Author Topic: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.  (Read 2172 times)

chasingthegoodlife

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Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« on: May 04, 2019, 05:58:44 PM »
I love where I live, but the winters are colder than I would like.

Many Americans and Europeans will probably laugh at this - we don't get even get snow! But shivering in my own living room and scraping the ice off my windscreen each morning wears me down and I'm desperate for spring after a few weeks. 

I think some of the problem is that in a generally warm country like this (Australia) we're not well set up for cold weather and even the houses in colder areas like my town aren't really suitable. Our house wasn't insulated, there were gaps everywhere and our only heating was an inefficient wood heater that couldn't bring the living room up to a pleasant temperature, let alone the rest of the house.

We're slowly fixing as much as we can, but I thought I might have something to learn from those of you living somewhere REALLY cold.

What did you do to your house to keep it warm and cosy over winter?

What sort of clothes do you wear inside during this time?

How do you arrange your life over winter for maximum happiness?

Montecarlo

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2019, 07:24:04 PM »
I love where I live, but the winters are colder than I would like.

Many Americans and Europeans will probably laugh at this - we don't get even get snow! But shivering in my own living room and scraping the ice off my windscreen each morning wears me down and I'm desperate for spring after a few weeks. 

I think some of the problem is that in a generally warm country like this (Australia) we're not well set up for cold weather and even the houses in colder areas like my town aren't really suitable. Our house wasn't insulated, there were gaps everywhere and our only heating was an inefficient wood heater that couldn't bring the living room up to a pleasant temperature, let alone the rest of the house.

We're slowly fixing as much as we can, but I thought I might have something to learn from those of you living somewhere REALLY cold.

What did you do to your house to keep it warm and cosy over winter?

What sort of clothes do you wear inside during this time?

How do you arrange your life over winter for maximum happiness?

You should post over at hearth.com if youíre having trouble heating with wood.  I suspect thereís a very fixable problem with your stove or wood if you canít even heat the room the stove is in.

nora

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2019, 01:07:49 AM »
When we were broke we used blankets, jackets, hats, gloves and got into bed early with an electric blanket and had a nightstore heater on in the living room. We had cheap little fan or radiant heaters in bedrooms for when we were super cold.

When we were less broke we bought a secondhand oil heater with a thermostat for every room of the house and turned them all on when we were at home.

Now we are not broke we have a wood burner in the main living room which feels cosy at 24 degrees when we are home, and undercarpet heating in the rest of the house set at 20 degrees all day whether we are there or not.

Alternatepriorities

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2019, 02:35:46 AM »
I live in Alaska and grew up in one of the coldest towns in North America. When I saw the thread topic my first thought was "wood stove". It sounds like you're not having the same experience with wood heat though. It could be the stove, do you have more information or a photo? What makes it inefficient? The other thing that can really kill stove performance is the quality of the firewood. I've only spent about seven weeks in Australia so I don't know what your options are there, but I do know burning green wood can cut the effective heating in half. Some species of wood like Birch will only dry out properly if it's split and others like spruce and pine will dry fine as rounds.

One of the reasons I love heating with wood is that I find having a really warm cozy house helps when it's cold and dark outside for months on end. It would bother both my frugality and my environmental conscience too much to keep the house this warm with fossil fuels. I enjoy I cutting and splitting firewood though so I'm writing this next to a small fire keeping the spring night chill at bay. I'm wearing shorts because it's warm and cozy. :) I wear wool shirts and socks a lot more often when living in a house without a wood stove.

It sounds like the insulation of the house is the other critical factor. If you own the house there are several significant things you could do. If you're renting you should probably stick to minor things like making sure the windows and doors seal well. I'd need a bit more information to make any real suggestions.

A covered parking spot (even with open walls) should prevent any frost from forming on your car window but that might be over kill. There are also blankets that you can put over the windshield.

As for maximizing happiness I find it's critical to get outside and stay active even when it's really cold out. That also makes the house feel warmer and cozier when I come back inside. If I talk myself out of going outside for long enough it starts to get a bit depressing. They used to call it "cabin fever" when I was a kid.

Alternatepriorities

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2019, 02:39:54 AM »
FIRE!

