Alternative ways of keeping warm

This blog post may or may not have affiliated links on it. For more information see my Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

Don’t want to turn the heap pump on? Or light the fire? But you also hate the feeling of wearing 15 layers, as it restricts your movement?

I’m always on the look out for ways to keep warm that don’t use the heater. While I wouldn’t describe my personality as cold-blooded, my feet never got the memo! Over the years I’ve looked up and experimented with alternative ways of keeping warm, which you can read below!

Drink a hot drink

Alternative ways of keeping warm - A hot drink.
Only hold it by the handle if you’d get third degree burns otherwise.
Photo credit: SnapbyThree MY

Hot chocolates were made for cold days! Or, if you’re not a dairy fan you can have a tea, normal or fruity (Apricot and Passion fruit is my tea of choice). Of course, if it’s morning, why pass up on a coffee? All these drinks warm up your hands first and then your whole body as you drink it.

For those on the go, here’s a takeaway mug I can recommend. Plastic, in my opinion, absorbs the taste of whatever has gone in the cup beforehand, which is fine if you only ever drink the same drink. I am not such a person. Metal also leaves an unpleasant aftertaste.

This takeaway mug is made out of three pieces:

  • the outer cup, made of plastic to give some insulation,
  • the inner cup, made of glass, so even if you forget your fruity tea bag in there, the taste of it can be washed out in time for your morning coffee, and…
  • the lid, made of plastic, because silicone lids in my opinion tend to leak because physics.

Be immersed in hot water

Because would you read this point if I said do the dishes?

Right after you have warmed your fingers on a hot drink you can stand over a steamy sink to wash your cup. Having one part of your body in hot water can help warm up the rest of your body. And this way you can also do something useful, because who doesn’t have a consistent flow of dishes that need doing? I do right now…

A small amount of water will always go a long way, so if you don’t want to drain your hot water cylinder with a full hot bath you can always economise with a foot bath. An excellent way to warm up what for most people must be the coldest part of their bodies, while also having a good excuse to not do housework (my feet are wet right now).

If you have a bit more hot water on hand then a shower is another great way of warming up, provided your shower works well.

Towels on the floor

Alternative ways of keeping warm - Towels.
So easy to clean!
Photo credit: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

As you may have picked up on, my feet get cold. I don’t like wearing slippers, as I find the sweat from my feet is quite rapidly absorbed by them and they then keep my feet cold, rather than warm (gross I know, but I can’t be the only one).

This is why we have two old towels folded up on the floor in the kitchen. When I am doing the dishes or cooking I stand on one, which provides a great insulation barrier between me and the floor.

Why not buy dedicated and nicer looking mats for your kitchen? Because they get dirty and other than beating them I don’t know how you would clean mats. Using old towels is great, as when they get dirty you can shake them out and throw them in the washing machine. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Another great benefit to having towels on the floor is the instant spill mop you have sitting there ready to go. Spill a few drops of water on the floor? No need to get a cloth, you have a towel at your feet! A massive spill won’t have the chance to get underneath your fridge, oven or dishwasher, as you’ll have an absorbent foot towel ready and waiting for just such an occasion.

Baking or roasting

While we’re in the kitchen, the oven is a great source of heat. Granted, it’s perhaps more expensive than the heat pump (heat pumps are actually quite cheap), but if you’re needing a cookie to go with your hot chocolate, why pass up the chance of heating up the oven? Whoever your living with will forgive you the heating bill in exchange for some freshly baked cookies or muffins.

And we all need to eat meals at some point during the day. Everyone hopefully regularly partakes in some sort of evening food consumption. Why not be both healthy and hot by making a roast? It doesn’t have to be roast meat (chicken, lamb etc). It can be your humble roast potatoes, carrots, onions and beetroot. I recommend adding garlic too.

Bonus recipe! Chop up some carrots, slice some streaky bacon and squeeze the juice of an orange over the top. Bake this at 180 degrees Celsius/356 Fahrenheit for about an hour (optional: add some chopped up prunes).

Keep moving

Alternative ways of keeping warm - Exercise, like running, will heat you up.
Run, run as fast as you can!
Photo credit: Jos Zwaan

Movement creates heat. It’s a physics/chemistry thing. Utilise this! Go for a run, or just run on the spot for the length of a song. Do some yoga (yoga takes a surprising amount of effort) or even just 10 star jumps. Doing this is free and will help warm you up if you’re cold, plus it’s good for you.

And who says it has to be unpleasant movement? There’s a reason a certain activity is referred to as ‘getting hot and steamy’. Of course, there’s a time and a place for such an activity, so don’t get busy in inappropriate ways. That’s not okay.

While we’re in the bedroom, when was the last time you changed your sheets or aired out your mattress? Water heats up slower than air, or another way of putting it, water takes more energy to be heated up than air does. So if your bed sheets and mattress have absorbed sweat (or other fluids) then they’ll take longer to warm up than new sheets and a freshly aired out mattress would.

Of course changing sheets requires you to move, so that in itself counts as exercise, amiright?

Electric gadgets

Staying in the bedroom we have the beloved electric blanket. These are very cheap to run and can heat up a small space in no time! Also, who says they need to stay in the bedroom? While your having a foot bath your bum can be resting on something quite warm as well!

If you want to be really fancy, then a Kotatsu is something you may want to invest in. This is a Japanese coffee table, which has a removable top, so you can put a duvet/comforter/blanket between the frame and the top, which will trap heat underneath. They also come with electric heaters underneath, so this is probably the ultimate awesome way of keeping warm!

In saying that I own neither an electric blanket or a Kotatsu. Perhaps when my future youngest child is at school and we have a bigger house I will invest in a Kotatsu. It is a sort of dream of mine. In the meantime I will have to stick to towels on the floor and exercise.

Leaving the house

Why would I go outside where it is even colder? Because outside has public spaces and some of these are heated.

In Christchurch we have an amazing network of libraries, which are all heated spaces. Do be aware though, this can be a bit of a false economising scheme. If you go out of the house to save $5 on heating, but then buy a $5 coffee and crash the car, you would have been better off staying at home (this may have happened to me).

And lastly spending time with friends is a great way to economise on heat. Plan to spend one day at a friend’s place and have them spend a day at yours so you’re only heating up one space at a time. Or, if you’re flatting, spend time in the living room instead of your own bedrooms. That way you’re only heating up the one space, rather than several.

Of course, at the end of the day, staying warm is essential to staying alive. While having alternative ways of keeping warm is great, don’t leave the heater off if you have kids and it’s snowing outside.

Perhaps finances are tight, but going to the doctor with sick kids and needing to buy medicine is not a great way to spend time and money either. And, as I said, heat pumps are quite cheap. Why not all sleep in the same room to save heat overnight too?

Alternative ways of keeping warm - Hot drinks are only one way.
Photo credit: Alisa Anton