between 270mm to 300mm depth of insulation, depending on the type used.

Loft insulation is another easy D.I.Y. project, well once you have the rolls through the loft hatch that is. It´s vital that you wear protective gear though due to the fibreglass present in most loft insulation material. Goggles, gloves and overall´s are a must, as is a protective face mask to protect your eyes and stop you from inhaling fibreglass particles and dust. I would bind tape around the cuffs and bottom of the trouser legs too, to stop the itchy fibres getting in and onto your skin.

Rug Up

It seems that recently it has become fashionable to rip out the wall to wall fitted carpeting and go for the stripped flooring look or even tiles..personally I think this is utter madness in places like the UK which can get very sever winters, and only marginally better summers, but this is just my own opinion.

Here in the Med all house´s have tiled or marble or wooden flooring installed when they are built. Great in the hot summer months, but very cold and uncomfortable in the winter.

To overcome this freezing floor problem and help to conserve the heat you just have to lay as many rugs as possible on your floors during winter months to have any hope at all of making and keeping your house warm. So rug up and enjoy the benefits.

( Be sure to put some anti slip fabric under the mats as it can be dangerous without)

No Central Heating Or Can´t Afford To Have It On All Day And Night

Heating in the room you use most often is essential in the winter. If you don´t have central heating or cannot afford to have it on all day, or think it a waste to heat the whole house when you are only using part of it, then your only option is to turn off radiators in the rooms you are not using or invest in some other form of space heating, be it a calor gas portable heater, or an electric oil filled radiator, or an oscillating halogen heater ( said to be a quicker and more efficient method of heating a room) Any of these solutions will give you instant controllable heat when and where you need it. Choosing a smaller room to heat this way in the winter will save on costs too.

Check out different energy providing companies to see who is offering the best deals. Some companies offer discounts to pensioners who sign up for a fixed rate monthly direct debit deal. Even if this is not an option for you, a fixed amount payment per month will save you from worrying about meeting your fuel bill costs during the winter .

Make sure you wear lots of layers to keep in your body heat. Invest in a heated throw, and keep having those hot and comforting drinks , not alcohol though as this can be dangerous in cold weather because it can actually rapidly cool the core body temperature even if we are feeling a rosy glow from drinking it.

Eat warming and energy giving foods at regular intervals ( more on the benefits of this later)

Buy an electric blanket or hot water bottle and a hi tog rated quilt for the bed, plus flannelette sheets, which are much more cosy than cotton in the winter. Don´t forget your bed socks and warm pj´s or nightwear. It´s also a good idea to put a thermal mattress topper on your bed as this will help to warm it up quickly and keep it warm once you are tucked up for the night.

Take some exercise every day. Going for a brisk walk costs nothing and does help to warm you up and will also boost your mood, which can be low in the gloomy winter months. If it´s just too cold or wet or slippy to go out, then put on the radio or a CD and get your groove on, jigging about in your house, or even a good cleaning session will all help warm you up, and the dancing may just make you smile or even laugh at yourself !!

If you are a stay at home mum or a pensioner, or out of work, why not join a club ( free heating and company) or organise a rota for visiting friends and vice versa, so you can spend time in the warm or spread the costs of heating between you ( no need to have your heating on whilst out of the house)

Solid Fuel Burners

If you have one of these in your home, always be on the look out for free fuel.

Rubbish skips ( Dumpsters) walks on the beach , trips out into the countryside, and visits to your builders merchant ( broken wooden pallets) or wooden pallet making company can all provide you with free wood.

I have a friend who always carries a petrol chainsaw in his truck , and he collects free wood wherever he goes. Tree branches after a storm, or trees he has felled or trimmed for neighbours in return for the wood, washed up flotsam on the beach, thrown away old wooden windows, the list goes on and on and he never has to buy a thing to keep his wood burning stove going in the winter.