Malkynn

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2019, 04:48:10 AM »
Merino wool clothes
Warm blankets
Proper outerwear
A car starter/
Car starter and/or windshield protector

I live in a city that regularly gets colder than Mars, the right gear makes it a non issue.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2019, 05:12:42 AM »
For years, we used an normal electric fan beside the wood stove, to circulate the air to the other side of the room. Now we have an electric fan from ecofan that produces it's own electricity. It stand on top of the wood stove.

Different trees have different warmth capacity in the wood stove. Broad leaved trees generally burn better than needle trees. You might find more info on internet. You could also have a chimney problem, or the horizontal pipe from oven to chimney might be blocked with black stuff. Check if all the airways are free.

For your car window, get a thin foam cover for your windscreen. Those are really cheap and keep your window mostly free of frost.

Make sure you get enough vitamin D in the winter. Too little of it can make you depressed, and sick.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 05:14:25 AM by Linea_Norway »

ElleFiji

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2019, 05:21:14 AM »
Layers! At home that might mean longjohns plus a cozy pair of yoga pant or sweats, wool socks, a long sleeved top, a sweater, a toque, and then my enormous fleece dressing gown if it's really cold. Try buying a few winter pieces from colder countries - I've noticed retailers from parts of the States and England will carry winter-looking gear that isn't really winter weight.

If you run cold, an electric heating pad can warm you up. Lots of tea.

nereo

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2019, 05:28:11 AM »
Sealing the gaps in your house makes an enormous difference, too.  Best approach would be to do a complete energy retrofit with a tight envelop, but that can be very expensive (tens of thousands US). Next best is to find every gap and seal them, starting with the obvious (cauk around every window, carefully examine every extrusion in your house from wires and vents and seal accordingly.  In the US there are tons of companies that will do an energy evaluation (often free - paid for by the utility company, but otherwise ~$100)... they take off your front door and install and enourmous fan, then use infrared cameras to detect where you are losing the most heat.

Windows can be better sealed for the winter by adding a layer of shrink film, or (even better) adding window inserts which basically double their insulating capacity.

Heavy curtains over the windows minimize heat loss after the sun goes down.

As others have said, appropriate clothing indoors, of course (long sleeve shirts, slippers on your feet, merino wool).  Donít expect to wear short sleeves in winter in a cold-weather climate.

lizzzi

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2019, 05:34:19 AM »
Flannel sheets and pillowcases, down comforter with flannel duvet cover on it.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2019, 05:51:39 AM »
I grew up in a relatively cold climate - at least we got snow every winter.  Now I live in a place a little like Australia - not really set up for cold weather.  Not very cold compared to where I grew up but the mentality is that this is a hot climate so they just don't get cold weather and how to deal with it.  I feel much colder here than I ever did back in the Northeast of the US. 

I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about heating and insulation.  These are the two big ones here.  We have central heating here - just like everyone does.  But it's inefficient and only on for a few hours a day during set times during the coldest part of the winter.  If it's freezing cold before they turn the heating on on November 15 then you're out of luck.  Same thing in the morning - since the heaing only comes on from 5-10 pm every day.  When my children were tiny and I was up at 4 am with them I froze my ass off.  I remember that one year after my younger daughter was born it was snowing outside (rare here) and the heating didn't come on until late afternoon.  Unbearable so I went out and bought a plug in electric heater for her room.

Anyway - if you don't want to splash out for proper insulation, I'd recommend heavy 'insulating' curtains on all windows - closed whenever possible and the other North American tricks recommended above.  And I'd get some kind of proper central heating installed if at all possible.  It's not very mustachian but you're going to have to pay a bit to keep yourself really warm.  I'm sure that you already wear warm clothes around the house.  I usually wear ugg boots at home during winter since we have freezing cold tile floors, with a fleece over several layers.  My innermost layer is often an old pair of silk long johns.  Very old and ratty but who cares as no one sees it.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 05:56:29 AM by Hula Hoop »

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2019, 06:14:22 AM »
Electric blanket.   If you own look into the Japanese style heating and cooling units that sit high up in a wall and are meant to heat one room.  (US search:  https://www.totalhomesupply.com/panasonic-cs-ke30nku-30600-btu-wall-mounted-indoor-unit-heat-and-cool/p/panasonic-cske30nku?gclid=CjwKCAjwk7rmBRAaEiwAhDGhxNDflZk23NCvDMcwMIl4FQdGNXpgIteasGU1-KsESTwu4WN5AgqQRRoCnYsQAvD_BwE)

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2019, 06:20:43 AM »
A bedroom doesn't need to be warm all night as long as the bed itself is warm, so think about hot water bottles or an electric blanket.  If you sort out what clothes you want to wear in the morning the night before, you may be able to find room for a pile of the underthings in the bed with you, so they are warm to put on in the morning.

