My tips for keeping warm in winter: from a veteran of freezing houses, wooden floors and big windows.

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I’ve had a lot of posts and questions from people recently asking about keeping warm in the winter, and having just dug out my annual (what I call my) ‘survival kit’, I thought I’d do a quick post about it in case anyone finds it helpful. As with the nature of these posts, I’m sure there will be lots of helpful hints and tips popping up in the comments below as well!

This winter I am living in a flat with large windows and wooden floors – again – BRRRR!! So number 1 item on my list is SLIPPERS. Or in my case, fleecy ‘footsie’ things, that were £3 from a certain cheap high street clothing store… I put them on when I get through the door and take them off when I’m safely tucked up under a duvet.

I am used to layering up by now, and do it out of habit when the colder weather sets in – I think I’ve got it pretty nailed.

First up, thick wool-type tights, under thin leggings, under jeans. In order to save on washing, I wear the tights and the leggings for a few days – I mean, how dirty are they going to get under a pair of jeans anyway? I hang them up to air overnight to freshen them up. I’m sure someone would have told me by now if I didn’t smell great – but I’m assuming I’m all fine!

On top, I wear a vest top, then a long sleeved top, then a jumper.

In the evenings, I keep the leggings and long sleeved top on under my pyjamas, and throw a dressing gown over the top. Apart from my hands and face, I try to cover up everything, so I don’t get any cold patches of skin – including tucking vests into tights. I have no shame, but it works.

Thermal underwear can be expensive; I find a pair of £2 woolly tights and a £3 long sleeved top (both from that super cheap high street store) just as effective – layers work by trapping warm air between them, and that warm air isn’t fussy about what brand name your layers are!

Other things I do, almost without thinking about them:

- Shower in the evening; it’s evenings I find the worst of all. In the mornings it’s unpleasant to get out of bed in the cold, but with a toddler to organise and breakfast to make etc, I’m up and about and moving, so the cold feeling doesn’t last too long. In the evenings, when I relax and unwind and am doing less pottering about, that’s when I start to feel the cold – so I jump in the shower and blast myself through, even a warm shower is bliss when your home is freezing, and takes the edge off for an hour or so.

- Draw the curtains in the evening to keep heat in, especially if you have large windows. I have an enormous bay window and keeping the curtains closed makes a noticeable difference.

- Wear a hat indoors. I know it sounds a bit daft but (apparently) a lot of heat is lost through your head, I’m not sure about the science but I certainly always feel warmer with a hat pulled down around my ears. In the coldest months I even sleep in my hat, and it’s the best warm and cosy feeling!

- Eat hot food: I like porridge in the evening as a snack, it warms me up and gives my body something to ‘do’ – we get colder when we are hungry. Carbs get a pretty bad press these days, but a quick bowl of pasta or porridge does wonders for warming me up. Plus standing over that pan of boiling water for 10 minutes as pasta cooks is good for warming up a little bit…

- Drink hot drinks: if i’m feeling organised, I keep freshly boiled water in a Thermos-type flask to keep it hot for hours instead of reboiling the kettle. When I was younger, my mum used to make us hot blackcurrant juice in the evenings, I still find it quite comforting now. Warm drinks will raise your core temperature, and warm up your hands and fingers too.

- Pick a room and stick to it. In the evenings, I migrate into the ‘snug’ – which is my lounge/bedroom and sounds a lot posher than it really is! It’s basically a room with a single daybed in but it’s the only room with a rug – and lots of blankets and throws! I work from there if I have work to do, tucked up on my sofa-that-is-also-my-bed. I close all of the doors in the flat to stop cold air from circulating around it – and hermit in my corner far away from the big windows.

- Bedtime camping! This sounds bizarre but I think most of my readers will have worked out i’m cut from my own cloth by now: make a bed-tent. Less complicated than it sounds. When you go to bed, pull the covers right over your head. Your breathing will warm the little space up very quickly – and you can pop your head back out again in a minute or so.

- Rice socks. Put a handful of rice into a sock, tie the end (or sew it if you’re good at that sort of thing) and pop it in the microwave for a minute to make a reusable heat pack for your hands.

These are just my tips, from trial and error over the last few winters – please feel free to add your own! I hope some of these are helpful. And here’s a cringey selfie of me in all my layers, just because!

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Jack Monroe.
Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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153 thoughts on “My tips for keeping warm in winter: from a veteran of freezing houses, wooden floors and big windows.

      • Just found your website. Good luck with all you do for the future.
        Tip for keeping warm: if you have the cash, invest in two sets of flannelette sheets. I am 76 and as soon as the weather gets cold on go the flanneletties! We don’t have heating in the bedroom and I hate getting into a freezing cotton-sheeted bed in the winter. The sheets are not that expensive, charity shops are worth a visit, but they do take longer to dry, hence the two sets. I don’t change them as often as cotton anyway. Don’t need hotties but do wear my jim jams and bed socks.
        Best wishes Joan Kay

      • We don’t have them in the house either – similar thing I was burned as a child and have never used them. You can sometimes pick up wheat bags cheap (the type with cute animal covers) I put them into the little one’s bed about 20 minutes before bedtime to warm it up for him. Also have roller blinds up against windows behind the curtains which has made a huge difference to the warmth in the rooms and the bills.

    • I’ve got one of those stoneware hot water bottles (you quite often see them in charity shops) which I put in bed for a few hours before I go to bed. I think it’s easier to fill than a traditional one and is lovely and toasty when you get into bed…

  1. Good tips! I also have a battalion of hot water bottles and a small heater for blasts of warm air. Living right on the seafront with sash windows, I have plastic bags in the gaps around the window, tape around the edge and newspaper stuffed up the chimney.
    From cold on the coast

  2. I guess that us chaps could wear tights and leggings but I have found them a bit…itchy. I bought some thermal long johns a few years ago from my local market and they do the job.

    Fingerless gloves are good too.

