• Jenny Hill

Make Life Easier in Cold Weather

It’s January! The bright sun on sparkly snow in January can be spectacular but below-zero weather can make life seem unpleasant and some activities downright dangerous. Here are some tips to help you navigate cold weather, outdoors and indoors.


What You Wear


The reason you so often hear the advice to dress in layers is because it works! This graphic from the National Weather Service does not include one of my favorite “finger savers” which is a thin pair of gloves under larger wind-proof gloves or mittens. That way when you have to take off your gloves or mittens (to tie your boot or fish out your keys), your hands are still protected.


And if you don’t–or can’t–stay sheltered or covered up, here’s what to watch out for, according to the Center for Disease Control. The image below is part of a larger graphic from the Center for Disease Control.


Where You Live


If you or someone you know has trouble paying for utilities over the winter, use this link to see what assistance is available through the State of Minnesota: https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/


The Minnesota Department of Commerce website has many types of useful information including these actions that homeowners and renters can take immediately to reduce energy costs including tips on controlling your furnace, adding plastic film over windows and adjusting your heat registers. For more details, see this video on energy-saving tips from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.


Even with government assistance, the cost of heating your home during the winter can be high and cause financial strain. Here are a few more tips and tricks from the U.S. Department of Energy to ensure your heating is running as efficiently as possible.

  • Let the sun heat your home. By opening curtains and shades during sunlight hours, the sunshine will warm the home, lowering the stress on your heating system.

  • Check your heating system and vents for dust or broken parts. Your system will have to work harder if there are issues. Keeping your system clean and working smoothly allows for the most efficient use of your heating system.

  • Lower the temperature at night. While you want the house to be comfortable during the day, adding an extra blanket to your bed may allow you to lower the thermostat 10-15 degrees, cutting heating costs by up to 10% per year.

  • Conserving hot water will not only help the environment but will also lower your energy bills. Shorten hot showers or wash dishes efficiently to lower your hot water energy bill each month.

  • Seal any air duct leaks. An open duct can let hot air escape, making your heating system work even harder to keep the house warm. Seal up leaks yourself, or have a professional inspect and seal them, to save on the energy needed to heat your home.

What You Do


Winter months are a great time to practice extra self-care, try a little self-improvement and learn something new.

  • Give it time–it takes about 2 weeks for the average person to adjust to a change in temperature.

  • Move your body–staying active by exercising indoors or outdoors is great for your physical and mental health.

  • Eat well! Spicy foods, at least one hot meal per day, plenty of fruits and vegetables and unprocessed food will sustain you.

  • Fight cabin fever by learning something new. Read a book by an author you’ve never heard of. Explore virtual or in-person classes at our Back to Basics event. Topics range from homesteading, food, health, well-being, gardening, and sustainability with knowledgeable, friendly presenters.

  • Get outdoors–even a little bit each day. Watch for details about our Winter Bingo Scavenger Hunt coming soon!

Although it can feel like it in January and February, winter doesn’t last forever. Appreciating what you can do and see at this time of year makes for some great memories in the heat of a July day.