Six ways to keep warm without turning up the thermostat

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woodburner for heating home without carbon footprintThis week, Small Footprints has asked us to turn the thermostat down for Change the World Wednesday.

Unfortunately this is something we can’t do.

Because we don’t have one!

The rooms and offices at Chez Green are kept warm by a woodburner and open fire which run seven radiators and the hot water tank.

We source local, seasoned wood from busy farmers who don’t have time to clear their land.

In exchange for putting in the time and effort we get free heating and they get their land safe from fallen trees – what’s not to love?!

It’s an interesting lifestyle choice living with a woodburner and open fire.

It’s almost like having another member of the family with their quirks, preferences and need for attention and care.

And our home is never particularly hot, but it’s ‘normal’ for us.

I can’t tell you the number of friends I have who insist of wearing t-shirts indoors during the winter.

I’m in their houses about an hour and I’ve had enough.

I feel lethargic, headachy and a bit ill if I’m honest.

In our house, yes you need to wear a jumper (or two of three) (and good friends understand this now!) but we’re healthier and I notice a difference in my alertness.

An open fire produces a different kind of heat to electric or gas.

And offers so much more comfort.

Often I’ll light the fire not because I’m cold but because I want the comfort of the flames, the relaxation of the crackling wood, to stare into nothingness and be transported.

There’s no sensation that the room is closing in on you, the you can’t breathe deeply or that stifling feeling I get with other forms of heating.

But it’s not all romantic flickering flames.

Sometimes I yearn to be able to flick a switch and have instant heat.

By this time of year I’m desperate for a spring clean but know it’s fruitless for a couple more months.

And if there isn’t a local farmer with a few fallen trees, then it can be a pretty bleak winter.

But there are simple ways to keep warm which don’t cost the earth:

Wear socks

You probably know about the huge amount of heat you lose from your head, but what about your feet? We make sure we wear socks and slippers in the house to keep cosy.

Wear a hat!

I have been known to wear my beanie indoors and in a few minutes I can’t wait to peel a layer off; it’s amazing the difference it can make to your core body temperature.

Layer up

A few thin layers and warmer than one or two thick ones. And stick to natural, breathable fabrics too. I wear a long cotton vest, long sleeved cotton top and put a couple of thin cashmere jumpers over the top.

Hot water bottles

I’m sitting here right now with a hot water bottle on my lap. I’d rather have a cat but there you go; it’s a hot water bottle or sometimes the bunny that keep me warm!

Food energetics

Did you know that some foods warm from the inside out? Cinnamon on a bowl of porrage to start the day, ginger, garlic and turmeric in warming soups and stews and warm herbal teas like thyme and sage keep you totally warmed through.

Bear in mind cooking methods too; slow cooked food offers slow release warmth. Try it out for yourself; comparing a crockpot stew to a flash-in-the-pan stir fry!


We have blankets over the backs of chairs for people to help themselves to. What could be better after a long day than sitting infront of the fire, snuggled under a blanket sipping your favourite warm drink? Not a lot, I can tell you!

How do you keep warm without increasing your carbon footprint or increasing your utility bills?


  1. Small Footprints on January 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I love this post … it’s the first time that I’ve ever heard someone comment on how stifling artificial heat is … and how living in a cooler environment is healthier. I totally believe that! There are members of my family who wear t-shirts all winter long … I can’t stand to visit them because I step in and immediately I’m overwhelmed with heat and a feeling that I’m suffocating. We have electric heat in our apartment but we don’t turn it on until it gets unbearably cold and then we keep it very low. We, like you, use the layering method … it works brilliantly. We even have gloves, with the finger tips cut out, that we wear while working on the computer. This year, it’s been so cold that my usual socks & slippers aren’t keeping my feet warm but … a second pair of socks has done the trick. Thanks for sharing all your tips. I’m envious of your wood burner! 🙂

  2. Jane on January 31, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I don’t think it is necessarily the type of heat that is unpleasant and stifling, but an excessive amount of heat blasting out. We have gas central heating, but set the thermostat quite low, and only have it on for a short period each morning and evening. Like you, I can find some other people’s houses excessively hot and stifling. I think that people who have their heating too high in winter often feel cold in the summer too because they get used to such high temperatures. In cold weather, I wear 2 layers of thermal underwear, and one or two jumpers around the house and am usually warm. If it is very cold, I wear extra socks and fleece-lined boots. In the evenings, my husband and I enoy snuggling up under a blanket on the settee, and we are usually lucky enough to have 2 cats sitting on top. What I find really cosy and snuggly though is our flannelette bedding (sheet, duvet cover and pillow cases). It doesn’t feel cold when you get into bed like other bedding does.

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