10 Ways to Stay Warm and Win the Thermostat Wars

Are you the one who’s always turning up the heat? These tactics will help keep your core temperature up and utility costs down.

My ex-husband frequently complained about being cold. We lived in a drafty trailer in Alaska, and he was always turning up the heat. I was always sneaking it back down.

In other words, we fought on opposite sides of the Thermostat Wars.

As the weather cools this fall and winter, the same skirmishes may break out in your household. Thermostats go up and down, complaints and counteraccusations fly like shrapnel.

The collateral damage, unfortunately, is your utility bill.

Winterizing your domicile could mean a truce. But some places (like trailers!) are not likely to be toasty warm no matter how much caulk you apply and how much heating oil you burn.

If you’ve done all you can to winterize your home and it’s still drafty or downright cold, try winterizing yourself. These 13 tactics can help keep your core temperature up and your utility costs down.

1. Layer up

I hate to sound like your grandma, but here goes: Wear long underwear under your slacks. It won’t make you look lumpy because it’s available in a variety of fibers, including polypropylene and even silk. Or just wear tights.

You could also put on a T-shirt (or long underwear shirt) topped by a blouse/shirt. If it’s really cold, add a sweater, sweatshirt or fleece layer. Choose wool socks over cotton ones. Like long underwear, wool socks have greatly improved in terms of style and comfort.

Wear fur or felt slippers around the house. A contractor once told me that if your feet are warm, your head is warm. If you own one of those drafty historic houses, you might need to don a hat or cap in the house and/or wrap a scarf around your neck. Either one can be a stylin’ look if you do it right.

Oh, and tuck in that shirt. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes. (Hint: You’re tucking in body heat.)

2. Go where the warmth is

Take up residence in the better-insulated room instead of sitting in the drafty parlor. Shut the door, if there is one — two or three people in a closed-up room will contribute body heat. You also get the figurative warmth of togetherness.

Don’t have a “warmest” room, only less-shivery ones? Use a space heater to fill the most comfortable room with BTUs, then turn it off and let that togetherness factor take over.

Be extremely cautious, however. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters are responsible for one-third of heating-related fires and 80 percent of deaths in heating-related fires. Check out the NFPA’s list of safety tips.

3. Redecorate the room — and yourself — for winter

Move your favorite furnishings into the least drafty parts of the room. That picture window may have great light for reading, but, boy, is it chilly. Scoot the high-backed sofa into the spot once dominated by those Morris chairs.

And don’t just sit there. Put a chenille throw on your lap or a rice sock around your neck, or get yourself one of those heated throws (sort of a mini-electric blanket) to stay comfortable while doing paperwork, reading or watching television. I have all three items but prefer the rice sock because it’s so solidly warm.

4. Take a motion break

Go up and down the stairs a few times. Walk around the house for five minutes. Do some basic stretches, yoga moves or even pushups. Or take a walk outdoors, because when you come back in, the house will seem mighty cozy.

Bonus: Whatever method you choose means a touch of good-for-you exercise.

5. Sip hot drinks

Tea, coffee, cocoa or even hot water with a slice of lemon will warm your insides. Holding the hot mug or cup is soothing to chilly fingers. The heat stays with you for a good long time.

Remember that cocoa has a lot of calories, and too much coffee might keep you awake, so be judicious about refills.

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  • bigpinch

    For married couples (or even good friends, I suppose) Try having a couple of drinks and chasing each other around the house.

  • Michigan Dave

    I have a question for everyone: I have read that a layer of bubble wrap over the window really cuts down the loss of heat. Is that really true? I’m hoping someone who knows will share and the Trolls won’t respond.

    • Penny

      yes bubble wrap DOES work, you can’t see out real good but better than just regular plastic on your windows. We did it on the patio sliding doors and it helped a lot. give it a try.

    • bigpinch

      It makes a big difference. I use it on a big single pane window in our bedroom. I actually made “curtains” out of it. Used an, un-tinted, small cell, wide roll and divided them down the middle so that I could tie them back if really needed to see out. I used clear packing tape to make the “seam” at the top and I have them suspended on a spring-loaded curtain rod behind the venetian blinds. Closed, they block the view from outside but they don’t block the light. They weigh next to nothing and, behind the blinds, they’re not obtrusive.
      I got the idea about ten years ago when I was looking at buying some expensive, custom made, insulating shades because the window gets so cold. I’m on my second set. They’re easy and inexpensive to make. I leave them in place, year round, except for when I need to clean the window.


        Many people have a desire for insulated curtains, but do not have the funds to purchase them, which I can understand because they are majorly expensive!
        An alternative to this dilemma, is to buy fleece material & make your own.
        Think of all the different patterns that you can have at a cost that even a poor boy like me could afford. : )

    • Robert Buchko

      Interesting! May have to give that one a try on some of the windows. And this site doesn’t really have trolls, at least not that I’ve seen. Even the combative folks seem genuinely interested in sharing knowledge or having a conversation, not just poking the hornet’s nest.


        stop & think of what happens to the wasp that becomes a pain…
        or the nest that is too close to the front/back door….
        This is why you do not see trolls here I think..