Definitely wear a vest under your normal shirt.  That and a warm pair of socks will go a long way to keeping the chill away - long johns too if the weather is cold rather than just chilly.  And keep moving - if you are sitting around reading or working on a computer you will get a lot colder and need more heating than if you are doing housework or cooking, for instance.

Sealing gaps which create drafts is excellent, as is extra insulation - start with the attic/roof.  For windows, curtains with an insulating layer can be just as good in the evenings as double glazing or shutters.

A wood stove is good, but not all wood stoves are created equal - the modern clean burn ones can be pretty expensive but are much more efficient and produce heat very quickly after being lit.  Proper installation and a swept chimney matter too.

Steeze

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2019, 07:03:06 AM »
Inside - thick socks, hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, and a hat if needed. We also drink hot water instead of cold water, and keep nice thick blankets in the bedroom and living room. The hot water thing is a game changer, first thing I do when I get home is put on the kettle.

Outside - I bought DW and I a couple sets of base layers, mid layers, outer layers, and insulated/waterproof winter boots. We also have a collection of hats, gloves, and scarves. I think the cold outside is more acceptable when you have clothes you are excited about wearing!

mistymoney

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2019, 07:25:25 AM »
oil filled electric space heaters.

Cranky

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2019, 08:11:57 AM »
I grew up in hot and sunny Florida, and now somewhat bitterly live in cold and gloomy NE Ohio. I can't really help you out with the "happy" part, but as far as staying warm goes -

1. Dress for the weather. Indoors I wear and undershirt and a long sleeved shirt and a sweater or fleece kind of thing, and cotton socks and wool socks and slippers in the winter. Flannel pjs at night. I wear a wool hat in the house lots of times.

2. Plenty of warm throws around the house. Some of these make actually be electric. Hot water bottles are lovely.

3. Heavy curtains to cut down on drafts.

4. Warm bedding - flannel sheets and a down comforter.

5. Exercise is very warming.

Kris

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2019, 08:18:58 AM »
Insulation for sure. I live in Minnesota, and in the winter Iím always toasty warm inside, because our houses are built for that. Iíve never been chilled to the bone inside my house like I have been when Iíve lived/stayed winters in other ďwarmerĒ places like France (especially southern France) and Ecuador, where they donít heat or insulate well (or in the case of Ecuador, at all).

caleb

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2019, 08:48:21 AM »
You should post over at hearth.com if youíre having trouble heating with wood.  I suspect thereís a very fixable problem with your stove or wood if you canít even heat the room the stove is in.

I want to emphasize this ^ point.  Every wood stove I've ever used could totally cook you out of a room.  Most can heat a whole house well below the freezing point.

Once you get the stove functioning properly, you'll likely want to get the heat circulated around the house.  Two common ways are to use fans like people are describing above, or run a forced air system on the fan-only setting.

Getting your stove sorted out will almost certainly be worth it.  Coming home to a crackling fire can transform a cold evening.

deborah

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2019, 08:58:32 AM »
The library will have some sort of energy kit - different municipalities have different types, but I know, from a previous thread, that they are available for loan. They may include a UV detector for looking at the temperature of your walls and ceilings, that shows where thereís insulation and where thereís none.

An incense stick will show you where the drafts are, and you can caulk everywhere that the smoke shows thereís a draft.

Windows need to be sealed off. A curtain is ok, but because the window is cold, unless the cavity is sealed at the top, bottom and sides, it will create a draft that circulates cold air. The classic way to stop this is to have thick curtains (the air wonít come in through the curtain), to the floor (stops circulation at the bottom) with pelmets (stops air circulation at the top) that are close enough to the wall at the sides that the air wonít circulate around the sides either. Obviously, caulking the window stops gaps letting air in as well.

The problem we have in Australia is that houses really arenít sealed. When I replastered my house, I put insulation in the internal walls. The first room we completed in the middle of winter. We sat down, and put the small fan heater on. After a short time, it turned off, and we thought it had conked out, but it was supposed to stop when the room had reached a temperature. Because we had sealed the room, we suddenly had a room where the heat stayed in, and it would warm up.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 09:03:56 AM by deborah »

Malkynn

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2019, 09:40:31 AM »
Oy.