  3. I’m all for any way to save spending money on heating! Best tip is to keep moving for as long as possible – whether that is doing odd jobs here and there and then when everything is done, like you say, settle in one room with lots of throws/cushions :)

  4. ive made curtains from second hand charity shop b lankets ..2 or 3 pounds each with clips from ik@a with rings on ..really keep the drafts out ..they look quite nice actually

    • Love that idea. I don’t actually have curtains because I have never found any at all that I could live with. Blankets sound much more appealing and not something I would have thought if! Thanks :)

      • Try thermal curtain lining fabric – you can get it very cheaply on ebay – either tack it to the inside of existing curtains, or as it’s off-white & fairly inoffensive just use it as curtains.

      • Visited N.T. property,Clandon House a couple of days ago, and the guide said that after WW11, when the owners got the house back, there were no curtains, and no fabric available due to rationing, so her ladyship blagged army blankets from Canadian troops based nearby, they were dyed and made up into curtains, and they are still there! You’d never guess, still look good!

  5. Don’t worry too much about the loss of heat through your head. Some people say that you lose most of your body heat through your head, but this is bad science and long debunked.

    If your body wants you to cover up your head, it’ll let you know by giving you sensations of your head being cold.

    • Further to John’s comments: my understanding is that the head loses about the same amount of heat as any other area of the body, by surface area – so when everything other than the head and hands is covered, of course it seems that the head is losing a lot of heat!

      The scientific approach of ‘if your head feels cold, wear a hat’ is similar to ‘if you feel thirsty, drink water’. Makes sense!

    • The body’s primary goal is to keep vital organs protected and optimal so if you are wearing warm head gear and have your torso cosy, the body is more likely to dilate blood vessels in the extremities, making the fingers and toes warmer…or something like that, rather than the science of heat loss through the head theory…

    • I tried this but couldn’t get it to have any effect at all? Maybe our temperatures here in Canada are just too low. I followed the instructions on the clip as closely as possible but couldn’t feel any heat coming out. If you know what I might have been doing wrong please let me know, it’s still pretty cold here!

      • I find putting a second tealight surround in the hole of the outer pot helps trap the heat and it is then given off more slowly and you can feel it more – otherwise it tends to head straight for the ceiling

  6. If anyone has loose doors or windows, foam-strip draught excluders in the right place can make a really big difference – or use masking tape to seal the gap if it won’t need to be opened during the Winter.

    For big single-glass windows with wooden frames (ie. most not-new windows) a clear sheet of thick polythene, as found in garden-centres and diy shops, drawing-pinned across the frame can be very much better than nothing. Fold it over a few times at the edges to take the drawing pins without tearing. Over small windows, such as the opening ‘lights’ above the main window, a double thickness of clingfilm works fine, with the edges wrapped round strips of cardboard to take the drawing-pins.

  7. Wear the best quality socks you can afford. Two pairs of socks work well too. One thin pair with a thicker pair over the top. Nothing is more miserable than cold feet.

    Pile all your coats, towels and spare clothes on top of your duvet for extra warmth in bed.

    • When we were young we slept smothered in coats…even now I love the sensation of weight on me as I sleep, it makes me feel secure

  8. Something fluffly between the sheet and the mattress – a wool blanket will do, or fleece if you can get one. And bedsocks. Line the curtains and put clingfilm over the loft hatch. I am currently planning a big curtain for the door to the hallway.

    And a plea to wrap the little ones warm- warm gloves always, and tights / footmuffs. So sad to see their little fingers getting cold.

  9. Loving that hat chick! Do a patrol around the place and feel where any cold air is coming in and block it. I have thermal black out linings under my curtains for pulling across the windows in the winter…yes they are a small outlay (got mine on sale from that catalogue store lol) but they are great at keeping the warm in and the cold out (especially if you have windows that are draughty despite your best efforts to insulate them!) Same goes for doors…a small investment in a heavy curtain (charity shops are great for this) hung across the door even just with cheap curtain wire will go a long way to keeping the place warm. I also buy cheap tea light candles and light maybe half a dozen in the lounge….it’s amazing the heat they give off and well worth the few pence they work out at if you can stretch to it (apart from making you FEEL cosier!) Great tips Jack keep them coming :)

  10. As a student i’ve learnt loads of tricks.
    1)Once I finish cooking I leave the oven door open to heat the room.
    2)Pyjama bottoms tucked into socks
    3) Cups of tea to warm hands/insides and soul :)
    4) Eat spicier foods in winter.
    5) The Chinese actually drink and eat cold foods during winter to make your internal body the same temperature as the environment and you don’t feel as much cold.

  11. I have the laundry on the airer in front of the oven – if you have to use the oven at least the clothes get dry. And me and the kids used to have ‘snuggle nights’ all of us in bed watching tv and eating cereal and hot milk.

    • I do that with my bath towel which doesn’t seem to be drying much during the day at the moment. Stick it in front of the owv and hey presto it’s pretty much dry!

  12. Let your cats and/or dogs share your bed …. They keep you really warm and vice versa. I have 3 cats that like to position themselves thus….one in front of me as if he is on my lap but with me lying on my side with knees bent a bit, another behind me in the crook of my knees and the other lies full length along my side on top of me!! She is the smallest so fits well. Sometimes I get too hot, lol

  13. most of the builders i know swear by cheap ladies tights (the kind you get in packs of three or five) under their jeans in the winter and ive worn two pairs together when i had to wear a skirt for some reason. they do make a big difference

  14. Im a little scared, as a recent transplant from southern California to Glasgow, i am already wearing all the warm things all the time and am not sure how many more layers i can afford/fit under my coatM.

  15. I’m lucky enough to have a well-insulated house these days, but when i didn’t i used to find it much easier to stay warm in bed at night if I had a layer tucked in over the top of my duvet – ideally a blanket, but even a sheet helps – the duvet would be wrapped snugly around me, and the blanket over that stopped any heat escaping through gaps that emerged when I rolled over in the night. Once it was warm, it stayed warm.

    And when I worked in a grotty NHS office, winter duct tape round the windows helped to cut the drafts down a treat!

  16. I know not everyone can do this as it needs some up-front investment, but if you are going to be living in a place for a long time get a 2nd hand Rayburn (less trendy,cheaper version of an AGA) We burn waste wood and it cooks our food, heats our water and warms the house.I am a fan of inviting people round too that way our cheap warmth is shared and it is sociable.

