How to stay warm this winter – economically
DIY tips for staying warm in winter economically:
• Block gaps and air leaks in windows and doors to cut out draughts.
• Identify and cover up mini-draughts too. Cold air can leak in through the tiniest and most unexpected places. Keep keys in keyholes, to stick up paper over vents above windows (it’s unsightly, but it’s only for a few months) and to block the holes behind light switches, plug points and TV connections – just remove the cover and plug leaks with normal insulation or masking tape.
• Stick tin foil behind any wall-mounted heaters. This prevents heat from being absorbed by the cold wall and reflects it back into the room. Just make sure the shiny side faces outward.
• Close gaps between the roof and cupboard tops. Sometimes the ceiling isn’t properly sealed into the top of built-in closets, and this is a point of potential heat escape.
• Hang thick curtains or roller blinds over windows . You can even line your curtains with an extra padded layer or cut out a large square of foam or quilt backing fabric to place behind blinds.
• Throw down carpets on bare floors. One of the most economical ways to keep yourself warm in winter is to head to a place that sells affordable carpets, buy a rug and toss it over kitchen tiles.
• Glaze your windows. You can reduce the need for switching on that heater by keeping the warmth in with double-glazed windows, but this is quite a large once-off cost and you will need a professional to install them. Though, if you want to simulate the effect, you could purchase thick plastic sheeting from a hardware store and stick it to the inside of your panes.
• Insulate your ceiling, if it hasn’t been done already. Considering that between 40% and 51% of heat is lost through the roof (according to Eskom), insulating is the number one way to retain all the warmth inside and keep your home cosy.
It is possible to line your loft yourself with products like Isotherm or Glasswool (available at hardware stores) or even just with rolls of foam or recycled cardboard. But, for safety reasons, it’s highly recommended you hire a professional to apply the thermal layer .
• If you’re going to use a heating device, make sure you choose the most energy-efficient option.
• Put heaters under shelves to create a vortex of warm air and prevent heat from rising to the ceiling. After all, you want to channel the glow towards you. Also, if you are using a wall-mounted heater, don’t place anything in front of it that could absorb the warmth. Eskom recommends you close doors to any unoccupied rooms while you have a heater on so you don’t waste warmth (and therefore energy and money) on unused areas.
• One of the quickest ways to get all toasty in winter is to soak in hot water; if this is your go-to method though, rather shower than bath (it uses electricity).
Install a solar geyser, they cost around R20 000but considering hot water heated the normal way accounts for around 50% of your electricity bill every month.
• Drink lots of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and other warm beverages to heat yourself up from the inside – just be sure to only boil the exact amount of water you need.
• It may sound all too obvious to suggest you dress warmly, but all too many people run the heater on high while wearing nothing more than a flimsy garment or two. We’re talking scarves, gloves, hats, slippers, fluffy dressing gowns, shawls and the like. You could also invest in some thermal or heat-generating underwear – or even a few silk items, which trap heat but also breathe well.
• Indulge in some cooking and baking. It’s one of the nicest ways to heat a home and you’re not wasting energy because you have to eat.
• Buy an eiderdown duvet (or the cheaper combination of feathers and down) and you will not need to waste hard-earned cash on all-night electric heating again.
• Eskom does advocate the use of electric blankets, it’s important to only use them to warm up the bed before getting in. So, switch yours on about 30 minutes to one hour before sleep time and then turn it off as you hop in.
Eat seasonal fruit, veggies and save
EATING and planning meals according to the fruit and vegetables in season allows you to save money, enjoy foods at the peak of their flavour and enhances sustainability.
Have a look at this rough guide to seasonal fruit and vegetables in South Africa. Winter in South Africa is during June, July and August.
Fruit: Apples, avocados, dates, grapefruit, lemons, limes, melon, naartjies, oranges, pawpaws or papayas, pears, pineapples, and tomatoes.
Vegetables: Asparagus, artichokes, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, spring onions, squash, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
Avoiding bad hair days
YOU know it’s winter when you’re almost afraid to step out of the shower in the morning.
No matter how warm that water was, you’re hit by an icy blast as soon as you pull back the curtain. And then, there’s the challenge of getting ready for work with the lights low on the horizon (if the sun is up at all).
While winter is never as bad in South Africa as we think it might be, it can still do some serious damage to skin and hair. The colder temperatures make it difficult for your body to get and hold onto the moisture in the air – when there is moisture in the air. You run the risk of feeling like a dried, aged piece of parchment for several months.
You can shrug it off if you want, but we don’t recommend it – especially when it comes to your hair. You can create an unhappy environment if you’re not looking after it during the winter months. Now, that won’t trigger hair loss by itself, but it won’t help if the hair growth cycle is suddenly interrupted.
Winter hair care:
• Stop washing your hair – No, we don’t mean altogether. Though, the less you wash your hair, the easier it is for the roots to hold onto the moisture they need. Of course, you will quickly find yourself feeling as though you could wring your hair out for cooking grease so you’ll need to wash it occasionally. Aim for two or three times a week.
• Add a deep conditioning treatment – Most people with longer hair (and that’s everything that reaches past the ears for this discussion) find conditioning after washing helps with maintenance, shine and appeal. But, we don’t mean that type of conditioner here.
You shouldn’t stop using your regular conditioner, but pick up a deep conditioning treatment.
• Dry your hair completely – Allow your hair to dry naturally, when it’s warm out. When the temperature drops, it’s time to pull out that hair dryer.
We know your mom never let you leave the house with wet hair because she didn’t want you to become ill – that does happen – but, there’s another reason too. Dry your hair before leaving the house or wrap it with a silk scarf if you need to leave in a hurry.
• Cut back on styling – Find a style that sits well without curling irons, straighteners and loads of products.
As much as you need to dry your hair to protect it from the cold, you shouldn’t do much more than that if you can help it. Of course, you’re going to go all out for your cousin’s wedding¸ but you shouldn’t be over-styling every day. Your hair is doing a lot of work already just trying to hang on for those gorgeous summer months.
Dealing with minor issues:
There are a few things that drive everyone mad during winter like static and hat hair.
Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks you can use to avoid these. If your hair becomes static-ridden during winter (or anytime, for that matter), pick up a box of fabric softening dryer sheets.
Rub one across your hair (but don’t grind it into the roots) and watch the static disappear.
If you need to wear a hat to keep your head warm, wrap a silk scarf around first (cotton and linens can work against your hair). When you lift your hat and scarf, you won’t find hat head.
When you step out of the shower, bravely facing that icy cold, you can run your hands through dry hair to release the rest of the moisturiser from your hands.