It's 16C/60F and sunny here today and I just had to come inside because I was overheating. Lol.

Funny how relative temperature is. A friend was in from the southern US yesterday and complaining about the bitter cold. Meanwhile in Montreal, everyone was outside on packed patios in t-shirts soaking up the sun/heat.

SunnyDays

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2019, 10:46:33 AM »
One thing  no one has mentioned for your car is an in-car warmer.  If you can, find one with a built-in timer or at least plug it into a time on the outside wall.  This will keep your windows defrosted and likely warm up the car quite a bit also.  Up here in Canada, my windows stay frost free even at -40 C, although there's no heat per se, but it does make the seats a little less ice-blockish.

It's best to try to physically adapt to the "cold" too, as exposure will create something called brown fat, which is more insulating than regular old fat.

Lastly, is there dramatically less sunshine in winter than summer?  If so, your mood will be affected by this but can be improved through the use of full-spectrum lights.  You can buy ones specifically for this purpose, or just change out your house's light bulbs.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2019, 11:23:34 AM »
I LOVE really really cold temps. That said, if I were feeling cold and shivering, I probably would NOT have such an affinity for cold, as well as arctic-style chill. Feeling warm, no matter how cold it is, in my case, comes from dressing appropriately, no matter the context. So I do splurge on high quality cold weather clothing. "Technical" outerwear and innerwear can also be used to knock around casually in, no need to only use them for ice climbing waterfalls in the winter.

I guess, what I'm trying to say is, rather than expend the energy effort and money to modify my environment. I capitulate, and just protect my body. Of course, the wife and kids dont always appreciate this approach. I was skiing last month with my daughter and pointed out on the lift that the temp was -28įF and how toasty and comfortable I was feeling, while she was feeling quite the opposite. To evidence my toasty warmth, I pulled off my gloves in a gust of ferocious winds which I was able to endure due to my stored heat.

Did I also say a big part of it is mindset? Do you love cold weather?

Fuzz

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2019, 12:02:34 PM »
Is it sunny? For me, sunlight matters more than temperature. Gray, overcast, damp is worse than bone cold and clear.

habaneroNorway

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2019, 12:41:11 PM »
Radiators as general heating. Wooden stove for the coldest days (I get free firewood) and for the charm. I wear pretty much the same clothes  indoors all year-round except for warm summer days (A/C isn't really a thing over here). If you need to dress to keep warm nothing beats wool.

We keep the indoor temperature around 20C (68F). As several have mentioned, there is something seriously wrong with your stove. A well-functioning stove can easily make a room boiling hot even if its cold as f..k outside. An open fireplace, however, does not give off much heat and the heat loss trough the chimney is substantial.

Currently I drive an electric car with a seriously efficient heating system due to the large battery so can easily pre-heat the car, but before that I Webasto in my car. That system burns fuel to generate heat and can warm a car in 15-20 minutes no matter how cold it is outside. Much more powerful than an electric heater. You can get those with a remote control with very good range or with a SIM-card so you can start it from your phone. Can be installed in pretty much any car as far as I know.

Get a proper duvet for cold climate. They are very comfy. We don't even have heating in our bedroom and I have never felt the need for it.

Alternatepriorities

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2019, 01:44:37 PM »
Oy.

It's 16C/60F and sunny here today and I just had to come inside because I was overheating. Lol.

Funny how relative temperature is. A friend was in from the southern US yesterday and complaining about the bitter cold. Meanwhile in Montreal, everyone was outside on packed patios in t-shirts soaking up the sun/heat.

Yeah, I was cutting wood in short sleeves at 10C yesterday. Even staying in the same location Iíve noticed that warm spring temperatures are cold in the fall.

Cranky

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2019, 04:40:49 PM »
If you are not used to cold weather, 68į is really chilly.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2019, 05:37:45 PM »
If you are not used to cold weather, 68į is really chilly.

And if you are coming out of a Northern winter, 68 (20C) is hot! Especially if you are doing something active.

MoolahLula

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2019, 06:14:23 PM »
How cold are we talking? 

For comfort:  My feet get cold easily, so I like a pair of warm, sherpa fleece lined bootie slippers for lounging at home.  Friends in OH recommended these Cuddl Duds flannel sheets this past winter and I got some cheap in an ugly pattern on EBay.  They seem to wash well and donít pill.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LGMHKE4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_PP3ZCbB79BYCA

As for the house, hang thick curtains, block off rooms you donít use so that your heating device doesnít have to work so hard, and bake comfort foods in the oven to heat the house. 