  17. I’m very lucky to live in a warm south facing flat, but as a visitor to your cold Northern land from milder climes, I’m well familiar with the challenges of staving off the chill.

    Nothing keeps you as warm as not getting cold in the first place, I find; so thick-soled shoes and socks are a must, as are gloves and scarves. Do by all means tuck in your vest into your tights and your jeans into boot socks. Drafty bare patches let all the heat trapped by layers escape! A second vest, I find, can work wonders, counter intuitive as it sounds.

    Women: shop for jumpers and socks in men’s departments. Wool doesn’t drape as well as artificial fibers do, so women’s winter clothes are never as warm as men’s (damned patriarchal expectations of femininity!). Same goes for scarves, hats and especially especially coats. Do *not* waste your limited budget on a coat that is less than 70% wool (or less than 50% natural down if it’s a padded jacket). It will not keep you warm and will probably cost more that a guy’s peacoat would anyway.

    But if you do get chilled through, the best way to warm up fast is to have a scalding hot bath. Even just a few inches of the hottest water you can stand will warm you through, at which point quickly get dressed in lots of loose fluffy layers and thick socks to trap it all in.

    At night, tuck in your bedspread or a blanket over your duvet and under the mattress to create a seal all around it. You will warm up much faster and stay warmer if there are no drafty flaps letting the cold in. If your bedroom is really proper freezing, it’s important to sleep with a light hat on; you don’t lose heat faster through your head, that’s a myth – but the cold can give you a headache and affect the quality of your sleep.

  18. I invested in a big, fleecy dressing gown with a hood. It’s great for getting warm in the evening. Then I put it on top of my duvet, as an extra layer when I’m in bed. I also invested in a local window manufacturer re-insulating my bay window and replaced loose strips of plastic for under 20 pounds, much less than the cost of heat I would have lost over the winter.

  19. A friend gave me this handy tip & it works brilliantly; buy a pair of socks from the £ shop, cut off the toes & make a hole for your thumbs & voila! Perfect wrist warmers. My art room is freezing, but with these I can work away without my fingers going numb.

  20. Waft your hairdryer under the duvet for 20-30 seconds & instant heat. My kids think its great fun when I blast their feet under their makeshift tent (duvet),as did I when my parents did it with me & my sister when we were young!

    • Thought I was the only person who hair-dried the bed!! I hair dry my clothes before I put them on in the morning too!

      And someone beat me to the cling-filmed window trick – my teenagers thought I’d gone mad last year, but it definitely worked

    • My hubby doesn’t feel the cold, so we have a summer duvet all year round. We get ice on the inside of our windows!! So I have a single duvet which sits at the bottom of the bed until I start feeling that chilly feeling.!

  21. When I couldn’t afford heating, I used to have a fan heater pointed at my bed from about 6 feet away with the plug next to my bed. On a morning, I could turn it on at the plug, and have a minute or so of warmth to get out of bed and into my clothes.

    Also, if I got too cold, I’d do, say, 15 seconds of star jumps. You’d be amazed how quick it warms you up. :)

  22. I’m not going to pretend I’ll be uncomfortable this winter, but if there’s one thing that anyone looking for advice take away from this, it’s use thin layers.

    The thing about heat being lost through the head is partly true. It’s just because of the surface area that your head takes up. Imagine that area being exposed on your back or whatever and it makes sense to wear a wooly hat.

    There’s plenty of reusable hand warmers out there for a quid or so. If you check a cheapy golf website they’re normally selling them cheap. You “reset” them by shoving them in boiling water for a few minutes, which means that if you’ve cooked pasta or rice don’t throw the water away.

  23. If you do have an open fire, the old saying is it warms you twice, once when you chop/saw the wood, once when you burn it. You can split it into kindling with a hammer and chisel, you could use power tools, but they don’t warm you up.
    Skip dipping Is a source for your wood
    Woodland walks too for firewood , you can warm up with a brisk walk on a cold day, if you layer up, another old saying, no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing.
    I used to use calor gas heaters, in an unseated house, but they produce huge amounts of water vapour.
    Excellent blog Jack, and great comments too, I was beaten to the cling film secondary glazing.
    Another tip, join voluntary groups who meet in warm spaces like council buildings, community centres etc,I did.

  24. In the words of a poster I once had….”save energy…bathe with a friend” which tends to quickly lead to one of the best ways of keeping warm in the winter (my mother used to say there was a reason me and my sister were born 9 months after winter)

  25. I have wooden floors and find the cold really seeps through in the winter so now I have an old cushion I keep on the floor in front of the sofa to put my feet on.

  26. These tips are brilliant for sitting around. I have a problem when it comes to doing housework – cooking, washing up or cleaning mean I have to take some off the layers off eg long sleeves get wet so that’s the snuggie and jumper off. It’s ok-ish once I get going but usually I just don’t want to get out from underneath the living room duvet.

    My addition – fingertipless gloves for the computer. No need to buy them as such, old ones usually develop holes anyway. If only the tips of your fingers are sticking out, you are still able to type while most of your hand is covered.

  27. Before you take that hot shower, do some workout – there are exercises that can be done even in very small places, you may find things to use as gadgets, but if not, it should still be OK. It doesn’t really matter how much or how good you are at it, just keep doing it to get warm :-)

  28. I sometimes use a hair dryer to blast hot air under the duvet for a few seconds if the sheets are really chilled before I get in. Always take the duvet to the sofa in preference to putting heating on/up. Apparently knee high socks better than normal ones for cold feet as circulation to your feet is reduced when your calfs are cold. Got some lovely long fluffy ones from a certain shop.

