15 Tips for Keeping Warm this Winter

Winter can be a challenge for a frugal minded family. How can you keep warm without watching your energy bill skyrocket?

After living in several old (read: drafty) houses, and not being able to afford things like new windows, these are my favorite strategies:
keep warm this winter
Play outside with your kiddos. When you come in you’ll have exercised, but – bonus! – the inside will also feel warmer.

Make draft blockers. Use old mismatched socks or discount fabric to make a tube. Fill with rice, beans, or sand. Use these around doors or windows. My sewing skills are minimal but I’ve made these. If I can sew these, anyone can, but you can also buy them at some stores. The advantage if you make your own is you could use neutral fabric or something that matches your decor.

Have lots of cuddly blankets around the house. Over chairs, the back of the couch, etc. Get the extras out of storage and keep them folded at the ends of beds or tossed over chairs. Winter is the season for piles of pillows and blankets. Kids make blanket forts, adults, well, I have two favorite blankets that I pull over myself on a regular basis.

Use rugs over the floor. Especially hardwood or tile, but you can do this over carpet too, for an extra layer of warmth.

Wear layers. You can always add or remove a layer. This helps with kids as well. Our girls tend to dressed as normal in the winter but add a fleece sweatshirt. As they warm up they remove it but sometimes they wear them all day. My husband has quite a supply of fleece pullovers he wears almost year round since he is cold natured. Our girls wear tights and socks on the coldest days, and I do too if I need to. (For some reason I have several children who like to complain about being cold but also enjoy running around barefoot. I insist they put socks on if they complain about the temperature.)

Do your laundry. Even if you use a clothesline in the summer, an electric or gas dryer is one great way to heat up the house in the winter.

Gather for family time. Everyone seems warmer when you’re all together, laughing and playing. Plus you can cuddle under one of the blankets I mentioned above and read a good book or watch a good movie (don’t forget the popcorn and hot cocoa).

Fill the house with people. Invite friends over. Have a larger than average family (I’m kidding, of course, unless that’s the direction your life has taken, like mine has). All that body heat warms things up.

Keep moving. You’re warmer doing chores than sitting at a desk. An old proverb says “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.” We don’t actually chop wood (no fireplace or wood-burning stove), but keeping busy at household tasks is always a good way to stay warm. (Side note: if a child is prone to complaining about the cold, after making sure they have socks and a sweater on, hand them a chore list.)

Keep the kettle on. Or at least keep mugs and cocoa mixes handy by the microwave. Tea, coffee, hot cocoa, warm milk, hot cider…winter is the right season for all of these. They’ll warm you from the inside out.

Serve warm soups or stews that have simmered all day. A pot of something hot on the stove will warm the entire kitchen. A pot of chili might warm you up in more than one way, depending on how spicy you like it. It’s also a great season for baking bread or other goodies. In the summer I can’t stand the thought of heating up the kitchen by baking cookies, but in winter it sounds like a wonderful idea. (I guess there’s more than one reason why we tend to put on pounds in the winter.)

Burn candles (but never leave unattended, of course). This is my favorite way to make the house smell better and feel warmer (and lighter) all at once.

Cover your windows with a layer of plastic. These kits aren’t expensive (the image above is an affiliate link to Amazon, but you can find these kits at any home improvement or big box store), and they make a noticeable difference. If you’re handy you might want to try this DIY version from Everyday Crafty Goodness: Resealable Magnetic Window Insulation Tutorial.

This is a great time to hang insulated curtains. Quilts would do in a pinch but there are so many lovely curtains you can buy now. Open them up on sunny days, though. You don’t want to subject yourself to S.A.D by living in a cave all the time. (Although hibernating has sounded like a great idea to me at times. Winter? Wake me up when it’s over.)

Have the insulation in your house checked (preferably before winter arrives). I’ve seen statistics that say most houses are under insulated. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it can’t hurt to check. Remember Little House in the Big Woods: as they’re getting ready for winter Laura’s Pa piles straw and other insulating material around the outside of the house. Products have advanced since those days, but the principle remains the same.

In the winter of 2014 my family bought a fixer upper, fixed it up, and moved in during the coldest, iciest, snowiest winter any of us can remember. When we tell the stories about those times (walking up hill in knee deep snow, carrying laundry baskets from the laundromat because our rental house didn’t have a washing machine or dryer…), well, we look around our new home and feel instantly warmer. Any snowy day where we’re not out trying to pick up mattresses that have blown off a pickup truck into a snowdrift (yes, this actually happened), is a good snowy day.

Sometimes “warm” is just a matter of perspective.

What are your favorite tricks for keeping warm in the winter?

keeping warm this winter

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  1. I love your tip to get moving. That really works for me. Sometimes I’ll be wearing my coat in the house (which isn’t all that cold), but once I start moving I don’t need it anymore. I also like to burn candles—it just makes it feel warmer, even though I’m sure it doesn’t make much of a difference.

    One thing I do is to leave the oven open after I’m done using it and I’ve turned it off—as long as there are no kids around! Also opening the dishwasher right after the end of the cycle to let out the hot air and steam—and that gets the dishes dry faster too.

    • Love that dishwasher idea. We have to wait until the little guy goes to bed to do anything with the dishwasher anyway – he loves to turn it on or off. :)