Wrap Up Well And Go For A Brisk Walk When You Can

"Man And His Dog In The Snow" by Tina Phillips
"Man And His Dog In The Snow" by Tina Phillips

Keeping Your Body Warm - Layer Up

You may feel like Heidi going up the mountain to grand fathers house, but who cares if it stops you freezing to death ? Lots of layers will keep you warmer than one big chunky item. layering your clothes helps to trap your body heat. Light layers are better than tight heavy ones, as these are more effective at keeping this vital heat from escaping.

Now vests may not have a whole lot of sex appeal, but they do help to keep you warm. As do thermal sweaters and body warmers. And there´s nothing more comforting than a nice snuggly shawl or blanket to wrap round you, if it´s an electrically heated one, even better. It is now possible to buy heated throws and blankets and shawl/lap covers as well as foot warmers, these don´t use a lot of electricity, but do keep you toasty warm.

It´s also true that if you keep your extremities warm, you will automatically feel warmer all over. Hands feet and head should all be protected in the cold, as they will lose your precious body heat quickly, leaving you shivering and miserable.

keeping warm in winter is equally about keeping your body heat in, and the cold out.

Winter - Warming Foods And Drink

Most of us will find we crave certain foods in the winter, this is our bodies way of telling us we need to eat in order to stay warm. As certain foods break down in our systems they release energy and this energy helps keep us warm.

Soups and stews and casseroles are all packed with the goodness we need at this time of year when they include lots of vegetables and pulses ( dried beans). Pulses and whole grain foods contain complex carbohydrates and when these break down they fire your body with the energy needed to keep warm.

Breakfast on porridge when the temperatures dip. It´s good for your heart, and being a whole grain product will heat you from within. I love my porridge with a good dollop of Greek yoghurt and a swirl of honey on the top. OK Greek yoghurt may be fattening, but a good brisk walk later in the day will take care of that if you are concerned about weight gain.

Or why not opt for a lovely thick slice of whole grain toast spread with honey ? Honey is really good for you, even more so in the winter as it contains antioxidants with powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties, very beneficial with everyone around you coughing and sneezing !! Add a glass of orange juice to the mix for your daily shot of Vitamin C and you will really have a great and healthy start to the day.

Spicy foods will also help to generate body heat, but don´t go too mad because if they cause you to sweat this will quickly cool you down. Sweating is the body´s way of getting rid of excess core heat. That´s the whole reason spicy foods are eaten in very hot countries like India and Thailand.

Warming Drinks

Are also vital in the cooler months. Herbal and fruit teas, tea and coffee in moderation, or just plain boiled water with maybe a slice of lemon will all help to warm you up.

Try a cup of ginger tea at least once per day. Ginger root is naturally warming,helps to fight off cold and flu symptoms. Lowers LDL ( bad) cholesterol in the body. Aids digestion and boosts your immune system too. Simply peel a small section of root and then grate into a mug. Pour on hot water and leave to brew for a few moments before drinking.

Cinnamon is also naturally warming and this can be sprinkled onto many foods and drinks. Like Ginger root, Cinnamon also helps to lower LDL cholesterol, and has anti clotting and anti bacterial properties. ( caution is advised if you are taking medication for diabetes or suffering from a hormone sensitive disease or taking certain blood thinning medications)

Many people believe a drop of Brandy or a nip of Whisky will help them combat the cold but this is a fallacy and can actually do you more harm than good, especially if you take more than a drop. Alcohol can very quickly lower your core body temperature whilst fooling you into thinking it is actually warming you. This is because it sends blood to the surface of the skin giving you a rosy glow and the feeling of warmth, when it should be sending it to your vital organs instead. Drinking alcohol during cold weather is putting you at risk of hypothermia, and this can be fatal.


I am bac2basics and write on many different topics here on

As well as money saving hints and tips for frugal living, I also write recipes for the time short and thrifty cook. Travel guides and some of my own happy holiday memories. Life and in particular the wildlife in Valencia Spain. My recollections of living in a haunted pub and visits from loved one´s in spirit. Health problems and cures. Product recommendations, and the odd poem or two . I really just write about whatever takes my fancy at the time.