  29. Opening out a sleeping bag and putting it over the duvet works – the reflective material on the top stops the cold getting through to the duvet in the first place. :)
    Also, the heated side of the bus is usually the left side :)

    Thanks for the great tips, Jack! :D

  30. Just one or two ideas we try regularly ‘cos they seem to make a difference. Bought some cheap fleeces which I pin on the lining side of curtains in winter. Two cheap fleeces with a hem pinned over a bean pole (cane) and hung in front of the window we can’t afford to put blinds in yet, take them down each morning complete as one piece, roll it up for the day. Two jeans legs with rolled up old towels inside make “sausages” that pin the bedroom curtains to the wall stopping the draft coming down the inside. (The sausages sit on the radiator shelf). H.M. double draught excluder (foam backed plastic from H.M. table protector) & two lengths of foam pipe lagging. Hot food & drinks, candles give the illusion of warmth & cosiness. we all have fleece pieces for sitting in living room of an evening. These go on the knees of family who work at desks in evenings. Always have wool blanket under the base sheet of any bed, insulates and wicks. I think illusons of warmth are important psychologically as all my family are hibernating creatures at heart and sometimes living like the Buckets is depressing. (=Grandparents head to toe in a large bed). The radiators? massive limits on times and temperatures, thermostats on each one, I don’t heat the house in a way that means the family can lounge comfortably in separate bedrooms, so we’re forced to socialise in the one room.

  31. Tuck your duvet in at the end and the edges. If it is too short, add a blanket just at the ends to tuck it in, it removes drafts around the feet and keeps body heat inside the duvet.

    Don’t get out of that bed unless you absolutely have to ;)

    Keep internal doors shut.

    Remember to get skylight blinds for all skylights including the ones at the top of the loft conversion in the hallway…you know the one you forget you have and that let’s all the heat of the house out through the roof ? (learnt from experience there!)

  32. Very sensible. Hot water bottle in bed a couple of hours before going to bed makes a huge difference. If it’s 1 with a cover it retains the heat all night; if not, wrap it up in a small towel before putting into the bed.

  33. Hang a blanket over front/back doors and over windows (under the curtains) and if stops any cold air coming in through the cracks! And stuff a leg of an old pair if tights with old/odd socks and use it as a draft excluder :-)

  34. Home made ‘Cup a soup’ – silly thing really …… just home made soup thinned down a bit but (this is the crucial bit) sipped from a mug rather than eaten with a spoon. Warming, cheap, nutritious and very comforting.

  35. I hate getting cold when I get undressed for bed then getting into cold bed, so I get into bed fully clothed and warm, (with dressing gown over the top) then put the cold pyjamas inside the dressing gown, then when I’m warm and toasty, I get undressed under the covers and put the warmed pyjamas on and put the dressing gown back on, takes a bit of practice but it means I’m always warm and then go to sleep!

    • I do this, especially when camping. On a particularly cold camping trip I used hot water borked to warm up my clothes before putting them on.

  36. I buy off cuts of carpets for around £15 for my laminated flooring, and when that’s tatty I use it for covering my Guinean pigs, far cheaper than buying a rug. If you can either know or crochet and have odd balls of wool laying around make scarfs, blankets etc, it will also keep you warm while your doing it. I’ve got an Aran blanket I made a few years ago for my bed, I put it ontop of my duvet and the weight of it is great, warms me up in no time.

  37. ooh, this is giving me flashbacks to the last two and a half winters spent living in a caravan with my Small Girl (and husband). we did all of the above, plus my husband propped big sheets of insulation against the sides of the caravan. two inches of Kingspan made a surprising difference, although it was still bloomin’ freezin’ and we only had one window we could see out of. oh happy days…
    we’re now in an actual house and i’m counting my many blessings.

  38. I spend a lot of times outdoors in the cold. A small silk scarf (old lady head scarf stylee) wrapped twice around the neck and tied helps keep the heat in. Or a fleece neck warmer. As soon as the temperature drops I’m hardly ever without fleecy head band over my ears or a hat. A good quality ski hat through winter keeps me toasty. Keeping your wrists warm cam help. You can buy suede wrist bands with flaps that go over the back of your hand. I think they are an item that shooters wear. Inside, house work keeps you moving and keeps your warm. Sweeping rather than vacuuming keeps your electric bill down and keeps you warm. I read a book about green living and vacuum cleaners are very inefficient, they create hot air.i suppose good for keeping your warm (?!).

  39. Living in Norway I really need to keep warm in the Winter.

    Two tips not mentioned so far: duvets are much warmer if you put an extra cover onto them. You still only need to launder the top one, but the additional layer traps extra air without compressing the filling (which a blanket or heap of clothing tends to do.) If you can find brushed cotton bedlinen (flannel/flanelette) this is an added bonus.

    Second: long skirts, layered with petticoats and leggings are warmer than trousers- believe me! Its those layers trapping air again. I frequently wear a petticoat and two skirts over leggings once the cold weather sets in.

    Also, when buying a coat, go for length. A jacket that stops at your hips is nowhere near as warm as an ankle length woollen coat. Keeping a soft scarf or buff around your neck, or wearing a high necked top helps too.

    Last but not least, a memory from long long ago Guide camps- my very elderly Guider always said that if you washed your feet before going to bed- even in freezing cold water- and rubbed them briskly dry, they would be warm at the bottom of your sleeping bag. My husband adds from Winter camping in his Norwegian army days- stuff all your spare clothes down inside your bedding so it is warm in the morning when you come to put it on!

  40. I used blankets too- just punched big grommets in corners and used hooks or rope to tie to the rails behind the curtains. Also one of the best insulators for windows is bubble wrap- the pockets of air stop the cold (or heat)

  41. just be careful, if you are blocking all the drafty areas, and then lighting something like the tealight heater / other heater, make sure you have some sort of fresh air / ventilation for the less pleasant bits of CO2 etc to leave by, if everything is blocked up tight and you burn things, you could make yourself rather ill (said whilst sitting in at least 6 layers of clothes feeling quite snug and toasty despite it being damned cold out there tonight!

  42. Thermal long johns plus thermal vest. £4 each from factory shop. Just as cheap as from the cheap shop, but yes-much warmer. Good Christmas pressie if you have peeps sling you.

