7 Winter Life Hacks to Keep You Warm

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Introduction: 7 Winter Life Hacks to Keep You Warm

About: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker, and all around Mad Genius

It can be hard to stay warm when the temperature outside drops to -20ºF. So here are a few simple life hacks that can help keep you a little warmer this winter. 

Step 1: Automate Your Coffee Maker

There are a lot of appliances that you can automate with a simple outlet timer. One of these is a coffee maker. All you have to do is fill your coffee maker with water and grounds and set the timer for 15 minutes before you wake up. Then you can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. 

You can also use your automated coffee maker to prepare, hot chocolate, oatmeal, ramen, or soup. The only difference is that you will want to put your ingredients in the pot instead of in the filter. 

Unfortunately this will not work with all coffee makers. Make models will not turn on automatically when plugged in. For best results use a basic coffee maker without any control circuits. 

Step 2: Use Ice to Trick the Thermostat

If you live or work in a building where the thermostat is locked and you can't change the setting, you may be able to trick the thermostat into turning on the heat. 

A thermostat only senses the temperature around the thermostat itself. This is one reason why different parts of a building are often different temperatures. So if you put ice near the thermostat, it will think that the room is colder than it really is and turn on the heater.

WARNING: Do not put an ice cube on the thermostat. Do not do anything that will get moisture in the thermostat. This can cause it to short out and break. Then you will freeze to death and it will be your fault. 

Step 3: Prewarmed Bed

There is nothing like climbing into a warm bed at the end a cold day. So when you are getting ready for bed put an electric blanket under the covers and turn it on low. That way when you go to get into bed it is already warm. 

Always be aware of any potential fire risks when working with an electric heater and be safe.

Step 4: Prewarmed Clothes

If you know what clothes you will be wearing the next day, place then in your dresser and put an electric blanket on top of them. As soon as you wake up, turn it on. This works best if you can reach the control without getting out of bed. Then when you get up and go to get dressed, your clothes will be warm like they just came out of the drier.

If you have an electric blanket that turns on automatically when you plug it in, then you can set it up with an outlet timer to have it pre-warming before your alarm goes off. But as always, be careful to avoid any potential fire risks.

Step 5: Let a Hot Shower Warm and Humidify Your House

When you take a hot bath or shower, don't drain the water. The water has a lot of heat that would just be going down the drain. Let the water sit and cool to room temperature first. That way all the heat stays in your house and the hot water will help to humidify the dry air in your house. 

Step 6: Use Pipe Insulation to Fill Gaps Below Doors

One problem that is often encountered with older houses is large gaps under the doors. This can result is unwanted drafts. They sell products such as "draft blockers" to fill in these gaps. But why pay $10 for a small piece of shaped foam. You can get similar results from a piece of pipe insulation. Just open it up and wrap it around the bottom of the door. It should tightly seal the bottom of the doorway and prevent drafts. 

Step 7: Dead Battery Hand Warmer

Alkaline batteries will usually stop being able to power your electronics long before they are empty. One way to use that last bit of energy is as a hand warmer.

Once your battery is mostly dead, use a 1 ohm resistor (or an equivalent length of wire with at least 1 ohm of resistance) to bridge the terminals. This will slowly drain out the last of the stored energy and release it as heat. This can make a very low powered hand warmer. It won't make a lot of heat, but every bit helps. 


Safety Warnings:
Only use alkaline batteries. Never use other battery types. Lithium batteries can actually explode if they are discharged too quickly. 

Only do this with 1.5V batteries. Never use higher voltages such as 9V or 12V.

Only do this with batteries that are mostly dead. If you use a fresh battery, It will release much more heat and could burn up the resistor and burn your hand. For new batteries you would need to use a 10 ohm resistor.

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82 Discussions

Wow. I love your tips here. Also, I like your voice. I would have never really thought of leaving the bath water in to utilize the extra heat. I live in IL and have lived in WI most of my life - and I'm starting to think about these things now. It seems like fall is non-existent and we move from summer to winter in a blink of an eye! Another thing you can use besides the electric heating pad, is a rice pack heating pad. I made an Instructable on how to make them. The other day I accidentally did something to mine - dropped it in the toilet. :((( It was horrible! lol....so I am about to make a few more of them. They are filled with plain white rice and you just heat it up in the microwave for about 30 sec. to a minute. They help me a lot with stomach aches too - to use it on that. Or sore muscles...but mostly, to warm up my bed or keep me warm! Thanks for the Instructable and tips!