FIREstache

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2019, 06:21:35 PM »
A bedroom doesn't need to be warm all night as long as the bed itself is warm,

That doesn't work for me.  I get sore throats and a worse cough when breathing in cool air all night, so I make sure I keep the bedroom at least 70 degrees.  In the summer, I'm good up to 80.

I don't know if anyone mentioned it, but I've become partial to fleece jeans when I'm around home in the winter.  I also toss on a throw blanket sometimes if I'm just watching TV or something.  If I'm still uncomfortable, I have no qualms about turning up the heat a couple degrees to get it up to 70 to 72 degrees.  In the summer, I'm good up to about 82, depending on how active I am.

Outside on very cold days, I wrap a fluffy low density scarf around my face for the long walk in the parking lot in addition to a nice down parka and gloves.

The sun is nice, but the temperature is what matters to me, and wind makes it worse.

okcisok

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #29 on: May 05, 2019, 08:40:54 PM »
+1 on the proper clothing & fixing the wood stove

My parents' woodstove is so ridiculously efficient that it was 83 degrees on Christmas Day! In the northern hemisphere! In the house! I nearly suffocated. They also have one of stove top fans like Linda mentioned. It helps move the air around the whole house, not just the room the stove is in. My parents have *forgotten* how to turn on the central heat, the woodstove is so good for what they need.

Last winter was the first winter in my life that I decided to embrace the philosophy of "there's no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing". I read here and other forums about the proper clothing, and visited outdoor gear stores to talk to the salesclerks. I'm not very outdoorsy, but I walk to work and wanted to be comfortable. Lot of layers in quality fabrics helped a ton! Breathable wool and 'performance fabrics'. Ebay and ThredUp, even the thrift store can have great deals if you know what brands and types you need. My DP has had great luck with estate sales and antique stores for heavy, durable winter clothing in classic styles. I bought a pair of ski pants to layer over my business clothes on Amazon for $25. I love the other poster's great idea about getting an 'ugly pattern' cheap online--that would probably work for lots of things!

To echo other posters, layers even in the house, and good houseshoes are imperative. My floor is the garage ceiling, so it's icy cold in the winter. I finally got a pair of wool house shoes and it helped so much. I also have fleece and sweater-type throws, even a Snuggie, around the sitting areas. Hot tea from the electric kettle that I steep in a Yeti tumbler to keep very hot. My roommate says he's never lived with someone who can stand it as cold as I can (around 64 degrees inside).

I also choose to do activities that will keep me warm. Sweeping the floor with a broom instead of the electric duster, saving laundry for when I'm home and can benefit from the heat from the dryer, cooking bubbling pots and filling the oven with baking goods.

Space heaters for the win! I have one in my cold cold tiled bathroom. You can also direct one at you in a larger room if you need to be sedentary.

Heated mattress pad. I turn mine on while I'm getting ready for bed, then turn it off when I lay down. I find a heating pad can be great to warm up the foot of the bed or tuck under your back for the same effect.

Do things that are unique to the cold climate. If it snows, go sledding or build a snowman. Drink hot chocolate or tea at the ice-skating park. Go to the local Winter Fest or similar celebrations. Do things that make you appreciate the cold time of year instead of dread it.

Have people over. Something about a group of people really warm up a space, even if you're just playing board games or talking.  Maybe set your own winter tradition of weekly indoor activities!

Research 'hygge' and other cold-climate philosophies. I realized there are millions of people who seem to like, even LOVE cold weather, and I wanted to know why. I still don't LOVE it, but there are reasons to enjoy it, and that might help you get over the misery.

Definitely spend time outside, properly dressed, to 'harden off'. It does make the house feel warmer when you come back inside! My friend who used to live in Alaska makes a point every season to acclimate himself by spending lots of time outside, no matter the weather. He rarely complains about the outdoor temperature.

One

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2019, 10:31:49 PM »
High efficiency wood stove, wool hat and socks, down jacket

elliha

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2019, 02:15:36 AM »
I live in cold climate and to keep warm I suggest learning which of your body parts are more sensitive to cold than others, most people can be tolerate cold more for some parts than others. For me it is feet, butt and tummy. If any of these are cold I feel very cold so I try to always keep them warm indoors and outdoors. Get some kind of electrical heater to use when you know you are going to sit down for a longer period and blankets etc are not a great option.