  43. I think all my top tips have been covered here – I have also found that real wool, especially cashmere, is the warmest – a guernsey jumper is the best – totally un-flattering but so toasty, my daughter calls hers ‘the super-warm’. I’ve heard that the three areas where the blood comes to the surface in your body are the ones to keep warm – neck, ankles and wrists. When it’s freezing I layer two of everything everywhere and have always found thermals much easier to wear under jeans than tights for some reason. Two or more socks is essential. Socks into mittens is brilliant for trades who have to work outside, and my theory is it staves off arthritis in the hands…a big scarf or jumper tied round the waist keeps the kidneys warm – important since cold kidneys affect your health and make you miserable! I have some old Aigle Wellies that are neoprene lined and they are great. Do any tips exist on how to look glamorous and stay warm!!?? ; )) X

  44. You can quickly add a nice lining to your curtains to cosy them up for Winter using the existing rail by using a cheap lightweight fleecy blanket and shower curtain clips. Simply hang them on the inside of your curtains alternating the shower curtain rings with the rings on your curtain pole. They will then draw with your curtains and are easily removable in Spring.

  45. I warm my clothing with my hair dryer in the morning. I get a nice warm blast and my clothing isn’t freezing. When I lived in an old plastered walled house, I would hang blankets on the walls.

  46. My layers are 3 teeshirts, 2 sweatshirts, leggings, jog bottoms, and a thick woollen longish skirt over the top. When in the house I put on a fleece mans dressing gown over the top, it almost wraps around me twice. When going to bed I take off a couple of layers and keep the rest on until the bed is warm. I lie on top of a duvet, and have 2 duvets on top of me, like in a nest.

  47. I do a variation on the bed tent: the pillow trench. I have a lot of pillows on my bed to use as backrests when I read. In total: two buckwheat pillows, four regular pillows, two shams and a big “continental” size pillow. I only need one pillow for my head, so I line the others up two deep (except the big pillow which is double thick) on either side of me to make, in effect, a long trench. Then I pull the duvet up over the top. This has the effect of cutting down on the space you need to warm up. I’m all toasty in about two minutes, as well as protected from those arctic areas of the bed that parts of me would otherwise drift into by accident. If your feet are apt to get cold, you can put a hot water bottle at the far end of the trench to get those tootsies warmed up quick.

  48. Save your jobs like ironing till the evening as it helps you to keep warmer. Also, last year I found starting the day with an exercise DVD meant I didn’t need any heating on in the morninga. A brisk walk or short run has the same effect and keeps you fit at the same time.

  49. Make a tube out of a fleece blanket by folding one in half length ways and then sewing along one short end and up the open long side and then you can get inside it.

    Test what the length will be like by lying down on the blanket and make sure you’re happy with it.

    I’ve seen plenty of not too expensive throws in the bargain shops.

    I sleep inside one in bed and bring it down to get inside whilst watching TV on the sofa etc.

    If you have access to fabric in lengths instead of a blanket, leave a longer piece at the open end for wrapping around your shoulders or putting under or over the pillow.

    Sarah

  50. I put a hot water bottle in my bed under the duvet about an hour before I go to bed. The bed is toasty warm by the time you get in there. I take the bottle out at bed time as I don’t like to sleep with them in the bed. I also like those gloves with the finger tips missing for when I’m sitting in the living room and using the computer, under a blanket with my layers on. I look a fright, but I don’t care if I’m warm.

  51. Not an immediate solution but when replacing beds and sofas make sure you buy divans so they keep a lot warmer than frame furniture that has an air gap (potential draft) underneath.

    Old duvets, if not being used as an undersheet cosy for your own bed or cosy liner for a lounge chair make lovely warm pet beds. Just fold up and stuff down an old single duvet cover or sew a fleece blanket into a cover, this is so much cosier than the shop bought beds, they sink into them and look so content.

  52. following the rice in a sock idea, if you get hold of some really thick material and sew it into a reasonable sized rectangle, then fill it with barley before closing it up… you can heat it in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes and it forms what my family called quite simply, a “warm bag.” They stay warm for a considerable amount of time, and last forever. I’ve had some my grandmother made me when I was a child still going strong. Back then, we lived in Cape Town where there is no central heating. Blankets, tea and warm bags were essential! I also don’t like to wear too many layers indoors so I still use the same principles – thick gown, blanket and a warm bag and regular tea breaks : )

  53. If your heating is by radiators which are inevitably placed under windows don’t cover them with any form of curtain as this will trap the heat behind the curtain. This means you might need to shorten or hitch up long curtains if you have them.

    If you use a hot water bottle, instead of just using one of those cute but fairly flimsy hottie covers, also wrap it in a bath towel so that it is quite thickly wrapped. When you first get into bed it will be much more gently warm rather than that searing heat so that you can’t have the thing near you for fear of scalding, because it will be held in by the towel. On the other hand the heat will last so much longer in the hottie from being well insulated and you won’t have the awful cold rubber feeling of it when you wake a bit too early in the morning when it’s gone all cold. Also you’ll have a warm towel to use when you get up.

  54. Yes! Good work Jack! :)

    The evening shower thing is my favorite recent discovery.

    Two more…

    Natural fibres (Wool, silk, cotton a bit) = super-toasty! And you get more warmth even if you’re wearing less bulk. Obviously I’m not advocating buying posh wooly things new, but any fool can check fabric labels in charity shops. Even a percentage (say 25 plus) of natural something helps loads.

    Also, because blood circulates, you lose heat through areas with big superficial arteries. In practical terms, th
    is means keep your wrists/ forearms and neck well wrapped up. Also, washing up or running your wrists under hot water is a very speedy way to warm up.

  55. Pingback: Friday Round Up – Young people participating in arts and sports, keep warm this winter, George Orwell and poverty. | Activism Creative

  56. Hi Jack, Great Blog! How about the old tramp trick of wearing
    newspaper layers under your clothes to act as insulation.
    (there may be a use for the daily mail other than toilet paper after
    all)/

  57. if you’ve had a hot bath, leave the water in until it goes cold, it will heat the bathroom. I also heat the bathroom up with church candles.. makes it look nice too.
    block out all draughts – brushes on bottom of doors, or good old snakey draught excluders made from old trouser legs..
    Lidl was selling a fleecy blanket, which i use as a valance sheet – its soo cosy it makes it hard to leave the bed though.
    Brushed cotton pyjamas and sheets all the way!, and thermos flasks at the ready to save constantly boiling the kettle.
    If you can afford the initial investment, consider getting a wood burning stove, it soon pays for itself if you scavenge wood from skips / joiners yards / tree surgeons – you can also make old school baked potatoes in the embers.. Make sure you get it fitted correctly though, they are a carbon monoxide risk.

