With the price of electricity continually rising, many people are attempting to save money by keeping the thermostat turned down several degrees below comfort level during the winter months. With a little advance planning, this can be done with minimal discomfort.
There is also the ever-present threat of a prolonged power failure due to a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or the malfunction in some part of the power grid. If any of these events occur during winter, the effects on those marooned in cold homes could be serious.
Here are a few tips on how to make life in a cold house a little less unpleasant:
* Before an emergency arises, consider installing a wood stove or fireplace. Wood is cheaper than gas, oil or electricity and a supplementary heat source can be a major asset in time of crisis.
* Keep windows air-tight. If you don’t have storm windows, you can purchase temporary window caulking and plastic film to seal leaks. At least, stuff a towel or old shirt in front of any noticeable draughts. Hanging heavy curtains will also help keep out the cold air. If the sun shines on the window during the day, open the curtains so solar heat can be absorbed into the room.
* Seal the door. Check around the frame for any leaks. They can be remedied by putting weather stripping around the frame. Stuff a towel along the bottom to keep cold air out.
* Close off unused rooms, and use a smaller room as a bed-sitting room. There will be less area to keep warm. An inner room is best, Every closed door and empty room is a barrier between you and the cold outside air.
* Light candles. They give off a significant amount of heat, but be careful not to place them near anything flammable, or where they can be accidentally knocked over. Never leave a candle unattended.
* Keep moving. Dance, exercise, play games; movement produces body heat.
* Drape blankets over every chair and sofa. When you sit down, cover up.
* Dress in layers.The air trapped between each layer will act as insulation and will help retain body heat. Wool and synthetic fabrics are best. Don’t forget a hat, gloves, heavy socks and slippers.
* Have a thick robe or dressing gown ready to top your other clothes for resting or sleeping.
* If you have hot water, take a hot bath or shower. Not only will you feel warmer, but the steam will add heat and humidity to the surrounding room.
* Cook and bake if possible. Heat from the stove and oven will heat the kitchen.
* Keep hot water bottles on hand. They are cheap and effective ways of heating up a cold bed.
* Invite friends over. The more body heat in a room, the better.
* Enjoy warm drinks and eat hearty meals, along with plenty of water to aid digestion.
* Cuddle up on the couch or in bed with someone else or with a pet. The closer you cuddle, the more body heat you can build up.
* Keep those sleeping bags used for camping during the summer handy. They can provide an extra source of insulation when tucked under regular layers of bed covers.
Whether your home is cool by choice, because of an unexpected power outage, or through a natural or manmade disaster, these hints will help you survive until the crisis passes, or even until Spring, if necessary.
Keep them in mind and plan ahead, so they can be implemented as quickly and expeditiously as possible, if needed. As the old adage says, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”