One chilly Monday morning

One chilly Monday morning

I'm attempting to type this post with half-frozen fingers, and on a very few minutes of poor internet connection (brought to me by some mobile wireless device my husband has lent me for 10 minutes until he leaves for work).

Our internet is down, once again, and so I don't know when I'll be posting next. If any little moments of connectivity occur, I will do my best to get on here and finish the post I've started on the Baby Purity Conference I attended on Saturday (there is so much to share, and I have post information and inspiration for the next couple of weeks!).

The book giveaway ends this afternoon at 3pm, so get in while you can (although if I can't get on here, then I guess a few more lucky people will squeak in before I draw a name)!

I have a quick question for you before I sign off… Since things are tight financially (I don't mean particularly for us at this moment, but just in the economy in general) we are trying to hold off on using our central heating this winter as long as possible, because in our large, drafty (rental) house it is ridiculously expensive.

So far, we've purchased a portable electric heater that we've been using in whatever room we're in, but it takes a little while to actually warm up the whole room (though it does a great job if your'e directly in front of it). The kids room has been pretty warm at night, as long as they're well-bundled, though last night was the first time that I felt it was really too cold. In our room, we've been using an electric blanket to pre-heat our bed, and then we turn it off when we get in (our room is an ice-box, though, as it has especially drafty windows, a high ceiling, and is above the garage).

My husband and kids seem to handle it better than me, but I get chilled particularly easily and I must admit, I find it hard to not feel a bit grumpy when I'm shivering in my house. I'm wearing warm clothes, and I try to keep the heater in the kitchen/family room with the door shut, but then I'm so hesitant to go out into the rest of the house all day, which really doesn't work well with having clean bathrooms and getting the laundry done!

I'm wondering if any of you have any advice for me on how to weather the chilliness of the house. What do you do to keep yourself and your kids warm, without cranking up the heat? Any tips from those who are also in drafty homes that you don't own and can't do much about? Any heater recommendations (we're probably going to buy one more soon)?

I'm thanking you all in advance through my chattering teeth. 🙂

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  1. We live in an older home in Minnesota that is very drafty and cold in the winter. We put plastic over the all the windows in the house. We also use lined curtains on windows to cut down on the draft and also to break up rooms (like near the garage door entry way…to keep the heat in. We bundle up ourselves and the kids…though if my husband has to put his winter coat on then we turn the heat on:) Also drinking warm beverages helps as well as using the oven to cook or bake. One last suggestion is sleeping with the bedroom doors open so that the colder rooms can warm up a little bit?

    I admit we have already turned on the heat (on low) but it did snow yesterday here.

    Hope this helps or at least you know that others go through it too.

    We are still trying to figure it all out.

  2. You could hang heavy curtains to keep the particularly drafty windows from leaking. You could even just hang up blankets at night time as part of a routine. Also, you’ve probably seen those old ties stuffed with rice that you put at the bottom of doors to keep out the draft. (If you haven’t seen them, then I’ll show you…) Finally, it always feels warmer if the humidity is higher. So, 50 degrees at a low humidity is much cooler than at a high humidity. So, you might run humidifiers or keep a pot of water boiling on the stove to keep the humidity in your home up.

  3. Last year I made rice packs to heat in the microwave to keep our feet warm in bed or just to sit with. They were great. We’ve stopped using our microwave though and I’m not sure if they’ll heat in the oven. Maybe a hot water bottle though would do the same thing.

  4. Growing up in super old houses in MN, I can relate to the bone chilling cold you are dealing with!

    I agree with warm drinks, bundling up and wearing slippers, wrapping in blankets, etc. Plastic on the windows helped a lot in those old houses.

    I would add that when the chill really sets in, turn on some music and run around with the kids to get yourselves warmed up. Our favorite is “Linus and Lucy” from Charlie Brown – it over 7 minutes long. My son calls it “the running song”.

    Also, do anything you can to help feel warm and cozy – close the blinds as soon as it gets dark, light candles (all day), take the screens off the windows and clean them so that it feels brighter during the day, things like that.

    Good luck!