  58. We can’t afford to heat our house so this post came at a good time!

    I used to go camping a lot when I was younger, and a good tip is, if you keep your head warm and your feet warm then you are warm.

    I don’t understand the science exactly but it works (we lose more heat from our heads and our feet apparently, I think!)

    Also I find at night layering blankets works better than just having the one thick duvet.

    I also tend to built a nest out of blankets in the evening, which is nice and cosy. Oh when you’re working, fingerless gloves! Discovered that when I was a student!

    But great tips! I’ve forwarded this to a few friends!

  59. If I’m on my own in the evenings I will always skip getting the fire going and just cuddle up in my sleeping bag. My computer is in a particularly drafty corner so the sleeping bag works well here too. Last year I tried wrist warmers for the first time and was amazed at how much difference they made, I was warm but my fingers were still free to do stuff. I also have quite a few thin scarves that I wear throughout the cold months. Wear lots of slim layers including good old vests. We have electric blankets on all beds, it is much cheaper to heat the bed than the room – they are rarely on overnight though!
    Remember to open the windows in the mornings even if only for 1/2 an hour as we all generate a lot of moisture in our homes and it is very tempting to keep everything shut up throughout winter. Keeping the balance between good airflow and warmth can be a bit of a juggle sometimes. We found covering the airbricks with cowls on the outside cut out some of the worst draughts whilst still allowing ventilation.

    • We have really bad condensation in the winter, but there’s a problem with opening the windows if they’re all taped up and covered in plastic film to keep the drafts out! A lot of the tips I’ve read here seem likely to create more condensation (leaving the bath full, ironing in the evening etc.), as well.

      I’d love some tips on how to get rid of condensation, since it’s a bit of a health risk (I’m already on my first cold of the season after only half a week of condensation on my bedroom window). I have tried those cheap dehydrator granule thingies but they’re not very good. The only time the condensation goes away is when the heating is on permanently, but that’s never going to happen unless the fuel stops costing anything!

      Any tips Jack? Or probably your readers might have some — is it worth a post?

      • Charcoal (just the drawing stuff) – I hide it in the potporri in the bathroom – that sorts out the condensation quite well

  60. I feel the cold very easily and happen to live in a cold house and work in a FREEZING shop, so here are some extras (sorry if I’m repeating anyone else):
    – Look in the men’s section of charity shops for huge wool jumpers.
    – Keep your neck and chest covered at all times. The big pashmina-type scarves from market stalls are brilliant and they are so huge they double up as a shawl / blanket / hood / whatever you need.
    – I have this enormous knitted 80s roll neck jumper that mum gave me – if anyone else has parents who’ve kept old stuff they never wear anymore, it’s worth asking them if they have any woollies to spare!
    – If your bathroom has an extractor fan, switch it off and tape a plastic bag over it to stop cold air coming in.
    – If you own a pair, wear legwarmers over your jeans when at home. They work a treat.
    – In the evenings, sit in bed for a while (drinking tea, reading, whatever). So when you want to go to sleep it’s already nice and warm.
    – Finally, why wear just one vest when you can wear three…

  61. Pingback: chickpea curry and our favourite things on the internet | The Conscious Student

  62. Ive put a door curtain up, hand me down curtains are so brilliant, it’s cut the heat lose in the hall way so much! I tape up around all my metal windows that I don’t need to open, masking tape does the job for most of the winter, make your own lap quilt from fabric scraps doesn’t matter what the material is or even the shape tbh, its warm and rather pretty more by accident than by design.

  63. For the window condensation there is a strip sold by the roll I think it used to be called drip strip but you can still find it . Measure across bottom of window & cut a length to fit, you then leave on window ledge as near to were window is at the bottom & it collects damp you can wring & dry out & replace. These worked really well when we moved into a new house where walls had not properly dried out so loads of moisture around & they are fairly cheap to buy. I have seen them on e bay but I don’t know about shops.
    Another idea is to use a top sheet under your duvet, tucks in & keeps in warmth, it’s only recently people have stopped doing this also helps to keep duvet cover fresher. The under blanket is good as well but if you can afford one a feather bed topper is the best, they are so warm & snuggly like sleeping on a pillow. I had mine bought as a present but if you can run to one they pay for themselves in time. Not just as good but still keep plenty of heat in is a duvet on mattress. Always remember to open windows for a time in the morning as condensation & damp are very bad for your health & once you have damp it is very hard to get rid off, always make sure windows are shut early before temperature drops. Stuff any gaps where pipes come in from outside, newspaper or old carrier bags do a decent job. Always lock outside doors when your in as they fit snugger than unlocked ones. If you dry laundry inside keep a window open in the room they are in as this is one of the main causes of damp. Check for signs you are causing damp, it usually starts in corners or skirting boards or places that don’t get aired well. It can end up costing a fortune to get rid off as is really bad for a child’s health. If you use oven always leave door open when you have turned off, my kitchen is always lovely & cosy when I do this.

  64. The first cottage I lived as a newly wed in 1985 was so cold that I slept fully clothed, including duffle coat, all winter. We had a bathroom window that wouldn’t close and if a snowed a little drift would form on the window sill.The worse thing was the outside loo which would freeze over.We used to have to run across the road to use the public toilets at the car park. We were both employed, nurse and teacher, but a cold damp house is a cold damp house so we emigrated to the Sunshine Coast Australia. Sorry

  65. I always used to put my children in sleeping bags in their normal beds to save those middle night shouts of ‘Mum, Im cold’ And of course the hot water bottles which fit nicely into a small jumper so you don’t get burnt, and its’ all toasty to wear again in the morning. My mum told me that during the war they’d use their water bottle water in the morning to wash in.They all had it hard then though.

  66. Soup as a drink if tea gets too boring throughout the day.
    Thermals from Primark are really good and pretty cheap. More than one pair of socks. Not staying still for too long.

