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Low Cost Ways to Keep Warm in Winter

Updated on February 5, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Generally, when you read an article about lowering heating costs you will read about sealing cracks, adding insulation, or perhaps updating your heater. Those are all important ways to lower your energy costs. They are expensive, however, and there are simple things that can be done to achieve the same purpose.

Generations of humans have lived through icy winters without the benefit of a thermostat. Like so many old fashioned skills, people have forgotten how to keep warm in the winter time. There are many strategies for beating the chill of winter.

And most of them cost very little.

Dress in Layers

We have become a society that likes to wear the same things both summer and winter. We have lost touch with the seasons and the natural cycles of the earth.

Dressing in several layers will keep your body heat in and with the right clothing you don't have to look like the snow-suited kid in A Christmas Story to do it.

Your first layer should be a lightweight material that doesn't trap perspiration from your skin. It is the wicking layer. Rather than absorbing any sweat that occurs and leaving you feeling chilled and clammy, this layer should wick the moisture away from your skin leaving it dry. Look for items made from silk, wool, or even man-made materials designed specifically as a first layer.

Your second layer is the insulation layer. It is the part that will hold in the heat and hold out the cold. A soft wool sweater or a polar fleece top will trap air between the insulation layer and the wicking layer and help to keep you warm.

If you go out then you will want an outer, or shell layer, to protect you from the elements. Other wise you may only need the two previous layers.

If it is very cold you may want a shawl to drape around your shoulders. This adds another layer of warmth. Wearing warm socks, knee socks, or even leggings will help to keep your legs and feet warm.

Eat Warm

All those winter comfort foods like soups, stews, and casseroles do much more than just fill you up. They help to fuel up your inner thermostat and warm you from the inside out. Tossing ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning means you will be treating yourself to a steaming meal in the evening.

Eat plenty of protein to keep the metabolism fired up and burning fuel.

Eating spicy foods can heat you up as well. Chili, foods with hot peppers in them, salsa; all of these things cause your body to run hotter than normal. Having a cup of coffee or tea will also serve to warm you up.

Cayenne, Ginger, & Cinnamon

Cayenne pepper has the unique ability to heat you up whether taken internally or externally.

Taken in tincture or capsule form cayenne increases circulation to all of the parts of the body which in turn helps you to feel warmer. The powdered herb can be dusted in shoes or mitten (don;t run your eyes!) to warm up the extremities.

Cinnamon and ginger also increase circulation and so warm up the body. A cup of ginger tea, or adding cinnamon to your toast in the morning can help you stay warm all day.

How to Keep Warm in Winter

Bed warmers

Back in the day the people used to warm sadirons, rocks, and even baked potatoes to put in the bed to warm it. While you might not have a sadiron handy the idea is stil a good one.

There is almost nothing worse than getting into a cold bed. Get the heat going before you get there with a hot water bottle or a rice bag that has been heated in the microwave. Just place the warmed item where you feet will go, under the blankets and allow to warm the bed up for about ten minutes.

You can make your own rice bag very simply by folding an oblong of flannel in half and stitching up two sides. Three sides will be closed:

  • the fold
  • the stiches down one side
  • the stitches down the other side.

Now fill the bag with rice, not so that it is bursting at the seams but so that it is about 1/2 to 1 inch thick when lying flat. Add some lavender, eucalyptus, orange peel, rosemary, or essential oil of choice if you like. Sew up the last side, hiding your stitches.

When you want to warm your bed or soothe aching muscles just microwave it for a few minutes. It will hold heat a very long time.

Use the principle of the layering in your bed, too. Use blankets that hold in your body heat, and use more than one layer.


Get plenty of exercise to keep you blood moving and you metabolism fired up. Take a walk on a sunny afternoon, go sledding or skating, or whatever you enjoy.

As you spend more time outdoors your body will become acclimated to the cold and within a few days it will be better able to tolerate it.


It may take your body a week or so to get used to the colder temperatures but it will soon be used to them. Bodies are very flexible and they learn to work within the parameters that we give them. By following these suggestions and giving yourself some time you will find that you are quite comfortable at a lower temperature.


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    • profile image

      Hamza 6 years ago

      It's been 15 degrees outside and I have been sleeping without the hearter. For a financial reasons. I see steam from breathering throught the night, everything frozen, my water bottle everything. Thanks to God always

      would love to hear from you

    • profile image

      Amie Warren 7 years ago

      I love winter foods! I hate the cold, so I do everything I can to stay warm. I make something called "Russian Tea" that my mom used to make when we had a cold. It has lemon and orange juice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in it. It really warms you up, and keeps you healthy!

    • profile image

      Amy 7 years ago

      Im making somthing so we stay warmer in are bed so you will be in my research.YAY!

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Great suggestions and hub! Especially liked the acclimate suggestion. Far too many people think they must always be at a certain temperature and the battle of the thermostat rages on. While keeping warm isn't a problem here, keeping cool is and the same mindset in reverse should be applied to keeping cool, without setting the a/c to 70 degrees.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Many wonderful and useful ideas including heating up on the inside. Thank you!

    • marisuewrites profile image

      marisuewrites 9 years ago from USA

      This reminds us of basics; how quickly we forget them. Great! Thank you!

    • my-hair-tools profile image

      my-hair-tools 9 years ago from Ohio

      great hub, very usefull tips thanks!

    • knslms profile image

      knslms 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great ideas. Get a fireplace and bust some wood you want even need to start the fire lol

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 9 years ago

      Great hub and wonderful ideas. I agree that people have gotten to where they want to wear flip flops and tank tops even in the winter. With rising heating prices I think more and more people will start dressing warmer, at least I hope.

    • profile image

      WayneBass 9 years ago from Aurora

      I look forward to your hub. Your content is always excellent.

    • best of the web profile image

      best of the web 9 years ago from US

      Good one.

      Thanks for sharing :)