Please feel free to dip into some of my other topics as you may be pleasantly surprised by what you encounter :)

The Last Word

I hope this hub has given you all some pointers on how to stay warm this winter on a tight budget.

I once knew a lovely, and very sweet old Gentleman who died from hypothermia because he didn´t know how to look after himself, and was frightened to put on his gas fire in case he couldn´t afford the bills. I would hate for this to happen to anyone else.

As My Mum used to say," If you can´t pay a bill , they can´t hang you for it". So no matter what , keep warm this winter and keep well.

Your comments are always really appreciated , so please do feel free to leave some. Thank you for reading.

Please Take A Moment To Answer This Question

In view of spiralling fuel costs are you worried about keeping warm enough this winter and being able to pay your bills?

See results


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    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Spain

      Hi Marie.

      I'm so pleased to hear you stay nice and warm in the winter, so many people these days are unable to keep their homes sufficiently warm. I like your tips very much. Thank you for shearing them :)

    • profile image

      marie macneil 

      5 years ago

      my entire house is carpeted even the kitchen. I am never cold in my house. In the winter I hang tapestry all over my walls and remove it in the summer. As far as hardwood floors, I do not believe in them. being a senior if I fall on the carpet my injuries would not be life threatening or broken bones happening. I know many seniors that have fallen and broken their hips by falling on hardwood floors. My bed is not high and is a lot safer. these are just some tips on how to be comfortable in the winter.

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Stacey. No heating in Calgary , are they mad ? Make sure to take a heated throw and foot warmer with you, they are light to carry and will help. Have a nice time seeing your sister though :)

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Alli. This is another great idea that I wouldn´t have thought of as never owned a dryer, I tend to dry my things round radiators or in front of the log burner in the winter rather than have 2 expensive heat sources pushing my electricity bills up, but still a great idea for those who do use one. Thanks for sharing.

    • AlliOop profile image


      6 years ago

      One technique my husband and I have been using for years is using the dryer for extra heat. Pull the vent hose into the house, cover it with a sheer stocking to catch any lint that escapes the filter and every time you dry a load of clothes you get a burst of warm air in the house.

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Nell. Great to hear from you. I have to admit that the thought of a british winter is really putting me off returning and I am worried already about keeping warm when I do have to come back. Many thanks for answering the google question I will have a look right now, honestly I have been battling with it for days and getting nowhere, mind you that´s nothing new, I elected to get my electricity bill on-line and can´t get that to work either LOL, oh well I can live in ignorant bliss having the electric heater on with no idea how much is flying out of my bank account until I update the bank book LOL. Hope you are managing to keep warmer this winter Nell, it´s too long a winter to be miserable throughout.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Great tips and ideas anne, I didn't realise that you got snow there, but you are high up so it does make sense, but even a bit chillier can be horrible when its not easy to heat the house, I have been freezing some winters because I was being careful with the electric and gas, but as you said they can't hang ya for it! lol! hope everythings okay, and I answered your question about google on my hub, okay? thanks nell

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Shai77. Thank you for your great comment. Here in Spain builders need to be taking note and changing the way they build houses as the climate is changing and apart from now installing double glazed windows as standard there is no cavity wall insulation or even cavity walling, no damp-proof course or loft insulation, and with the cold tiled floors and single skinned walls Spanish houses are really difficult and expensive to heat and bad for the environment too.

    • shai77 profile image


      6 years ago

      Good advice and very useful. it's true, sometimes people who live in more temperate climates end up paying more than they have to because they don't think about insulation as much. That can lead to big energy wastes without realizing it to keep things warm when a cold spell goes through. Great info, voted useful.

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi again RRose. Yes me too, see we have a lot in common. I also have a cat well he´s not actually mine, he is just a foster cat until friends who went back to the Uk find a home with a garden he can go to, but looks like he´s going to be here for quite some time yet, and he does keep my feet warm LOL :)

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 

      6 years ago from South of France

      I'm a big fan of thermal underwear - not the sexiest of looks admittedly but it really does work. And a snuggly cat helps, too!