  67. I put a sheepskin in my chair, a waterbottle for the lower back.
    Hot footbath before going to bed, ginger and lemon in my tea.
    Dance to the music, singing and jumping.

  68. Put a fleece blanket ( mine is just fabric from my local cheap fabric shop) on top of your bed sheet- really makes that getting into a cold bed easier. And I get really cold hands due to a medical condition- so I wash the dishes and that warms them right up! Use laddered tights stuffed with carrier bags as a draught excluder if you are not handy with a sewing machine. I cut up and crochet my sons ( old wrecked) clothes into rugs which help keep the floor warm.

  69. Don’t throw holey knee-high socks away – just cut off the feet and they make excellent ‘sloves’!

    You can wear them as an extra leg-warmer layer under jeans or as fingerless mittens – stops drafts going up your trouser legs/ sleeves.

      • At home during the day for the first time in ages – never tried wrist warmers before – but I’m now enlightened – I’ve managed to keep the heating off all day (plus I’ve got loads of jobs done cos as soon as I get cold I stand up and do something!) I’m going to love going to work tomorrow though just because I’ll be warm – how crackers has lift become?

  70. When I was freezing in what turned out to be an uninhabitable cottage in darkest Hampshire, I used an army surplus sleeping bag I picked up for £20.

  71. This subject is a no brainer. This is where I take direct advice from our esteemed politicians. In winter I get a second (or third) job which means I spend less time at home and when I am at home I can afford to whack the heating up which keeps everyone happy. Like I said, total no brainer.

  72. My daughter (11 years old) had taken to sleeping in her dressing gown with a “hottie”. We bought another duvet for her so now its up to 30 Tog.

    For daytime wear a gillet i.e. sleeveless coat, is really useful as it leaves your arms free.

    To stop an outside toilet from freezing up use a small parafin lamp. The sort designed for heating greenhouses is ideal. My grandmother used to do this until the early 1980’s when she moved to a modern flat. I use her lamp.

  73. Pingback: How to keep warm in a freezing cold flat | The Conscious Student

  74. I’m wondering how warm you would be if I put up a tent in my living room! It would stop all the draughts!

    If you had small children to keep warm all day you could make a game of it (thankfully me and the teenager are out at work and school all day – I have no idea how I would keep us warm all day)

  75. at this moment i’m wearing 1 pair of fleece pyjama bottoms tucked into woolen socks and over that an ankle lenght woolen skirt. a mostly cotton turtleneck, a woolen jumper, a fleece jacket that’s very lose and long and a fleece throw over my shoulders.
    at night i have a hot bath , doesn’t need to be much water but hot, and a hot water bottle and fingerless gloves for reading while wearing a cotton nighty, over that a fleece nighty and a fleece robe and several blankets +duvet.
    to sleep i take all that off though as well as for going out. i hate having a cold house generally, even in summer i take clothes off to go out and of course health problems that mean i need warmth. i have an electric cape [lidl] for pain relieve that’s great for warming up as well.
    a hat/hood is great too, in bed and out.

  76. I do the same things! I stick to one room generally but as the kids toys are upstairs in their room and the tumble dryer is on the landing, I put that on instead as it’s cheaper to run than electric heating! While they’re playing, I’ll do housework, only use one light at a time, curtains are closed constantly (made myself with thermal lining from ebay). In the evenings, me and OH usually chill out on the sofa or in bed with blankets/rice bags. The kids wear their fleecey pyjamas to bed, with a fleece blanket as a sheet, another fleece blanket under the duvet too. If they’re wearing a 2 piece set, everything gets tucked into each other, top in to trousers, trousers in to socks etc. The only time the heaters are on is in the morning for an hour, kids bedroom and oil heater in front room as. Batch cooking also helps to keep warm too. Only have one light on at a time, one telly etc to save on electric to use if we need heating. A decent pair of thick slippers too with socks!

  77. If you have blankets for your bed, make sure you have them under your duvet. Putting blankets over a duvet squashes the air bubbles, but putting them under the duvet (and tucking them in to exclude the drafty edges), really helps. When I was at uni, I had 2 big bath towels, so I would layer up all my blankets and towels, and sleep inside a sleeping bag, all under a duvet, and on top of a duvet as well.

  78. Rice socks can catch fire in the microwave, do be careful.

    I feel the cold more than my partner, and have sewn an extra single duvet on one half of our double duvet, just catching it at the four corners.

  79. Space blankets (very thin silver foil sheets) sold in pound shops and outdoor pursuit stores or on amazon / ebay, attached to curtains will reflect any heat back into the room instead of allowing it to escape. In the bedroom I have pinned one to the ceiling to stop my precious heat escaping into the loft.

  80. Hope this helps someone…You can look this up on YouTube for a video showing exactly how to apply bubble wrap to your windows…type in …How to insulate your windows with bubble wrap…Or below is the how to:
    You will need. bubble wrap, a spray bottle with water and a exacto / razor blade type knife. Mist the water onto your window. Push the bubble side of the wrap against the window. The water will hold the bubble wrap to the window all winter. Use the knife to trim off any extra bubble wrap so it completely covers the glass. The bubble wrap will insulate the window the same way double pane windows insulate your house.

  81. Repeating: Small kids in sleeping bags, hot water bottles, bed socks, draft exclusion
    Furthermore:
    Log skirt over trousers (top tip!), tramps gloves made from chunky single kids socks, men’s shirts on top of woolly jumpers (if it is really cold),
    If you get chilblains a little alcohol is really helpful (taken internally)
    Find out where to warm up out there: library, swimming pool, shopping centres, friends’ houses
    If it is really, really cold, three hot, wet meals a day (porridge, soup or stew, milk rice), plus plenty of hot tea in between.
    Old-fashioned, non-energy-saving lighting to give a little extra heat to my work or reading place.

  82. Hi,

    Of course clothes will help you to keep yourself warm, however you need to check your loft insulation too. Most areas are entitled to free loft insulation, thanks to 100% grants from the affordable warmth scheme.

