It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year… as the song goes. And while there is a lot to be said about city streets sparkling with holiday lights, drifting snowflakes, country landscapes with glittering bare-branched trees against a sterling sky, and fence posts topped with marshmallow crowns; it’s also the time of year that we shiver against indoor drafts, and wrestle with our desire to go out and watch Christmas parades and town tree light-ups, and our equally strong desire to remain warm.
So are there some winning winter tips for keeping warm when the frost is on the pumpkins?
Slick Tricks for Keeping Warm Outdoors
If you’d really like to head downtown for that townsquare tree light-up, but the flurries are flying, there are some great tips for staying toasty while you enjoy outdoor activities.
First, keep your core cozy. Having a warm core body temperature is key in staying warm during outdoor winter activities. When your mom told you to wear layers and zip up your coat, she knew what she was talking about.
Today’s outdoor experts tell us that wearing a moisture-wicking undershirt is a huge step toward staying warm outdoors. A moisture-wicking shirt not only supplies that critical underlayer, but it also lessens the possibility that sweat will make you damp, which is your worst enemy while out in cold weather.
By concentrating on core warmth, your hands and feet will also stay warm. How does that work? Because during very cold temperatures, your body will send more blood to your center to warm your vital internal organs when necessary, leaving less warming circulation in your extremities. By keeping your center warm, the blood flow will remain to warm your hands and feet.
Another great core cozying trick for extended outdoor activities is to use a heat wrap, such as ThermaCare wraps for sore backs. These require no power source and last for up to six hours. You simply open it, wrap it around your middle, and velcro it closed. It supplies a long-lasting boost of steady warmth around your middle that can be your secret weapon when out sledding with the kids. Also, automatic hand warmers in your gloves or pockets are amazing hand hacks for staying warm outdoors in the winter.
Be sure to be well hydrated by drinking plenty of water (or hot cocoa) before going outdoors. Being well-hydrated helps to boost your circulation, which also boosts your internal body temperature.
Hats and mittens are also essential in very cold weather. (Again, mother knows best.) Mittens keep hands warmer than gloves. Or you can just keep a mug of hot cocoa in your hands at all times!
Hints and Hacks for Staying Warm Indoors (Without Having to Tap Into Your Holiday Shopping Fund)
It isn’t only outdoors where you feel the chill in the winter months. Things definitely cool off indoors as well. Keeping your home log-cabin-cozy in the winter begins with having your heating system checked in the early fall. Don’t wait until the first cold spell, when heating companies have long waiting lists and lots of emergency calls. Instead, schedule a maintenance check early to be sure everything is in top form before the first morning frost. Don’t wait until the first snow flurries to discover that your heating system is still on its summer vacation.
Also, ask your heating maintenance service for any tips they can give you about warming your home and economizing your energy bills.
If you do find that your system can’t keep up with the cold, it may be time to have a couple of space heaters to use in a pinch. Today’s best space heaters are much safer than those of the past, but be sure to follow all instructions and safety guidelines.
Also, remember that layers are not just for outdoors. Wearing an undershirt, a warm shirt, and a sweater will go a long way toward keeping you toasty indoors and may even allow you to turn the thermostat down a little to save energy. There is nothing more annoying than watching someone in a tee-shirt and flip-flops complaining about the cold and heading for the thermostat. (Bundle up or shut up, right?)
Besides having your home heating system checked and maintained, it’s also a good time to have your hot water heater serviced and checked for efficiency. We all know that they tend to choose the coldest time of the year to quit. If your hot water heater is outdated and iffy, and the weatherman is warning of a polar vortex, you might consider replacing and upgrading your water heater before the snow flies. You may want to consider a new, tankless water heater. The best tankless water heaters may cost a little more to begin with, but will save energy and lower your monthly power bill.
Once your water heater is working at its optimal level, go ahead and enjoy a hot bath every night during cold weather! Not only does this warm your whole body, and the bathroom, but when you are done, leave the water in the tub until it cools, open the bathroom door, and allow the steamy water to warm and add humidity to your home. Just don’t forget to moisturize, as a hot bath can dry your skin in the winter.
Run Fans in Reverse
Many people don’t realize that most ceiling fans have reverse switches on the side or top. Simply switching your ceiling fan to reverse will help to push warm air—which rises—back down into the room.
Good Home Cooking
This was another thing your wise mother and grandmother always told you—that a home-cooked meal warms the heart and the tummy. They were right! It also warms your home when you use your oven, so winter is a good time to stay indoors and drag out your favorite old recipes or experiment with some new ones. And again, core temperature is critical for keeping warm, so a bowl of hot soup, stew, or chili will leave you feeling cozy. Also, nothing smells better than a slow-roasting chicken, and the fact that it warms both your home and your heart is a blissful bonus!
Resources— bhf.org, MentalFloss, BestLife, TheWeek.com