      It does work, but the heat retention in the house/trailer is minimal at best.
      Bubble wrap has an R-Value of maybe 1 or 1.5 at most.
      Bubble wrap is also a pain to put up & a pain to take down…
      The commercial plastic to cover the windows & then shrink with a hair dryer is a lot better & easier to use.
      Personally, I would never use bubble wrap because of how much of a pain it is going up & down…but that is just my opinion.

    • Bubble wrap works well. The commercial version with aluminum coatings on one or both sides work even better.

  • Leah Brooks

    This may sound silly or simplistic, but it really, really works and you kill two birds with one stone. Vacuum…vacuum! You will be surprised just how much it gets the old blood circulating. I discovered this forty years ago as a newlywed.

  • joanievegas

    We have an electric mattress cover with dual controls for our king size bed. Works great. We warm the bed on # 7 or 8 before getting in then I lower mine to #1 or 2 while my spouse turns hers off. Works great for us.

  • Michyle Glen

    Here is what I use for door-less entries, Take and adjustable shower curtain rod, and one or two shower curtains, and put it in the doorway. Keeps a lot of heat in the room, and can be taken down in summer. Second, Close The Doors. you would be surprised how warm a room becomes by just closing the door.

  • Robert Csapo

    Home depot and lowes carry the clear plastic with adhesive kits. Install around the window frame and heat with a hair dryer. Better than bubble wrap. Also the seasonal shower rod and curtain trick works for keeping hit air in for the winter and keeps cool air in the summer.

  • 1- I self-clean the oven on our chilliest nights (we live in Florida so we don;t get too many) so the heat warms up my small condo. Kills two birds with one stone. 2- When you have to get up in the middle of the night, pull the covers up; don’t leave them splayed open. That way, they retain a it of body heat for those few minutes you’re using the bathroom or getting that sip of water.

    • MayB

      Regarding the oven: recently I had to have my oven repaired when it no longer would heat. The repair person said that the degree of heat (550 f) needed to clean the oven is so intense, that it frequently will cause a breakdown and render it useless. He suggested three things: 1) make certain that nothing will drip onto the floor of the oven, thereby requiring a cleaning; 2) clean up any ‘messes’ as soon as possible and 3) if really necessary, use a commercial oven cleaner rather than the self-clean part.


    Some people will use the type of space heater that has the metal wires or coils that will turn red when in use…and those are fine IF, if you are careful to keep it away from any & all other combustible materials.
    I however, prefer the type of space heater that is oil filled & looks like the old time radiators. Yes they cost a wee bit more, but #1) they have an automatic shut off should anything knock it over and/or go wrong with its electronics. & #2) they are a lot less of a fire hazard.
    I strongly recommend that with ANY TYPE of space heater, you plug it into a surge strip & then plug that surge strip into the nearest outlet. I also recommend buying the type of surge strip that has a built in circuit breaker, instead of just an on/off switch.

  • Georgia Wessling

    One hint I use in the winter – let the sun in. I have a double-wide with 10 extra large double-paned windows in my living room and dining room. I keep insulated curtains on them winter and summer. They keep the heat out in the summer and cold out in the winter. However, in the winter, if I open my curtains in the front half of my home when the sun comes out strong, my temperature will raise as much as 10 degrees above what I’ve set the thermostat for. I really love all that free heat. Also, I wear sweats. I keep my trailer at 65 in the daytime and 60 at night. I put socks on my feet and have a sheet and comforter on my bed. I am always toasty warm through the night.

  • tp1943

    I found that wearing a baseball hat around the house helps. Heat escapes from the top of your head. Also when sleeping wear a pull on toque.

    • A knit cap will contain much more heat than a baseball hat, in addition to fitting snuggly and not having a built-in draft in the rear:-)

      • tp1943

        That’s what a toque is here in Canada, a knit cap where you live. Still works with any name.

        • Having heard the word on RCI, but having never read it, I thought it was misprint:-) Like Steve Martin said about the Japanese, “they have a different word for everything”:-)

  • These tips don’t go nearly far enough for me. Two layers indoors, and three if it’s really cold? Ha. I need four layers on top, plus long johns, wool socks, and a hat, just to tolerate the thermostat at 67. (I made a homemade Snuggie equivalent by cutting a hole for my head in a twin-sized blanket and wearing it like a poncho.)

    And flannel sheets aren’t bad, but they’re nowhere near as good as fleece. Flannel holds body heat in better than percale, but the smooth surface still feels chilly when you first slip between the sheets. Fleece sheets have a lofty nap on them, like blankets, so they feel warm the minute you climb into bed.

  • Try adding some thermogenic foods to your diet, which will increase the amount of heat that your body produces, with the side benefit of burning any excess weight off. Such foods also tend to be anticarcinogenic and antioxidant, which everyone can use to advantage.

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