BY K. MYA | DECEMBER 2016
Natural Ways To Stay Warm
Check the thermometer. The temperature is going down, down, down. That means heating bills will go up, up, up… unless you make a few changes. Turning up the thermostat isn’t the only way keep your home warm during winter. Try these suggestions to stay comfortable, save energy and warm your home more naturally. Some require a bit of time, but others can be done in an instant.
1. Flip It
A ceiling fan is great for circulating air during the summer, making you feel cooler. Warm air hovers near the ceiling. Fan blades force the air down, where it pushes against lower, cooler air. When this air starts moving, the room temperature seems to drop.
Reverse the direction of the ceiling fan creates the opposite effect. During winter, spin the fan clockwise. The rotating blades pull cooler air up, so higher, warmer air flows down into the room. As in summer, the temperature of the room doesn’t actually change. Redistribution of the air just makes the space feel better… so save energy and don’t run a room fan if you’re not there.
2. Open It
In cold weather, warm foods are comforting. You might find yourself using your oven more often, so take advantage of the high temperature. After you’re done baking or roasting, turn off the oven but leave the door open. The hot air spreads into the kitchen, making that room, at least, toasty warm.
A word of warning: don’t take this practice to extremes. When the oven is off, it’s fine to use the leftover heat, but don’t ever run a gas oven to heat your home. A gas stove gives off dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
3. Lay It
An area rug does more than keep your feet from touching a chilly floor. It acts as an insulating layer against the cold. If you’re thinking about adding a rug to a room, consider these features:
- Depth: In most cases, the thicker the rug, the more protection it offers against the cold.
- Density: A rug with a high stitch count leaves little space between loops of yarn, so it’s a good insulator. Avoid loosely woven rugs, which let cold air circulate easily.
- Fiber: For insulation, your best bet is wool. It’s also comfy and sturdy. Wool rugs can also be pricey and tricky to clean. More affordable — and scrubbable — options include cotton, acrylic and nylon. These materials wear out faster, so rugs must be replaced more often.
- Size: This one is simple. The bigger the rug, the more protection it offers against a cold floor. There’s no law that says you can have only one rug per room. If a single rug doesn’t cut it, multiple rugs cover a lot of floor space.
4. Tuck It
Warm your bedroom — or at least your sheets — using an old-fashioned but reliable method. You know that soapstone that’s become a popular material for kitchen sinks and countertops? Well, you can actually take the soapstone and use it as a bed warmer. Soapstone holds heat well, so warmth spreads through sheets and blankets for hours. You won’t have to search through antique stores; brand-new soapstone warmers are available through retailers.
After you heat soapstone in your oven, it’s too hot to carry barehanded. Wrap the slab in a cloth, and put it under the covers a half hour before tucking yourself in. When you hit the sack, leave the soapstone in bed and stay cozy throughout the night.
5. Plug It
Windows and doors that don’t seal properly let in lots of cold air. If you have the funds, you can install replacements. Otherwise, try a low-cost approach to block the chill, such as:
- Weather stripping: Lay sections of peel-and-stick adhesive foam around doorframes and at lower edges of windows. The stripping comes in a variety of thicknesses so you can match your specific gaps.
- Clear plastic film: Attach this to a window frame. Heat the film with a hair dryer to tighten the plastic and ensure a good seal.
- Certain window coverings also help keep warmth inside:
- Cellular shades don’t block out all sunlight, but they do insulate against cold air.
- Some manufactured curtains come with insulated backing. Thick curtains or layers of curtains also provide protection.
- One snake you’ll want inside your house: a draft snake. This fabric tube, typically filled with uncooked rice or dried beans, lies peacefully at the bottom of a window or door to block cold air.
You can’t stop winter from coming, but you can take steps to keep high heating bills at bay and warm your home more naturally.