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8 Ways to Stay Warm This Winter

Outdoors or inside, keep the chill (and a high utility bill) away with these helpful items

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    Glittens

    “Glittens” are fingerless gloves with a fold-over flap that converts them into mittens. Sportswear manufactures have transformed glittens from more of a fashion statement into top-end thermal handwear (aka “convertible mittens”) for hunters and other serious winter sports enthusiasts.

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    Warming Window Treatments

    From insulated curtains and blinds, to detachable window quilts, storm windows and seasonally applied plastic film, relatively simple and affordable solutions like these can dramatically reduce the estimated 25 percent of an older home’s heating costs associated with window heat loss.

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    The Right Layers of Clothing

    In most cold-weather situations, three layers work best. The inner layer against the skin should “wick” up body moisture (microfiber-based fabrics are a good inexpensive choice, and even lengths of worn-out pantyhose can be used as a base layer on arms and legs). The middle layer provides most of the insulation (wool, down or a synthetic fiberfill are popular for this purpose). The outer shell layer should protect from wind and water (a waterproof or water-resistant fabric, particularly one that is breathable like Gore-Tex, is recommended).

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    Spicy Foods

    Some spices, including cayenne and other hot peppers and ginger, temporarily increase body temperature for a quick warm-up. My grandfather drank a shot glass full of Tabasco sauce before he went to bed on a cold night.

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    Firewood

    If you heat with a woodstove or a fireplace designed/equipped for maximum heat generation (as opposed to a fireplace that just looks pretty, and might be wasting more heat than it produces), knowing what type of wood to burn can save you a lot. Dense hardwoods like oak and maple usually cost more, but a single log can generate twice as many BTUs as a comparable-sized log of less expensive, softer woods like pine or spruce. The difference in heat-generating capacity usually more than offsets the difference in cost, particularly since the delivery charge (if any) for a load of firewood is usually the same regardless of the type of wood.

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    Space Heaters That Fit Your Space

    According to Consumer Reports, different types of space heaters work best in different situations. “Convection” models with a built-in fan are most effective for heating an entire room, but consider a “radiant” model if you’re more interested in heating just a specific spot in room, like an area where people sit. Whatever the type, get one with a built-in thermostat and safety features including a tip-over switch, touch sensor and overheat protection. Never leave an electric heater unattended when plugged in and keep children and pets away.

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    Heated Mattress Pad

    Most people are familiar with electric blankets but electric mattress pads usually cost about the same to purchase but offer some distinct advantages over electric blankets. First, they keep you warmer with less heat/energy, since the heat is captured around your body by the mattress underneath as opposed to electric blankets, which radiate half their heat skyward toward the bedroom ceiling. Plus, these mattress pads tend to be more durable since they fit snugly over the mattress with minimal wear and tear. Heated mattress pads are also safer from overheating, since they’re less likely to become balled up than an electric blanket, which in some cases can cause a fire or scorching.

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    Waterproof Boots

    When looking for a warm pair of winter boots, many shoppers focus just on the amount of insulation. But when the insulating material gets wet, it’s like wearing two ice cubes on your feet. Look for boots without exposed lace eyelets or unprotected seams, and ones that are tall enough to avoid a flood coming in over the top. Check for material claiming to be “waterproof” (not just “water resistant”), and then check the label in the boot for its “International Protection” (or “IPX”) rating. The lowest IPX rating for boots is zero, meaning the boot offers no water protection, and highest is IPX-8, which means you can submerge the boot in water and your foot will remain dry. Whatever you do, buy boots that are large enough to accommodate a thick pair of wool socks inside, regardless of how much insulation is built into the boot.

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