October 2, 2013

A Cheapo's Winter Survival Guide

Sherie and I...aren't we lovely!?
By Sherie
Introduced by Amy

Remember Sherie, my sister?  She's freaking funny.  Since winter's a comin', she is sharing her wisdom about how to keep yourself from freezing your little bum off, when you're tooo cheap to turn up your heat.  Read her bio here, along with a couple of her other awesome posts:

"Your Kid Said WHAT?!"  
"Parents of the World Take Back Your Friday Nights!" 
"Home Stylin':Sherie's Mid-Centruy/Modern Home"

Oh, and by the way friends, did you miss the previous 2 posts?  They weren't posted on a Tues, Weds, or Thrus....which is when I usually post.  (I suck at schedules, peeps!  Thank you for being patient with me!)  On Friday, I posted an interview by a wise and experienced momma, Holly (my momma in law!) where she gives us younger mommas (and future mommas!) some valuable insight about kids, extra curricular actives, and how not to get 100% overwhelmed.  Read it here.  On Sunday, I posted my thoughts on Faith and Marriage: "Your Spouse Can't Heal You."  This one, I've been pondering and working on for a while.  It was hard to put in to words what had been in my heart for a long time...I tell you about my less than blissful "newlywed" months.  I hope you enjoy both posts!  

But now...back to Sherie.  :)

Our house is old.  Like over a hundred years old.  Surviving through the winter with paper-thin insulation and cheapskate attitudes can be a challenge.  If you have one of those fancy, new houses built in the 80’s with your “level doorways”, “up-to-code stairs”, and “evenly spaced studs”, then this article is not for you.  Maybe look for a blog about crocheting doilies, because this is NOT for the faint of heart.  Seriously, if you have a heart condition, consult your doctor before buying a house dating back to pioneer time.  To be on the safe side – don’t even read this.  For those who DO have an old, drafty house, I hear you George Bailey.  I can sense your anguish when you step onto your tile floor without socks.  Today I’m here to help.  I’m a seasoned veteran in the world of cold and cheapskate and below are some tips to help you cope through the cold days of late fall through early spring.

1) Layers, Layers, Layers 

The cold-house novice might think a light jacket is enough to keep warm… hardly.  I recommend necessary under-clothing, cotton shirt, and a thick jacket or two thin sweaters – color-coordinating of course.  Long-johns are nice on the bottom, but can be too tight if they’re 15 years old and you’ve had five kids.  Jeans or thicker pants, like sweats are appropriate if want to look like a mom with five kids and on your feet a thick pair of socks and a really cute pair of slipper-boots.  These boots CAN be placed in the wash and try to think of it before they stink badly and you’re considering throwing them away.  Last of all, throw a blanket around your entire body chest down and you’re ready to tackle the household chores!  This is also a great time to grow your hair out.  It covers your neck like a built-in scarf and works well at night to cover ears and get in husband’s mouth.  That won’t make him warmer, but his sputtering will make you laugh can help warm you a little.  Gotta be creative.

2) Don’t worry about the older kids - save yourself. 

From ages 2 – 9, kids don’t really feel cold when they’re indoors.  Don’t waste body heat telling them to put their socks on or wear a jacket in the house – they don’t feel it and don’t care.  Yes, their hands and feel will feel like ice to the touch, but don’t let that sway you.  They don’t care and you’ll spend more energy picking up socks and jackets scattered around the house (though this can work to your advantage if you like to warm yourself but moving rapidly… I prefer the lazier method of not moving with blankets and hot chocolate).  Babies on the other hand should be dressed warmly and a tip from a fellow cold-houser: put TWO pairs of footed jammies on them.  They’ll look like the kid on A Christmas Story, but will stay warm and won’t move….all…night.

3) Move quickly or very slowly – none of this mid-speed stuff. 

Everything needs to be done at super speed or slow motion to either make heat via friction or conserve as much heat as possible.  Think Road Runner and a sloth (speaking of sloths...).  Can do a combination of the two or stick mostly with one.  I prefer the sloth method… but more so a sloth with a blanket and hot chocolate.  One of the biggest mistakes is to move too quickly from one room to the next.  When traveling through a doorway, always slow down so the cool air circulating in the next room doesn’t slap you in the face as you enter.

4) Okay, NOW hot chocolate 

This is a delicious, chocolatey drink you can buy or make at home in a powdered form.  Heat a mug of water to boiling and stir in too much powder so it’s delicious.  In sloth speed, take to the couch to drink while wrapped in a blanket either watching tv or helping child with homework.  Hold the mug in your hands for at least three minutes so your hands are warm enough to stir without jerking around.  Drink when piping hot which will burn your tongue, but will be worth it as it sets your insides on fire… mmm…..hot fire…..

5) Areas of the house to avoid 

A few rooms in your house will be colder than others and are to be completely avoided.  Any room that does not have a furnace vent, the damp basement (take clothes to laundromat – it’s probably warmer there too), closets, or your upstairs children’s rooms.  When sending them to bed, make sure they’re wearing winter pajamas and have multiple blankets on their bed, but don’t linger.  Better to stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell at them to get back in bed “or else” then to risk getting chilled or your blanket to come unwrapped as your walk up the stairs.  If you have decent insulation, then your problem will be if your kids are in the basement.  Same rules apply.

Ok, here's a better pic!  Sherie with her cute baby!
6) Leave home 

Need a few things from the store?  Perfect – head to Target to pick them up and get the feeling back in your toes.  Don’t need anything?  Perfect – head to Target and wonder aimlessly until you’ve filled your cart with cute but unnecessary things.  Nothing warms the heart like a good bargain.

I hope these tips help you this winter.  Just think of all the money you’re saving by keeping your thermostat at 68.  It’s probably not that much because your heat is seeping out the holes in the roof, but you need something to hang on to.  Memories of the $300+ heating bill a few years ago will continue to haunt you and will help you stay strong when the temptation comes to crank it up to balmy 70.  Just remember you’re not alone in your suffering and apply the above tips to make this winter not quite enjoyable, but doable.  Like the Pioneers.


Ha...THis post makes me SO glad that utilities are included in my rent!  How about you?  Do you and your family try to stay on the frugal side when it comes to heating or air conditioning your home? Would you rather suffer and save money or crank up the heat (and the bill...)?  


  1. "Heat a mug of water to boiling and stir in too much powder so it’s delicious" Ha! :D So, so true.

  2. Man - that sounds terrible! I'm sure glad I don't live at your house ;-)


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