I agree that trying to get the wood burner to work better and to see if you can eliminate drafts are possible solutions to your problem. I would definitely spend both time and money on this part as I think this can have a dramatic positive effect on your indoor climate. Insulation is a more costly but probably also good solution and it will probably help a little with heat in the warmer periods too.

happy

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2019, 04:47:12 AM »
Australian houses are not designed to retain heat. We do not take it seriously.
1. insulate...ceiling/underfloor/walls/double glaze windows/ heavy curtains/pelmets. Every bit you can helps and try to go beyond those wimpy R2-3 ratings that are so common in Oz, like R4,6 and beyond. I put in under floor insulation and could seriously feel the difference underfoot sitting in a chair between that which was insulated and that which wasn't.
2. draught exclusion, as per Deborah. The cheapest thing I ever did was to install draught excluders on external doors, cost only a few dollars but made a heap of difference.
3. if you can't get heat from your wood burner it may be that your wood is not dry enough. Where I live its high humidity, which means not matter how long I dry and season wood, it never heats like the wood in dry alpine areas.

Otherwise, what they said.

habaneroNorway

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2019, 05:06:05 AM »
How to check if firewood is dry:

https://www.tips.adurofire.com/knowledge-and-useful-advice/firewood/checking-dry-firewood/

Personally I've never used the soap test. But sound works ok and moisture meter is the most accurate (can get cheap ones that are accurate enough).

habaneroNorway

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2019, 05:18:33 AM »
This is a must-read for anyone who makes firewood, stacks it and then burns it to keep warm in the cold months:

https://www.amazon.com/Norwegian-Wood-Chopping-Stacking-Scandinavian/dp/1419717987/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=norwegian+wood+cutting&qid=1557141266&s=gateway&sr=8-1

The latest Scandinavian publishing phenomenon is not a Stieg LarssonĖlike thriller; itís a book about chopping, stacking, and burning wood that has sold more than 200,000 copies in Norway and Sweden and has been a fixture on the bestseller lists there for more than a year. Norwegian Wood provides useful advice on the rustic hows and whys of taking care of your heating needs, but itís also a thoughtful attempt to understand manís age-old predilection for stacking wood and passion for open fires. An intriguing window into the exoticism of Scandinavian culture, the book also features enough inherently interesting facts and anecdotes and inspired prose to make it universally appealing. The U.S. edition is a fully updated version of the Norwegian original, and includes an appendix of U.S.-based resources and contacts.

chasingthegoodlife

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2019, 05:44:48 AM »
Thank you so much for all the thoughtful answers - I will respond in more detail when Iím at a computer tomorrow.

Lady SA

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2019, 10:36:28 AM »
Basically, you need to do 3 things: generate building heat, keep the heat trapped in the building, and keep your body heat trapped around you. Make some changes to help these 3 areas and you will be a lot more comfortable.

For generating heat:
Most pps have already given some great advice re: your wood stove. Sounds like it is underperforming substantially so worth some investigation there. However, heat may just be escaping as fast as you are putting it out. So imo I'd start with some extra steps to try keeping the heat you are generating in the building and if that still isn't enough, look at more drastic ways to generate heat. But I also have two small tricks to minorly boost the heat in the house
Whenever we bake, after the food is done we leave the oven door open as the appliance cools to release the warmed air into the house.
Hot showers, leave the doors open to release the hot moist air into the rest of the house.

For keeping the house warmer:
When the temps dip, we put clear shrink plastic insulating film over our leakiest windows. Makes a HUGE difference.
Put blankets over the windows and unused doors. This extra layering really helps hold the heat inside the building. We have one problem window that gets both the film and then an extra blanket over top (because there are some leaks around the window frame as well), and it no longer is 10 degrees colder in that area of the house. Blankets do make the house darker, but during the winter it's dark anyway.
Seal all gaps in the house. Look around windows and doors as the biggest culprits. Gaps are the biggest warm air escape routes so look at this with priority. (The insulating film helps with window gaps).
Rugs and fluffier floor coverings can help insulate from the ground, or at least make your feet feel less cold.

