The Ethics of Small Town Living: Heat

We haven’t had one of these in a while!

Although you wouldn’t know it from today’s weather — I actually opened the windows earlier to enjoy the 70 degree breeze — winter is on its way. And everyone’s saying it’s going to be a doozy. (I wouldn’t be surprised. The last time I moved back to Maryland, we had snowmaggedon.)

So, one of my new concerns living out in the sticks is this: how do we stay warm without wasting a lot of carbon-based energy and producing more greenhouse gases?

Small towns and rural areas are colder than cities for all sorts of reasons. I won’t get into that here, but have a link, if you’re curious. We also have fewer options as to how our energy is produced. Therefore, it’s important not to just crank up the thermostat. Some ideas:

1. Bundle up. I’m guilty of ignoring this one, especially when it comes to socks. Try adding layers to your indoor attire. Especially remember to wear a knit hat — much of your body heat escapes through your head!

2. Have some friends over. Trust me, accumulated body heat warms up a space much better than the old radiator I had at my last apartment.

3. Tea, anyone? Hot beverages warm you up from the inside out. It’s also cheaper to make your own than brave the cold to visit Starbucks. Or you can also try . . .

4. Spicy food. Rather than actually warming you, spice creates the impression of warmth. Indoors with even minimal heating, we’re not in much danger from the cold. It’s about comfort, which sometimes means you have to trick yourself into feeling warmer. Which brings me to my next suggestion:

5. Have a drink. Be very, very careful with this. Alcohol causes your blood vessels to expand, which makes your skin feel warmer. However, your core temperature actually decreases. So if you’re planning on going out in the cold, don’t drink. It can be deadly. But if you’re at home with some friends and feeling a little chilly in your perfectly safe house? Have a glass of red wine and avoid turning up the heat.

6. Weatherproof your home. My last apartment should have been easy to heat — it was 300 square feet, tops! But it was not at all well-sealed. Be sure to weatherize your windows and doors, and make sure your house is well-insulated before overspending on heating.

7. Cuddle. I’m almost never cold on winter evenings because there’s at least one cat on my lap and a dog at my feet. Grab a furry friend or a human loved one to keep each other warm!

How do you brave winter weather? 

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