Staying warm when it's cold as icebergs

January 27, 2011|Alicia Notarianni | Making Ends Meet

"Great bouncing icebergs!"

Fans of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" might recognize the exclamation. Santa Claus utters it when he first spots Rudolph's "nose so bright." For some reason, it never struck me until I watched the classic this year. Then it tickled me and I've been using it–OK, maybe overusing it–every chance I get.

This week, with frigid outdoor temperatures, it seemed the perfect utterance. It was 4 degrees when I took my kids out for school one morning.

"Great bouncing icebergs, it's cold outside!" we said, shivering.

Such weather presents a challenge to keeping warm indoors without sending the heating bill skyrocketing. Some days, I put on a vest that is intended as outerwear just to do some work at my computer.

It reminds me of my best elementary school friend, Patty, and her family. Patty's dad was a physician. He purchased a huge Tudor Revival-style house on top of a hill that overlooked the small town of about 3,000 people where I grew up. The home, which had served as a convent, boasted large, well-appointed rooms, an impressive wooden staircase of multiple flights and even an elevator.

While it was a grand place to live and to visit, it apparently was not as grand a place to heat. Patty would call me quivering with cold. Her parents set the thermostat low and closed off most of the rooms of the house. She and her siblings went around indoors in hats, scarves and mittens. While practicing piano and doing homework, Patty would forgo mittens for old gloves with the fingers cut off.

While friends envied the mansion Patty called home, she dreamed of living in a warm, cozy, little abode.

Whatever style home you have, there are simple steps you can take to keep your heating bill under control while living comfortably.

Dress for the weather, even in your house. Only heat the house up to a temperature where you can be warm in a sweater. You don't need to make it warm enough for shorts.

Enlist the help of children. Teach kids to avoid multiple trips in and out by having everything they want–mittens, snowball makers and carrot noses–before they head out to play, and to close the door tightly behind them.

Get moving. People are far more likely to be cold at rest. Basic household chores like taking clothes to and from the laundry room, dusting and vacuuming are enough to get the blood flowing. If not, break a sweat–and as a bonus, burn calories–with some running in place or jumping jacks.

Use ceiling fans. Warm air rises. In the winter, be sure your fans are set to send the warm air down where you are instead of letting it gather by the ceiling.

Treat cold people with small indulgences. Most households have some people who tend to be warmer than others. For those on the cooler side, invest in some long underwear; throw a favorite blanket or pajamas in the clothes dryer for a couple minutes; offer a cup of soup or hot chocolate; or draw a warm bath.

These are just a few common sense ideas. For more tips, visit sites such as or .

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