How to Survive in Winter without Breaking the Bank
It is cold in Canberra in July. In the last couple of months, however, I have learnt a few tricks on how to survive outside the tropics. What is the point in keeping all this knowledge to myself? Here are a few tips for you to try!
Wear Socks. This is the cardinal rule of staying warm; it is amazing how much difference these dear little things make. If you are feeling cold, the first question you should ask is not “is the heater switched on?” but “am I wearing socks?”. If you’ve got short hair, beanies help a bit too, and gloves certainly make life more pleasant, but socks are the difference between comfort and squalor.
Keep Doors Shut. I’m a real pedant when it comes to doors. If one of my younger sisters leaves the door to the hall open for more than 5 seconds it gets on my nerves. Doors probably don’t make as much difference as I sometimes make out, but if you’re not in the habit of shutting doors behind you, you waste money on heating.
Live Communally. I never heat my bedroom. I do this partially to save money for my parents, partially to save electricity — because I don’t think we get all of our power from renewable sources — and mostly because I can’t be bothered. It never gets above 12 degrees (celsius) in my bedroom winter, but that doesn’t affect me except when I’m in the bedroom. I rarely spend more than an hour in my room at a time (except at night) and because of that I don’t heat my room, and because I don’t heat my room, I spend even less time there. The end result is that I am spending a lot of time in the warm living area, not much time in my frigid bedroom, and I’m probably saving (my parents) money. The draw-back, of course, is that my bedroom — a very nice place — is no longer very habitable.
Sit on your Clothes in the Morning. It is hard putting on clothes in the morning, because on July mornings, room temperature is about 8 degrees (celsius) — and so are the clothes one must put on. Some people put their clothes on oil heaters to warm them up, but… problem: I don’t use heaters. Recently I discovered an effective alternative: sit on my clothes while I read my Bible. This brings them up to skin temperature before I even put them on. Often I am too dopy when I get out of bed for my Bible to want to find clothes to sit on — especially on the days when I don’t want to wear the clothes dangling at the end of the bed and I need to forage in the wardrobe. This morning I discovered an alternative to sitting on clothes: after I finished reading my Bible, I put my clothes on my bed where I had been sitting and covered them with the quilts; I went to the toilet, washed my face, and returned — and my clothes were warm!
Exercise Regularly. Admittedly, exercising for say, three quarters of an hour, won’t keep you warm all day. But it will make a difference to a portion of the day, and it is a great spirits booster to get out of the house on a winters day, I find. (of course, venturing out in a T-shirt and shorts on a blustery July afternoon is foolhardy in itself, but hey! If you’re not that tough, wear track-pants and a jumper. DON’T exercise in a gym though, it’s boring and you’ll only waste money).
Don’t Skip Showers. Well, I suppose skipping showers might save you money, but it won’t keep you warm. Sometimes in winter I don’t feel like stripping down to get in the shower, but I find that after a (hot) shower I feel substantially warmer for about an hour. The hardest part, of course, is turning off the water. I confess my average shower length has gone from about 4 to about 8 minutes during the winter.
Know the Conditions Outside. This trick won’t help much in July, but it helps in May and early June: open the window when it’s warmer out than in. In July, even my frigid bedroom tends to stay above outside temperature, but in the less bitter months it can sometimes help to open the window around 12 and shut it around 3. But don’t if it’s windy, and REMEMBER to shut it before the great dusk temperature drop. I’ve made both mistakes before.
Think Tough. This is the final and probably most effective tip. Don’t be a sissy; allow yourself to venture out of your comfort zone a bit. In Cambodia, I put on a jumper at about 24 degrees. Here I let it get down to 17 — or even further. Once at (running) training on a very windy 8 degree day I took my jumper off before even the warm up and left it in the car with Mum where I couldn’t get it till she came to pick me up. It hurt, but if you punish your body a bit, it withstands things better in general. So think tough and don’t expect winter to be easy: it’s not.
This ended up longer than I meant it to be. I hope the tips help. With them, you should be able to stay a bit warmer in winter — cheaply. Another thing that has helped me is a woollen jumper that my Mum got in Cambodia for about $10 (usually they cost about $100). That could be another tip: look out for ridiculously cheap clothes when you travel in third world countries.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, I trust you are smart enough to adjust all dates.