18 ways to keep warm without turning up the heat

Baby, it's cold outside.

When the weather turns frightful, the natural instinct is to turn up the heat -- and then pay the price. But before reaching for the thermostat, try these free and cheap ways to stay warm.

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18 inexpensive ways to keep warm
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18 inexpensive ways to keep warm

A cup of tea or coffee, hot chocolate, a hot toddy, or even hot water with lemon warms from the inside out. Although it may not raise body temperature noticeably, a warm beverage is soothing and comforting.

Related: 10 Cheaper Ways to Drink Cappuccino

The winter doldrums can certainly put the kibosh on an exercise routine. But physical activity of any kind warms the body quickly. Moving about energetically helps raise body temperature and promote circulation, which means fingers and toes are less likely to take on that frigid chill.
Old-fashioned it may be, but a hot water bottle is a cheap essential for those who hate the cold. A high-quality rubber model ($11 at Amazon) promises comfort all season long. Fill with hot water to the manufacturer's specifications and let the radiant heat do its thing. Tip: Place the bottle between the sheets 20 minutes before bedtime.
An extra layer of warmth goes a long way in the bitter cold. Cuddl Dudds Warm Essentials waffle thermals ($10 apiece at Target) fit snugly under regular clothes. The leggings and henley function like a second skin that insulates using the body's natural heat without adding too much bulk.
Baking helps warm a home in so many ways. The activity of mixing and stirring increases physical activity, while heat from the oven radiates through the room. Delicious family recipes warm the heart and create new memories in the kitchen.
Circulating hot water around the body encourages extra blood flow, which produces a feeling of warmth. A very steamy shower or a bath, in particular, stimulates all over and soothes muscles tightened by the cold. Wrap up in a comfy robe afterwards.

There's nothing wrong with spending a cold day under blankets. Getting cozy in a warm bed under a duvet or a wool or thermal blanket ($25 at Amazon) fends off chilly temperatures. A day bundled up is the human version of hibernation.

Warm scarves aren't only for outdoors. A stylish scarf may be all you need to take the edge off a chill in the house. Give your body a chance to adjust naturally with an extra layer before reaching for the thermostat. Choose insulating materials like wool, silk, and thick cotton for maximum warmth.
Lighting a fireplace brings communal warmth to a room and quickly warms bodies sitting nearby. Encourage everyone to gather around once the fire is roaring. Share stories, talk quietly, or just enjoy the crackle and pop. Gathering wood ahead of the main event gets the blood flowing and makes the body feel warmer.
Anyone who has worked in a commercial kitchen knows it's one hot place even on the coldest days of the year. Soup kitchens are crowded on very cold days, and all those bodies generate extra heat. Volunteer for the cook line and then help serve. You'll stay warm and help the community at the same time.
Retail establishments want shoppers to feel comfortable, so they regulate the ambient temperature to suit the season. If your home seems uncomfortably chilly, head to a favorite store or the mall. Browse or walk the concourse until you warm up.
Windows let in wind and cold air if not properly insulated. An extra layer of thick curtains or a blanket placed over a window helps protect against outside elements. A covering as simple and inexpensive as a moving blanket ($11 from Mytee Products) works wonders.
Heat is lost through the feet and head, and feet and toes are among the first body parts to feel the chill. Icy feet can be uncomfortable and make you feel colder. Doubling up on socks is an easy way to combat this cold-weather problem.
Cold air and pesky wind sneak into homes through the space under outside doors. Keep the cold out and the heat in by stuffing a towel at the bottom or use a product specifically designed to solve this problem, like a draft blocker ($10 at Bed Bath & Beyond). or vinyl seal ($9 at Lowe's).
Most body heat escapes through the head, so covering up with a warm hat or scarf traps warmth. A simple cotton hat significantly reduces heat loss, although a wool or wool-blended cap is a better option. The choices are nearly unlimited and cost as little as $5.
Natural light brings warmth to a space. Harness Mother Nature's heat lamp by opening blinds during peak sun hours. Your home will warm as it absorbs the sun's energy. To maintain the heat as long as possible, close the blinds once the sun sets and temperatures begin to drop.
Household chores may be no fun, but there's a perk to helping with the laundry on the coldest days. As the dryer spins, the surrounding air warms up. Folding the soft, warm textiles enhances the sensation. And slipping into toasty-warm clothes is an added bonus.
Switch out regular sheets for extra-warm flannel sheets (starting at $18 at Kmart) when winter arrives. Flannel holds heat better and works with natural body heat to keep you comfortable throughout the night.
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