  83. I’m probably repeating others here, but one of the best ways I’ve found as a student to keep warm is to go somewhere warm! I’m lucky in that I’m close to my heated university library which is open until 10pm (and they don’t object to you eating hot food there in certain places), but anywhere that’s warm and free/cheap works, such as public libraries, big shopping centres or even lurking around the hot food counter in the supermarket! When it comes to bedtime, something fully/fuzzy on top of the sheet (a fleece blanket, spare duvet, even an adults sized fleece) makes it bearable. Something thin and fuzzy under the main duvet also helps- it’s close to your skin to trap the warmth and the weight of the duvet(s)/blankets keep it in pas close as possible to your skin for warmth. Also, cuddle something/someone! Even snuggling up to a rolled up jumper or something seems to help make everything that bit cosier, even if it’s pyschological

    Food. When you get hungry/energy reserves are low, your body will focus it’s efforts on keeping all your organs going and stuff. Regular hot food/drink (even drinking hot water) all helps a lot to keep the cold out. Your body uses more energy to regulate temperature in winter, so tea becomes vitally important. I have a friend who likes to curl up on the sofa under several blankets with her laptop to do uni work using a flask as a hot water bottle so she doesn’t need to disturb the pockets of warm air for tea/soup- the stronger seals also make them (slightly) safer than hot water bottles regarding potential leakage.

    Also, make sure that everything is free from damp, not just because of mould, but damp=cold. At home we have an electric dehumidifier which works wonders in removing the excess moisture in the air, and some models will even blast out warm-ish air, and it’s one of the things I miss most at uni. If not, cracking open the windows for a bit is crucial- if it’s really too cold for that, then drying washing outside,in a ventilated bathroom stops everything getting cold and damp

    One thing I discovered at about 4am last year when I could hear the wind coming through the front door is that rolling a few towels around each other (I used a bath towel and 2 hand towels because that was what I had in my laundry bin at the time!) makes a great impromptu draught stopper which is easy to clean, ‘moulds’ to any cracks in the door and isn’t full of a filling potentially harmful to pets. It’s also easy to pull out when your housemate tries to open the door without removing it first!

  84. Fantastic tips, love reading what works for others and trying them out for myself, thanks to all for their contribution.Hopefully when I have some of my own I can share them with others.

  85. If you have condensation spend all your time in the room that has the least windows/doors/ outside walls, we keep to our living room/kitchen and have a wood stove so it gets pretty warm, the 2 doors are hung with really heavy curtains/blankets and we keep this room isolated from the rest because if not as soon as the heat gets to the cold outside walls/windows of the other rooms they run with condensation. This means that the bedroom is pretty cold but the bed with hot water bottles, flannel sheets, blankets and a duvet on top like an old-fashioned eiderdown is very warm. We warm our pijamas and put them on in the living room, and make a dash for it. When we go to bed we leave the living room door shut so it is still warm in there in the morning. Worst is the bathroom but as its small we bought a low watt (50w/80w)electric towel rail which we leave on all night drying towels or other clothes, (with door shut) this serves to take the chill off, and bliss hot towels to dry on in the morning. Put daytime clothes in the bed for a little while as soon as you get up, or leave them in the living room and they will be warmer to put on too.

  86. My morning tip for dressing is to do it under the covers before your feet hit the ground. I have a large flat with a tiny kitchen so my daughter will bring her clothes in the kitchen and use the heat from the cookerr and kettle It a tight squeeze but makes mornings warmer for all

  87. Laugh in good company. Invite an elderly neighbour in for a hot drink,staves off loneliness and more heat generated. Most important,think ahead,watch the weather forecast…if its gonna be a windy freezing day leave the curtains shut…but if the suns going to shine even if its freezing,let the sunlight in.and always eat a breakfast if you can.
    This year has the ingredients for a harsh winter,wrap up well xxx

  88. Thermal scarf neck tube warmer really good. Dont need messing around with, like a scarf.
    Not forgetting woolly hat. + as mentioned earlier a ski suit.
    As i type this in bed got these things on + more woollies + the electric blanket on low.

  89. As a male, i have just discovered ladies thermal tights are really warm. If legs irritate or feel cold cut tight legs off, say 150mm at a time.
    Also growing a beard is warm, [ probably a little difficult for you ladies out there.]
    And dont forget to have something really warm to stand on while getting changed for bed.
    Oh, and a thermal ‘snood’ is better than a neck tube, when it is really icy.

  90. Hi Jack. Re: the science of heat loss from yeer heid – you sometimes hear or read pro-hat people saying, “(surprisingly big number)% of the heat you lose is through the thing on top of your neck”. That’s true, but only when you’re all wrapped up (like you are); when you’re inside a coat, most of you is insulated, but your head isn’t – so a large fraction of the heat you’re emitting necessarily leaves through the head. But that’s a large fraction of a very much reduced total. Easy. (Wake up at the back.)

    I’m a first-time poster. While I’m here, I might as well mention my admiration for the way that you dug yourself out of a very deep hole and turned things around. It’s terrific that you found you had big big talents for cooking and communication, and worked hard to develop these and make best use of them. I hope these strengths continue to bring you the success you deserve. And the way you speak up for people who are still struggling as you were is beyond praise.

    (Will that do?)

  91. Yeah I do layers too but in middle age it adds to the waistline rather! Thanks for all the great recipes and tips. My winter tips: masking tape over inside keyhole, fleece off-cut wrapped snugly round fireguard (when fire unlit!) cut down draughts. Every October near I go to Wickes and buy their secondary glazing film – with landlord’s permission I stick it to window frames with the double-sided tape (provided) and shrink it flat with hair-drier. (Other DIY emporia may also sell similar). Cuts draughts and reduces condensation (make sure you can open doors or door & one small window to air out briefly on sunny afternoons to get rid of moisture). Treated myself to £15 electric underblanket – cheaper than heating room – I toast up bed then switch off before going to sleep, also put on briefly in evening as sit in sofa-bed to ready (cheaper than heating room). I was told never to put boiling water in hot-water-bottle, and don’t over-fill. I use at least 20% cold tap water before putting hot in. Stay warm, only just over 4 weeks until solstice and lengthening days

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