  5. my family growing up did the same thing with the plastic on the windows. you buy a double sided tape to tape the plastic to the front facing side of the window frames and then use a hair dryer to heat the plastic a little (it will stretch the plastic out smooth.)
    me and my boys are fairly warm blooded and it takes a lot to get us really cold so I don’t really have more help then the plastic on the windows thing.

  6. Another vote for plastic on the windows, you can buy it all as a kit ready to put up.

    Also, while not very “modern”, having something on your head (hence the old sleeping bonnets and stocking hats) really helps to keep you warm while sleeping.

  7. I have hung insulated curtains too. But NEW kerosene heaters are wonderful — innexpensive and very safe. My friends who live in a drafty old house wear snowmobile suits — not sure I could do that. In our old drafty home we close off rooms that we are not using. Stay warm!

  8. I’ll be putting up the plastic on my windows this year.
    I use beach towels rolled up on the botton of the doors to help keep the heat in and cold out. You can do this with inside rooms if you are only heating up one room.
    Use your oven everyday- bake and cook hot food and let the heat escape from the oven when done.
    Fuzzy thick socks
    Dance or use a jump rope to move around in the morning and put a smile on your face.
    Whenever I sit down [except at the dining table]- like the computer or couch- I don’t keep as warm as when I am moving around so I always put on a blanket.
    Snuggling with babes keeps us all warm 🙂
    Wear your knitted hat and scarves inside…

  9. I remember in Little House on the Prarie books when they walked to school they put hot potatoes in their pockets!

    We haven’t turned our heat on yet and its been cold–I just wear layers and socks/slippers around and will wrap a blankie over my shoulders, but I get hot easily so I don’t have too much of a problem with it. We have hardwood floors so I always having something on my feet. We also live in the upper level of an older home that was split in 2 to make 2 apartments, so I think some our neighbor’s heat rises 🙂

  10. I love wool underclothing. I can sometimes find it at thrift stores, but even if I couldn’t, I’d be sorely temped to buy some. There’s nothing like it. I wear my wool long-sleeved tee under just about everything. I also sleep with a wool hat and wool socks on. (Changing socks right before bed makes a big difference).

    I wear a neck scarf all day long, all winter long.

    For the kids, all 4 share one tiny room (two sets of bunk bed type structures), and there’s a warm mist humidifier in it. It’s stays pretty warm in there, even when the rest of the house is only 60.

    Oh yes, as others mentioned, jumping jacks in the morning.

    Lots of hot tea (herbal, of course), or just drink hot water instead of cold.

    Eat cayenne pepper. (Or take it in a capsule). It improved my circulation and body heat overnight.

    Others have already mentioned window quilts or plastic. I did the plastic one year, and it did make a difference. I found the “extra clear” plastic was worth the bit of extra money, even though the view out the window still wasn’t the same.

    I should have just written a blog post, this is so long. Perhaps I will.

  11. For the first time last year, we taped plastic around the big window in the master bedroom, where the most heat seemed to be lost. This year, I think I’m going to do all of our windows once I’m sure that I won’t be opening them for a while. You can get this plastic from the hardware store in big sheets. We also had to replace our front door this summer (due to a break-in), and we had always suspected that much heat was lost through the door due to it not being hung properly. Our new door seals up fabulously, so we’re hoping to notice a difference. We also have hung blankets in front of doors or windows to keep the cold from coming off the window. Hot water bottles are also a great idea for warming up beds! We also have closed the heating vents in rooms that we didn’t use much, but that no longer applies as we now have kids!

  12. I grew up with a very frugal stepfather, who never used the heat during the winter, or the a/c during the summer. One thing I learned from that was – always dress the part. I would (and when going out still do) wear lots of layers during the winter. Always wear socks. Always cover your head. Drink warm drinks (tea, warm milk, etc). Sleep with lots of blankets.

    I have found that as I’ve gotten older I handle the cold a lot better. My husband use to always love the cold winters, but is now dreading it. As for me, I usually walk around our house in pants, a short-sleeve shirt and no socks. Without the heat on. Not sure why, I just always seem to be hot (maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m chasing around a little one?).

