Wait, Don’t Turn on the Furnace Yet!

We turned our heat on Saturday, November 13th, for the first time this fall. We had three nights when the temperatures dropped down to the twenties but, using the tips and tricks below, we stayed comfortable without turning on the furnace.  We have made it until Thanksgiving before, but I am pleased if we can get through the handful of cold nights that precede Indian summer here in Iowa.


1.     Make your bed. As soon as you get up, make the bed to trap body heat.

2.     Get dressed! After you make your bed, get dressed and put on shoes and socks. Wear closed toe shoe, not sandals.

3.     Dress in Layers. (See “Dress for the Weather” posted 12-31-2009.) Tuck the first layer in to keep the cold air from going up your back. Wear a belt to help keep it tucked in.

4.     Wear a scarf. They are the latest fashion and, depending on the size and style, they will keep your neck and shoulders warm.

5.     Wear your hair down. If you have medium to long hair, wear it down to keep your neck warm. It will keep drafts from going down the collar of your shirt. You can pull it back from your face with combs, clips or barrettes, but leave the back down.

6.     Run dishwasher. Fill the dishwasher before going to bed; add soap and run it in the morning. When it reaches the “dry cycle”, open the door and let the heat and steam warm up your kitchen.

7.     Turn on the computer and TV. Both of them generate heat.

8.     Let the sun shine in. When the sky begins to lighten, open the curtains to the east and south. An added benefit is seeing the sun rise. I have sheers under my drapes. On sunny days I open them; on cloudy days I leave them closed to trap the cool air by the glass.

9.     Bake muffins. Make breakfast in the oven. When it is cooked, shut the oven off, but leave the door open to let the heat in the room. Do not turn on the oven and leave it on to heat the room.

All Day

1. Keep cabinet doors shut. Especially the cabinets on outside walls.

2. Run the ceiling fan on low. Ceiling fans are manufactured differently. You cannot trust the “clockwise/counterclockwise rule”. In the summer you should feel the air blowing on you when you stand under it. In the winter it should turn the opposite way. Warm air rises; you want the ceiling fan to gently move the warm air back down into the room.

3. Drink hot stuff, not cold stuff. Replace your pop and ice tea with coffee, tea, hot chocolate or cappuccino.

4. Eat small meals and a couple of snacks. Your body needs food for fuel to keep warm. It is better to eat small amounts several times than to eat large meals. A bonus is your blood sugar will stay stable and you won’t have times when you crash and burn.

5. Keep moving. Exercise, play the piano or Wii or just get up and walk around. Don’t plant yourself in a chair and stay there.


1.     Wash and dry a load of laundry. You can put the dryer on “Wrinkle Release” in the morning and it will heat up the laundry room.

2.     Bake dinner. On cool evenings make your dinner in the oven.

3.     Watch the sunset. As soon as it is dark enough that you need to turn a light on to see, shut all the curtains. Don’t wait until it is completely dark outside. You want to trap the cool air next to the glass.

4.     Iron. The iron generates heat and steam which warm you up.

5.     Quilt or mend. Sewing can keep your lap warm.

6.     Lock up tight. Lock the doors and windows to have them shut as tightly as possible.

7.     Throw a rug. When the last person comes home, have them push the throw rug against the door to block cool air from coming in under the door.

8.     Cover up. Use a quilt, blanket or throw to keep you warm.

9.     Snuggle. Get close to the one you love and you will keep each other warm.

10.     Burn candles. Candles put off more heat than you realize, especially the three wick and four wick candles.

11.     Make love. The ultimate way to “turn up the heat”.

12. Wear a robe and slippers. If you spend the evening in your pajamas, wear a robe and closed toe slippers. This is not the time for sandal type slippers.

13. Stick a sock in it. Wear socks with your slippers and to bed.

14. Heat the bed. Use an electric blanket or heated waterbed.

15. Dress for bed. Dress for bed based on that night’s expected low.

  • 40’s long sleeved silk or cotton pajamas with pants.
  • 30‘s long sleeved flannel or wool pajamas with pants and socks.
  • 20’s long sleeved flannel or wool pajamas with long johns underneath and socks.
  • 10’s Same as above, but put a tee-shirt on first.

Last Big Tip

Clean your oven! The self-cleaning ovens will heat up to 800 degrees for three hours. That will bring the temperature of the house up pretty quickly.

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