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cheap ways to keep warm

by Rebecca Varcoe

When I lived with my parents, teenage me would argue till I was blue in the face with my dad about his cost-saving measures in the winter. He would be forever bellowing, “WERE YOU BORN IN A TENT?” at me whenever I forgot to close a door, checking my windows were shut tight, constantly begging me to please stop sitting directly on top of the heating ducts on the floor of our living room and thus blocking the warm air from reaching the rest of the room.

I thought he was crazy. A scrooge. Now, living alone and paying the household bills myself I realise my father was a genius. A wise and frugal man. We should all tremble before his cost-saving measures. As a peace offering to the Dad Universe, here are some of my own tips for keeping warm on a budget this winter.

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COOK AT HOME MORE OFTEN You ever watched Masterchef? Those folks get super-sweaty when they’re cooking up a storm. Sure, they’re creating masterpieces in the kitchen, but for some of us, the stress of making Easy Mac is enough to get the heart racing. Not only will the exertion of the cooking itself get you heated, but having that stovetop burning will turn your house into a furnace before you can say “George Colombaris”.

USE LEFTOVER EGG CONTAINERS TO INSULATE YOUR WINDOWS Sure, go ahead – laugh away. I’ll just sit here in my cosy, dark home, with limited natural light from the recycled cardboard all over the windows, but warm from insulated windows and the layer of blubber I’ve accumulated from eating buttery eggs for every single meal for two months.

HOT WATER BOTTLES I have burnt myself countless times on hot water bottles, either from ignoring the instruction to “not use boiling water” and missing the spout and pouring fresh-out-of-the-kettle water all over my hands, or foregoing the use of a cover and pressing melting hot rubber directly on my bare thighs. I’ve burned it all. These injuries, however, will not deter me from my rubbery mistress. She calls to me each night and I am forced to let her into my bed, burning my stomach but keeping me cosy all night long. Why stop at one? Keep one for the living room, one for the car, one to zip into your jacket on your commute to work, one for your desk at work. The limit does not exist.

COVER YOURSELF IN ADHESIVE HEAT PACKS Sure this one might be wasteful, but so is burning up all that gas or electricity to keep you warm on the couch! Instead of turning those bad boys on, grab a few packets of those adhesive warmers probably meant for injured athletes to place on affected areas, and instead stick them on your tummy, butt, boobs, hands or forearms. Cover with your warmest woolly jumper and you’re your own portable heater.

UGG BOOTS Buy some damn Ugg Boots. Real, wool-lined Ugg Boots. Honestly, the smartest financial decision you will ever make. Not only will you feel like you’re walking on clouds, but your toes will be the toastiest they’ve ever been. The cost-per-wear on my Ugg Boots is sitting at 0.01c because I wear them almost constantly.

BOTTLE YOUR FATHER’S RAGE AND UNLEASH IT IN A ROOM WITH ALL THE DOORS CLOSED Show this article to your dad and tell him he was right along: heating bills are so expensive, if you’d have known maybe you would have taken shorter hot showers and not spent hours napping directly in front of electric fan heaters. Watch him boil over in “I told you so” rage while he accepts this is not the last time this kind of thing will happen. Capture that rage, bottle it, store it for later use.

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