The change of seasons is something I missed out on growing up in Florida. The bright colors of spring and fall, the winter grays and snowy white are all the changes I look forward to each year, now. Admittedly I love summer. It's the Floridian in me, I suppose, but fall and spring run a close second if only because they don't last as long as the summers here.
Winter has a life and lifestyle all its own for me. Keeping warm is a vital key to my winter enjoyment. I love the snow and even the gray days once in a while, just please let me be able to GET warm when - Baby, it's cold outside!
Over the years of being on a shoe-string budget, I have come up with a way of keeping warm while saving our cold hard cash. Here are a few tips that cost very little and even save money over more conventional methods.
Around the house:
Insulate even if it's cheap insulation. I don't mean going into the attic and doing that kind, but windows, vents, underneath doors can all be sealed with very little expense. A roll of shiny metallic insulation can be purchased at a home improvement store and will cut to cover every vent (even the one in the hood of the stovetop) to keep drafts out. An old stained towel can be stuffed with dryer sheets and sewn into a tube to block draft from under the doors.
Use the fireplace if you have it. Keeping a fire, small or large, going keeps the home toasty with little expense to the utility bill. If you are blessed to have a wood stove, use it as well.
Open those drapes on sunny days and close them at night. This might seem odd but it really will warm up your house if you open the drapes WIDE open when the sun is shining. This way they can be pulled open far away to expose the most window pane for maximum sunlight. It also makes it appear you have those nice expensive, large picture windows! Also if you have thick drapes or shades, pull them closed at night to keep draft and cooler glass behind them. One trick is to hang your drapes further out than your window.
In and around the kitchen:
Do canning in the winter. We harvest our grapes and some other fruits in the summer and immediately put them in the freezer for winter canning. There is no need to heat up our kitchen in the hot summer when we can use this heat in the winter. Plus it's a great project for when it's too cold to get into the garden. The smells bring spring and harvest to mind and help the gray days pass faster.
Use a dehydrator to heat. If you don't have the money to invest in a top of the line dehydrator , then look into getting a budget one and using it for double duty. I have one in my office with sliced apples (that were about to go bad) right at this very moment as I type. It is keeping my feet nice and toasty while the rest of the house is about 60 degrees.Soups, hot cocoa and fresh baked bread are staples. Soups are easy to make and filling, plus the crock pot radiates a bit of heat all day in the kitchen. Dessert is usually home-made hot cocoa because it's cheap, healthy and warm. Freshly baked bread is, well, my year-round mainstay, but it takes on a double duty in the winter by warming the home.
Personal space and body:
Keep moving to keep warm. Not being much of a 'sit-still' kind of gal, I like to keep at least my hands moving. I find that this keeps me warmer than reading or watching television. So even if I watch a show, I tend to stand and do a task that keeps me mobile. Some choices are: folding clothes, ironing (heat from that), sorting socks (I hate that), sorting through mail or paper clutter and others that I choose to leave the room during commercials to keep moving, warm and accomplished.
Sitting down means cover up. On the occasions that sitting still is a 'must', I like to toss an afghan over myself. It seems that the cold can settle on top of a person when we sit still for too long. We keep a big covered basket of afghans in the den, one afghan for each of us and spares for company.
Socks are your friend. I'm a barefoot hippy at heart, but socks in the winter are becoming my new best friends! Moisturizing feet just before putting them on also helps with the winter foot freeze and dryness. My girls got me some super fuzzy socks in bright colors to wear in the winter. They are fun, cheap and keep my feet warm on the tile floors.
There are more tips to this trick of keeping warm that shouldn't have us shelling out our cold hard cash on the heat bill. Please share your budget friendly tricks and let's help warm each other's hearts and homes!
Donna Miller is an author, teacher and entrepreneur. Her favorite roles are that of wife and mother to three home-school graduates. Living with a Homesteading Mindset in the country, the city and suburbs has been an adventure! The Millers own and operate Millers Grain House which offers Organic and Chemical-free Whole Grains, Bosch Mixers, the NutriMill, instructional tutorials, recipes and more.
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