You forgot one very important tip. Stay inside with the heat on! ;)

Here are some no-electricity- required hacks I've been using to feel a little warmer at home:
Layers! Not only is this a great idea for clothing, but also for blankets. I've got 3 on my bed now. And it's easily adjustable, if you feel too warm, just fold the top blanket down.
Let your pets sleep with you. Our tiny chihuahua is happy to get under the blankets with us and her body heat warms us up quickly.
And lastly, rather than mess with the heating pad, I warm my 5 year olds clothes with my butt. Let me explain, I pull out her clothes for the day (layers again) and I stack them in order of which piece goes on first, to last..then I sit on the stack and let her stay under the blankets while I dress her. The clothes warm up fast and there's no fire hazard to worry about. Hahaha.

1 reply

Hahaha! Very well thought oout ;) XD

Really cool ideas. Will use them all <3

The bath tub is an excellent idea: keep the water in the house until it has expelled most of its heat. If you have small children, make sure to lock the bathroom door so they don't wander into the bathroom and fall into the tub.

There's a lot of heat in bathwater and it is nice to recover it into the house.

I feel compelled to warn everyone: please do not use the thermostat "trick!" The condensation from extremely cold objects placed on top of the thermostat, as in the picture, will drip (in liquid form or as water vapor) due to gravity. This eventually results in rapid corrosion of delicate electrical components within the thermostat, as they were likely not speced to handle that much moisture. That will cause a short just as an ice cube would, only over a longer period of time.

12 replies

So much wrong with your comment, but most annoyingly, water vapor does not drip. How can something happen both eventually and rapidly? Also what the hell is speced? Do you mean spec'd? No components are spec'd to be submerged, thats why we have things like Humiseal, which most thermostats are coated with due to humidity conditions.

Although I don't disagree that putting a popsicle on your thermostat is a bad idea, its not a bad idea for any of the reasons you stated. The real danger is shorting the board connected to AC mains power, and potentially starting a fire.

Thank you for your response and critique. What I am trying to say is that the cold object will cause condensation. This increases the concentration of water vapor around it. This water vapor will permeate the thermostat wall unit. While you are correct that humiseal would protect most delicate components, it will not prevent the advanced corrosion of which I speak. For instance, the wall plate unit has bare copper wires exposed. These would experience the advanced corrosion and would be the biggest danger for a fire hazard.

I humbly submit this suggestion with no pretense of infallibility. In summary, extreme temperatures of any kind and electronics do not mix.

Jeez, I was beginning to think it was "Pick on Steve Day". He makes a point and last time I checked, this is not a grammar class.

Absolutely, I think we all new what he meant. I suggest that it is now more difficult to find any more useful pieces of information amongst the pedantic corrections of grammar word usage. I apologize for this comment, as I may be challenged that I am not helping the sittuation.

IKR? everyone is like, "oh water vapor doesn't drip" when he says clearly, "condensation". so many people are just blurting out random things to try bringing him down...

Not trying to knock what you've said but I've never seen "mains voltage" at any stat. Transformer isolated 24vac but that still isn't "mains" where I'm from. Also, most HVAC boards have fuses that will blow in the event of a shorted thermostat.

http://www.morelectricheating.com/products/THERMOSTATS%20AND%20ACCESSORIES/LINE%20VOLTAGE%20THERMOSTATS.aspx

Also, when you mention rapidly and eventually, he says that it will eventually condensate so much that the water drips, and the water corrodes the electric inside. Speced also is slang for "specialized" if you didn't know that

Yes and it won't happen rapildy, it will take months even if you constantly swap new popsicles to keep a constant rate of condensation. Also condensate is the noun, (the actual liquid result of the condensation process) not the verb. I am aware of the slang but even the slang is spelled with 2 c's, not one. Just saying that it destroys sentence clarity if speced (which is actually pronounced completely differently than specced) is read without being recognized as a spelling mistake, which is entirely possible. Either way, almost no components are spec'd for submersion anyway. All circuits that undergo submersion are put in some kind of waterproofing so the actual circuit does not come into contact with the water (or they are completely coated in a layer of protectant like the humiseal I mentioned above).

You don't get me and him... If you put ice on top, the condensation will slowly form, and then once it forms, it drips, onto the circuits, and damaging them quickly. Trust me, I once poured water of a circuit board before. Almost instantly, it just sparked and the whole thing was dead. And yes, you ARE in fact admitting that almost no circuits are not waterproof, so... Also, as the heat goes up, the condensation builds up faster too.

No Im saying components (the parts on the pwb) are not spec'd for submersion. Whole pwbs are frequently covered in a special sealant if they expect to see water. Most consumer electronics don't, but anything expecting to be used in high humidity will be coated. I work with and design for pwbs daily so I am fully aware what components are spec'd for and how they react to water.

Nice try Brian but spec'd is a contraction for specifications