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Tilly mint. Many thanks once again for taking the time to read and comment, you are a good un as we would say in Nothern England. Would you believe I am worried about keeping warm or rather the cost of it when I move back there, and I haven´t even sold my house in Spain yet. Actually that was what prompted me to write this hub. It´s a huge worry for so many people and it´s quite true about the old gentleman dying from hyperthermia. He was a lovely lovely man , but despite my best efforts he turned his heating off as soon as I left his house and didn´t use the electric blanket I gave him , for fear of the cost of his bills. It cost him his life and made me both sad and angry that anyone should pass away like that when the energy companies are making an absolute fortune year in and year out.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Winter is matter where you live when colder weather hits you need to be warm and you've some great suggestions, from top to bottom ;) from attics to floors. Your little touches of humor make a serious subject more palatable.

      Voted up, useful, funny, and interesting.

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Effer, so good to hear from you , especially after Sandy, are you OK love ?

      To answer your question, the usual ( if there is such a word when it comes to weather) during a Spanish winter is a mixed bag really. Some periods of intense rain, this can last up to 4 or 5 days without a stop and is known as the Gota Fria ( cold drops) Some very very cold periods, when it may or may not snow, but usually does at my altitude. And then some balmy spring like days, with the temperatures getting into the 80´s or higher. The great thing about here is that you can always feel heat from the sun ( if you can get shelter from the wind, which we get quite a lot of) and it´s rare for it not to be shining most days.

      Winters do vary a huge amount though. We had one a few years back where it was cold wet and miserable from the end of August until at least May, and yet last year apart from freezing temps during the whole of February, it was glorious. To sum it up, sometimes my water pipes freeze and sometimes they don´t.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I APOLOGIZE "ba2basics!!".....I commented on one of Bruces hubs just before yours....he's born2care..........I get confused very easily!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      born2care......How cold does it get in Spain? Your tips are great! I like your hubs and I was curious when I saw this title. I'm a lifelong New Yorker.....western NY...right along Lake Erie.....When you speak of winter and keeping warm, you speak our language!...It's a required education around here! Thanks, born....very interesting!

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi again Nettle..Phew thank goodness you didn´t take offence. I´ll hold you to that invite one of these days my friend, but with my aversion to being cold, it will have to be in summertime. Actually I was in Preston only a few weeks ago and it was quite pleasant, mind you proper winter had not arrived then.

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Billy. I also have a wood burning stove, but my house wasn´t really built for living in during the winter. Many of the house´s out in the countryside in Spain are used very rarely by the Spanish and were only really built for occasional use during the summer. Of course I have added double glazing, but with tiled floors and open plan design it is hard and sometimes costly to keep warm on my meager income. However I always manage somehow because good food, warmth and the ability to meet my bills are important to me. You can cut corners on somethings, but not these essentials. Thanks for liking my hub and also taking the trouble to comment...Both of you, I appreciate it very much :)

    • Nettlemere profile image


      6 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      No - rest assured not struck off the card list, but I shall make a mental note to only invite you round to my house in what passes for summer in this neck of the woods!

    • bac2basics profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Nettlemere. I hate being cold, one of the reasons for moving to Spain. Having said that, my house is not really designed for winter, and it does happen here, so I have to be canny in order to stay warm. Actually the past 2 winters I have camped in my caravan as it costs so much less to heat that than it does the house. Bit nippy when I need to use the outside kitchen or bathroom though..but hey, at least the sun shines most days :) As for you ..stop being tight and put the blooming heating on you skinflint ha ha ha, it´s brass monkeys in Lancashire and look what happens to them !! ( hope you have a sense of humour and I don´t get struck off the Christmas card list)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions my friend. We are winterized and ready; we have one woodstove that heats the entire house; we keep unused rooms shut off, and we are cozy. You have a great list of practical suggestions here.

    • Nettlemere profile image


      6 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Very timely and useful hub - I'm a world class stingey person when it comes to putting the heating on. Sometimes I'll wear a woolly hat indoors to avoid it!


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