Introducing Frugal Fridays + Cheap Girl’s Tips for Staying Warm in the Winter – life+running

Introducing Frugal Fridays + Cheap Girl’s Tips for Staying Warm in the Winter

Frugal Fridays // chimesdesign.com/blog

I’m notoriously cheap, er, frugal.

Hi, my name is Calee, and I have a sickness. I am a level of frugal some might say borders on demented. I like to save money on things that I don’t like to pay for (like heat, groceries, gas, etc.) so we I can splurge on things we I love (like restaurants, vinyl, and video games pedicures). Many of my frugal tips I learned from a long line of fellow cheapsters—most notoriously of which is my dad.

I don’t plan to post every Friday but will try to post semi-regularly. Sort of like my Sweet Tunes Thursdays, but without the music and for cheap people. Each post will contain a bunch of tips or one big tip with in-depth information (such as the meal-planning with Evernote post I’ve had on deck for more than a year).

Pssst…Being cheap is good for the environment and your health.

Even if you have no interest in saving money, I bet you have an interest in either your health or the environment. (If not, I’m not really sure why you read my blog.) Most of my frugal habits are also good for the environment. It makes sense: consume less, use fewer resources, and create less waste. These same cheapster habits, such as walking to work to save on parking and gas, are good for my health.

Let’s get to today’s tips!

Cheap Girl’s Tips for Staying Warm in the Winter

It’s so freaking cold outside right now. It was -10° here when I woke up this morning. My New England friends are dealing with piles of snow and high tide flooding along with their freezing temperatures. How do you stay warm without the resulting $400 heating bill?

Adjust Your Thermostat

This is a no-brainer: don’t want to spend money on heating? Don’t use as much heat.

  • Turn your heat down a degree every couple of weeks.
    • You’ll get used to the colder temperature and the extra degree cooler won’t feel so chilly.
      • We started in October with 67° and are at 63°.
  • Turn your heat down at night and while you’re away from the house. 
    • Try not to turn your heat below 55° because pipes (especially those on exterior walls) can freeze and/or burst.
      • 55° is the temperature that popped up in all my searches, so don’t quote me on that if you think you can go lower. (But don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
  • Pick up a programmable thermostat.
  • Run the fan to circulate the air.
    • I don’t know if this works as well in the winter as it does in the summer, but it certainly helped our home stay cool in the summer for less money. We are trying it this winter.

Heat only the area you’re using

If you balk at 63° just know that I’m not actually sitting in 63° at home because I keep my proximity heated.

  • Use a portable space heater to warm the area you’re inhabiting.
  • Use heated and/or heavy blankets at night (and keep the thermostat down).
  • Close off rooms you don’t use by shutting the registers and the doors.
    • Shutting the registers will push more heat to areas you want heated.

Dress Appropriately—inside.

  • Did somebody say “long underwear”?
    • I love wearing cozy layers, so I often wear leggings under sweatpants, sweatshirt, and a robe around the house.
  • Wear that knitted gear that your grandma/aunt/I made for you.
  • Invest in a cozy robe. 
    • Mark got me this one for Christmas (for less than $25!).

Cuddle up!

Whether you have a four-legged friend or two-legged friend, cuddle up next to them under a blanket.

  • Four-legged friends’ body temperatures run higher than ours so they are great little winter cuddle buddies.

Winterize your house

These aren’t necessarily cheap or quick fixes, but are things you can do to make your house hold in the heat you pump into it.

  • Change your air filter. 
  • Get an energy efficiency audit done.
    • Most energy companies offer this for a small fee.
      • Xcel Energy offers this for $70 and will bring in materials to help you save money right away (such as programmable thermostats, low-flow shower heads, etc.)
    • This audit will tell you where you are losing most energy to help you plan for upgrades (in our house it’s the old windows and the lack of attic insulation).
    • Some energy companies (including Xcel) offer reimbursements if you upgrade your home to be more energy-efficient.
  • Use shrink plastic insulation over windows (and doors you don’t always use).
    • This can eliminate drafts, especially from old and/or cheap windows (ahem, my entire house).
    • You can pick up a kit to do most of your home for $20.
    • Legend has it that my great grandma was so frugal that she used the same piece of plastic for years. I aspire to be this cheap frugal.
  • Consider energy-efficient appliances and windows for your next appliance/window purchase.

Get out of (your) House!

Heat is so much cheaper when the bill is on somebody else! Leave the house, crank that thermostat down, and head somewhere (free/cheap and) warm. Plus, getting out of the house in the winter helps with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Here are my favorite free/cheap places to go to stay warm in the winter.

  • The gym (if you already have a membership).
    • If you don’t want to do a hardcore workout, walk around the track and listen to a podcast, sit in the sauna and pretend it’s summer, or lazily bike while catching up on Netflix.
    • One winter I watched most of the NFL playoff games at the gym while walking on a treadmill.
      • Be mindful of other people who want to use the equipment if you’re just there for the heat.
  • The library. 
  • A coffee shop.
    • I like to write, knit, or embroider at coffee/tea shops.
    • Be sure to purchase a few things throughout your stay (and tip).
      • Um, this might not be cheaper than paying for heat for a day…but it’s enjoyable!
  • Museums.

    • Most museums are free or donation-based, and with the money you save on heating maybe you could send in a donation?
      • Hey, I’m frugal, but I like to support local arts.
  • The home of a friend who isn’t as frugal as you. 😉
What are your favorite tips for staying warm on the cheap?

Love on ya, chimes

Disclaimer: I do not get compensated for any of the products or links in this article. Everything mentioned is something that I wholly believe in promoting. 

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3 Comment

  1. Tamara says: Reply

    Love this! We have a Nest thermostat and it’s awesome. We keep it at 56 at night and 60-62 when we’re home/during the day. Sometimes we bump it a bit, but I also do use some space heaters in the bedroom and workout/study room to use as needed. And I hear you, all about layered clothes, as well as blankets on the couch!

    1. Calee says: Reply

      Yes! I really want one of those thermostats but I think I want to spend that money on fixing some of the things that cause us to lose energy (lack of insulation, old windows) first. For now we have the cheapest programmable thermometer: me. 😉

      1. Tamara says: Reply

        Understandable! My husband got a really good deal on an outgoing model, then we were able to receive two $50 rebates (one each from gas and electric utilities). So it ended up being essentially free! You may want to check our sales and rebate options in your area. It’s so nice to be able to turn up the temp from the app on our way home or before we get out of bed. Plus we get reports from them each month. Not necessary, of course, but if you can get a comparable bargain, may be worth it!

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