  13. Bubble wrap on the windows works great. You just mist the windows with a bit of water and then press the bubble wrap up against the glass. The static cling makes it stay. Window quilts work wonders too. Wearing a stocking cap in the house, though it feels strange to many of us in modern times, is one of the oldest and best ways to keep warm. Remember you lose most of your body heat through your head.

    A month or so ago, Mother Earth News Magazine, had an article that mentioned venting your electric clothes dryer into the house for heat (don’t do this if its gas). They just re-routed the vent into the house and covered the end with some pantyhose to stop lint from flying all over the house. Just be sure to clean out the lint now and then.

  14. I am with you. I have a hard time functioning in cold weather (though the maca seems to have helped me deal with coldness). I agree with Kathie, a stocking hat really does wonders. I also like to wear a scarf. How cold is it in your house?

  15. Keep doors shut, plastic on the windows or blankets/sheets hung as extra curtain insulation, roll towels against the bottom of doors, drink warm liquids, wear something on your head and feet, bake. 🙂 I like everyone else’s suggestions too.

  16. Unfortunately I can’t be of much help on this issue. I do live in chilly New England but we keep our heat at about 69 degrees F during the cold weather! I loathe being cold!! I do find that the humidifier also warms a room up a lot as mentioned above. Everyone else had some great ideas as well.

  17. Living in Arizona I don’t think I will be much help-we still have our fans on here. (But we have finally turned off the A/C). I don’t like the cold very much so I am going to send you lots of warm thoughts. Think desert sunshine-maybe it will help.

  18. We keep the heat set at 65. I feel I have to because of the kiddies. For those of you who keep it lower, how do you keep your noses (and the kids’) from running? When the temp hits below 55 or so, my nose runs like crazy. Also, my fingers get cold to the bone. Any suggestions?

    I love the plastic on the windows, and also I agree with the cooking in the oven, it serves two purposes. If you have a gate to keep the kids out of the kitchen, when you are done cooking, shut off the oven but leave the oven door open to vent the heat into the house.

  19. Great ideas, everyone! Thank you sooo much!

    Kimi, I’m not sure exactly. It’s gotten up to about 19 (celsius) now that we’ve had a sunny day (it’s 5 pm). But in the mornings and nights, I’d guess it’s more like 10 degrees or colder in some parts of the house (and maybe a tad warmer in others?). Sorry, I don’t know how to translate that to farenheit!

  20. I can so relate to what you’re going through. It makes me grumpy, too. 🙂

    We’ve done everyone’s suggestions, but the hats. I’ll try that this year. Having slippers has probably made the biggest difference for us. Towels work wonders at doors. I put the kids in bathrobes.

    I think they actually have coverter kits at hardware stores for the dryer thing, although I haven’t tried that yet. I love that idea.

  21. Hmm. Well. I live in California so what do I know? It’s been in the forties (Fahrenheit) and maybe high thirties. We don’t have central heat (or AC!) but that’s what I get for marrying a carpenter and moving into an old house he wanted to upgrade.
    On cold mornings I bake or run the dishwasher as that seems to heat up the kitchen nicely. (Our house is only 850 sq. feet though so it doesn’t take much.)
    I second the suggestion of using corn/rice bags.
    Wearing hats/beanies in the house is awesome as well.
    Also, in order to better keep heat in rooms that didn’t have a door to close, we got a closet/curtain/shower rod (adjustable) and put that up in the doorway and hung a curtain/blanket to keep the heat where we wanted it.

  22. To go along with the long underwear suggestions, have you heard of SmartWool? They have base layers that are very thin and close-fitting so that they can easily be worn under your normal clothes. Whenever we go camping in cold climates, they rarely leave my body! I’m not sure where they would be sold in your area, but you can always google them. Stay warm!

