By

Baby, it’s cold outside.


Cheap, easy and eco-friendly ways to keep your home warm for the rest of winter.

Winter is (meant to be) almost at an end but based on recent weather you would be forgiven for sticking out your tongue and chanting “liar, liar pants on fire”. It’s too late to install insulation, thermostats and solar panels to keep us warm for the rest of the season (and who can afford that right now anyway?), so we’ve created a list of cheap, easy and eco-friendly ways to keep your home warm until summer shows it’s happy, shiny face.

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1. Keep yourself warm first. This might be an obvious point but that doesn’t make it any less important. Keeping yourself warm with layers of clothing is the easiest, cheapest and most natural way to prevent exposure to the cold and to retain body heat. Most of that body heat is lost through the head, hands and feet so channel your inner hipster, roll out the beanie, some gloves and warm, woolly socks. A hot water bottle (if you’re staying home) will help to regulate your core body temperature, giving you almost instant warmth. Cuddling is always good too, and the hairier your cuddle companion the better, so we recommend a Collie, Alsation or even an affectionate Labrador.

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2. Thick curtains are great for insulating a room. Not only do they minimise the amount of cool air coming in from a window (air gets trapped behind the curtain), they also prevent the escape of the heated air inside the room. Curtains with a thermal layer are ideal but if you can’t get your hands on those, grab some heavy linen from the local fabric shop, they’re a great liner too (plus they’re super cheap). Aim to use thick curtains (the thicker the better) and choose from the floor-to-ceiling variety. Keep the curtains open during the day so that your home can be flooded with lovely, warm sunlight and draw them at night to retain the heat from the day.

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3. Keep the doors of unused rooms closed. There’s no point trying to make a room warm if you’re going to leave the doors open for the heat to escape anyway. If you and your family spend your evenings in one specific room (we won’t judge you if it’s the TV room), then keep the door shut and focus on keeping only that room warm. This is more difficult in open plan homes which are designed for a free air flow. If you’re using a heater (we recommend gas, as it’s much more effective), try placing it in a corner close to where you’ll be so that the heat will remain in that corner.

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4. Stop the draught. There’s little worse than that cold, noisy breeze that comes through the window on a windy day. If you live in an exceptionally cold area or you know your home is prone to little draughts that destroy your attempts at keeping the home warm, make sure you seal all the gaps. Use a door snake or rolled up towel at the bottom of a door, put scrunched up newspaper in door keyholes and use rubber inserts or self-adhesive tape for windows that don’t close properly.

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5. Warm the floor. It is said that about 10% of heat in your home disappears through the floor. Underfloor heating is great but it costs a small fortune and it uses a lot of electricity. The solution? Carpets. Bring out the old rug and cover as much floor space as you can. Together with your thick curtains, you’re bound to retain a good amount of heat from the daily sunshine that filters through the windows. What’s more, a carpet can add extra oomph to a dreary room so not only will you have more heat, you’ll also create a fresh new look.

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6. Candles. Although they’re a major fire risk, the flame from candles can generate a lot of heat. Choose a hazard-free area to place a few candles and light them up for the evening. They’re an easy way to create warmth without electricity, they can be cheap and they create a lovely, romantic atmosphere.

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7. Get cooking. Using the oven isn’t the best idea if you’re trying to cut down on electricity costs but hear me out: Not only will the physical act of cooking warm you up (especially if you like to cook and dance at the same time), you’ll also get warmth from eating the meal you’ve cooked and you can use the heat from the oven to warm the kitchen up further by leaving the oven door open (after you’ve cooked dinner, obviously). Smart, right?

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And if you’re still not warm enough, we recommend piling on every layer you can and leaping into bed with your secret hot chocolate (made from the recipe you found on BigCityLife, naturally).

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Mignon van Zyl
About me

Journalist, hiker and design enthusiast with a mild form of OCD and a love for storytelling. After completing my degree at Rhodes University, I moved to White River to work for a lifestyle magazine called Lowveld Living. Thanks to my job, I’ve visited some of the most glamorous game lodges and homes, met wonderfully weird but inspiring artists, fed and kissed a tame hippo, hiked the ‘sentinel of the Lowveld’ and realised my devotion to nature. Most happy when I’m writing, walking or road tripping.

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