To keep your body warmer:
layers! I live in at least 2-3 layers constantly when it dips below 50F. Usually I will wear wool leggings and thick, tall socks under pants, and then long sleeve long johns, long-sleeve shirt, and then sweatshirt over top if needed. Merino wool is the best. I never leave my feet uncovered too, if your feet are cold the rest of you is cold.
Keep blankets in the living room. I create a big nest of pillows and fluffy, warm blankets when it is chilly. Be ok with covering yourself in a blanket if you are lounging or sitting at the dinner table to eat.
Cuddle with a partner or pet to share warmth :)
Old socks filled with dry rice and popped into the microwave for 3 mins, then put the heat sock on your lap or on your belly. Trap the warm with a blanket over top.

Fishindude

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #37 on: May 06, 2019, 10:43:07 AM »
I live in Alaska and grew up in one of the coldest towns in North America. When I saw the thread topic my first thought was "wood stove". It sounds like you're not having the same experience with wood heat though. It could be the stove, do you have more information or a photo? What makes it inefficient? The other thing that can really kill stove performance is the quality of the firewood. I've only spent about seven weeks in Australia so I don't know what your options are there, but I do know burning green wood can cut the effective heating in half. Some species of wood like Birch will only dry out properly if it's split and others like spruce and pine will dry fine as rounds.

One of the reasons I love heating with wood is that I find having a really warm cozy house helps when it's cold and dark outside for months on end. It would bother both my frugality and my environmental conscience too much to keep the house this warm with fossil fuels. I enjoy I cutting and splitting firewood though so I'm writing this next to a small fire keeping the spring night chill at bay. I'm wearing shorts because it's warm and cozy. :) I wear wool shirts and socks a lot more often when living in a house without a wood stove.

It sounds like the insulation of the house is the other critical factor. If you own the house there are several significant things you could do. If you're renting you should probably stick to minor things like making sure the windows and doors seal well. I'd need a bit more information to make any real suggestions.

A covered parking spot (even with open walls) should prevent any frost from forming on your car window but that might be over kill. There are also blankets that you can put over the windshield.

As for maximizing happiness I find it's critical to get outside and stay active even when it's really cold out. That also makes the house feel warmer and cozier when I come back inside. If I talk myself out of going outside for long enough it starts to get a bit depressing. They used to call it "cabin fever" when I was a kid.

Really good advice here.
I try to at least spend a few hours outdoors every day year round.  I believe it really helps prevent flu, colds and other illnesses in the winter too.

The other thing is to get yourself some really good clothing made for your winter weather.   Observe what the folks that work outside all day wear and buy the same for yourself.

Nothing beats snuggling up near a hot wood stove on a chilly winter day / night.

gliderpilot567

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2019, 11:55:17 AM »
Exercise. Even very quick, light, easy exercise will increase heart rate and metabolism, warming you up. The larger muscle groups that you can engage, the better (glutes/hams). Pick up some heavy things and move them around, anything to make you breathe a little more and up the heart rate just a little. Sometimes all it takes is a dozen air squats. It's amazing how well this works.

If you're cold and tempted to get on the couch under a blanket and move as little as possible, then do a dozen air squats or run up and down the stairs first. Only after you've done that, get under the blanket. If you are cold and just get under the covers without moving, it will take a long time to warm up... some light exercise will kick start it!

Misstachian

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Re: Tell me how you stay warm and happy in a cold climate.
« Reply #39 on: May 06, 2019, 09:05:09 PM »
I am always cold and we rent a drafty old house with a bedroom that hangs in the 50s all winter unless the expensive electric heater is on. I have Raynaud's and am very sensitive to even mild cold. My extremities go numb sometimes in the low 60s if Iím not in direct sunlight or in layers. Iíve been known to shiver at 70. When I was pregnant I was warm the whole time and I kept being astonished at what it was like to be comfortable rather than freezing constantly. It was like a miracle! Like with metabolism and sleep, people are built really differently in handling temperature (and Iím sorry you also suck at it).

Heated mattress pad!! I love this. Itís one of the few things that if it broke tonight, Iíd go get another tomorrow. I turn it on before bed and itís so toasty climbing in that I can deal with colder bedroom temps. I shut it off when Iím going to sleep but I click it back on if I wake up shivering. Ours is dual-zoned for marital harmony - my 'barely comfortable' in fleece pants and two hoodies is his 'too warm' if thereís a duvet involved, so this lets me super heat my side.

I also like the microwaveable slippers for when my feet really wonít warm up.