  23. Hi there! We went without heat in Wisconsin for most of last winter. However, this was not because we chose to.:) More power to you, by the way. We got enough to fill one tank of oil in our equally drafty and freezing rental house from our church (thank Jesus!). It was especially cold last year, but I’m pretty sure we could have made it. We didn’t get any heat until Jan and it was gone by mid Feb. We bought two extra space heaters and put one in the boy’s room, one in ours, and one in the living room. We were extremely careful with the space heater in my son’s room, but don’t do this unless it’s your last option. Like, if you can ACTUALLY AFFORD heat – get it instead.

    We sectioned off the kitchen that lead to the basement so the heat didn’t escape. We also put plastic on every window and kept the bathroom door closed. But it was cold. And I am thankful this year that we have moved and can afford electric heat!! WOO HOO! Also – once you’re done baking – if you can block it off from the kiddos – keep the oven open. It makes a difference. Oh yeah and candles make you FEEL warmer. And remember that most of your body heat escapes from your head… so keep a sleeping hat on – espcially on those munchkins!

  24. My husband buy a certain type of tape and he lines around the window where the drafts come in. Its easy to take it off should there be an emergency, and we leave the patio door window intact. It is simpler and cheaper than putting up the big plastics and it does keep the drafts at bay.

    He gets it at the hardware store, but right now, i forget the name.

  25. We have a few methods of heating that we usually use before we turn on the central heat, or to supplement it so it isn’t running all the time. I try to do my baking and then put the baby gate in front of the kitchen, but leave the oven open to heat the rest of the house as it cools off.

    We have gas logs that warm up the main living area incredibly quickly. We also use an electric heater in the girls room at night, but we have two kerosene heaters that are much more powerful if we need them.

    We were caught in an ice storm a few years ago that knocked out power. With the kerosene heaters and the gas logs, I don’t think we’d have a problem if it happened again.

  26. We live in an apartment, and although we’re snugly surrounded by other apartments that help keep us warm, the windows are particularly drafty. Last winter I rolled beach towels and laid them on our windowsills. I could tell a big difference. I also make sure to close the curtains at night to help stop drafts.

  27. Didn’t see this anywhere– but if you don’t want to use rice packs in the oven, use a brick. The pioneers used to do this, you know. 🙂 Potatoes work too! Just be careful to wrap them in a piece of flannel or somethin first. They warm up your toes (or bum, if you’re sitting) nicely.

  28. Others covered a bunch of the bases, but I thought I’d chip in with a product my husband found, though I don’t think we can afford it.

  29. Just a word of encouragement…our bodies are great at adapting. The cold is always shocking when it first hits, but after a few weeks, I’m just used to it. We only use central heat, but I never turn the thermostat above 60 degrees. I always make sure to open all of the blinds as soon the sun is up to soak up whatever heat that can provide.
    I’ve done the rice bag thing too, but we recently got rid of the microwave, so I’m not sure if we’ll be able to continue that.

  30. It is so refreshing knowing others keep their houses cold! Sometimes I feel like we are the only ones and everyone thinks we’re crazy! When I first got married I kept our heat low out of deference to my husband, but now I think I prefer it colder! (Although as I type this my hands and feet are freezing!)

    Warm up tips: 1)Wool socks and slippers (I wear my husbands hunting socks). 2)Drink hot water as too much tea, even herbal, makes me feel dehydrated. 3)Blankets over large windows…very helpful!

    4)Take some frozen produce that you’ve stored and can it(like jellies for gifts). A friend has done this with good results…and nothing warms up a kitchen faster than a boiling water canner!!

  31. Somehow I missed this post. We have a rather large drafty house (with old metal framed windows upstairs that we can’t afford to replace just yet.) Last year we discovered something that cut our gas bill in half even though the gas prices more than doubled. Instead of trying to cover the windows with plastic we covered them with plastic shopping bags (which though ghetto are free) and then we took down the curtains and replaced them with multiple blankets. We also replaced all our light bulbs with full spectrum lights (I need to photosynthesize as my husband likes to point out.:)) This made the lack of indoor light from the blankets over the windows tolerable. We live in Western PA where the temp drops down pretty nicely and even though we have had snow for over a month the furnace is only coming on occasionally. Also, we wear fingerless gloves, socks, and hat most of the time.

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