The year’s first snowfall is a romantic thing to witness — but boy, the novelty wears off fast. In a YouGov survey, only 7% of American participants called winter their favorite season. Given the ice storms, slick roadways and treacherous snowbanks it’s liable to bring, one can see why. And then there’s the mother of all wintertime discomforts: cold snaps. Fortunately, with these simple tips, you can keep yourself nice and cozy whenever Old Man Winter comes a-knocking.
1. Eat something fat-filled
“Foods that contain more fat, protein, and carbohydrates often heat the body up a little bit [during digestion],” said food scientist Barry Swanson. All the extra energy required to break down such meal items really fires up your body’s internal furnace.
Therein lies the appeal of muktuk, a traditional Inuit dish made with whale blubber. According to science writer Kieran Mulvaney, the act of digesting it creates a warming sensation that’s greatly appreciated in the high Arctic.
2. Invest in the right window curtains
By trapping warm air, insular curtains help reduce your heating bill. But not all window coverings are up to the task. For best results, pick up some curtains made with tightly-woven denim, tweed, velvet or some other heavyweight material. The best winter-ready models are several layers thick. Also, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a pelmet so heat doesn’t climb over the curtain rail and escape through the window.
3. Enjoy the comforts of a hot water bottle
On a frigid night, they’re like low-tech heating pads. Simply fill one of these babies up with hot (but not boiling) tap water, seal it shut, and you’re good to go! Some owners like to lay their bottles by their feet at bedtime. Others reserve them for TV binge sessions, letting the handy containers warm up the living room sofa.
Those on a budget are welcome to use plastic drinking bottles, but if you’d like something a little more dependable, you can always purchase a wide-mouthed rubber container built explicitly for this purpose. (Some models even come with cute little sweaters that help them retain heat longer.)
4. Put the cotton socks away
Wet socks and cold days are a miserable combination. And while they’re usually cheaper than the wool-based alternatives, cotton socks are notorious for both absorbing and retaining foot sweat. Not only does this keep your feet damp, but it also renders the garments useless from an insulation standpoint. Splurge a little and add some wool socks to the winter wardrobe. (Don’t worry, there are loads of non-itchy options available.) Your feet with thank you.
5. Go make some door draft stoppers
These put the “fun” in “functional.” Basically, a draft stopper is a long, skinny pillow designed to plug the crack at the bottom of your doorframe — or hug the base of a windowsill. It’s another cheap way to keep the heat indoors this winter. Do-it-yourselfers will find the internet’s chock-full of creative draft stopper designs, ranging from the adorable and dog-shaped to the tasteful and lace-lined. Now get sewing!
6. Learn to layer
When assembling your outfit, choose base-layer garments that’ll draw sweat away from your skin. Polyester-based shirts usually work well here. Next, pull on a wool sweater or feather down jacket that’s loose enough to trap a sliver of air that your body heat can warm up. Finally, throw on a hat, a pair of gloves, and an outer jacket, making sure all three components are both windproof and waterproof. If you’ve assembled everything in the proper order, you’ll have an ensemble that should keep warm air in and cold air out. Plus, you’ll stay dry.