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How to keep warm without heating: savvy tips from Mumsnet users

As we head into the colder months, the cost of living crisis is beginning to bite. Here are some tips from Mumsnet users on how to keep warm without heating this winter.

By Natasha Gregson | Last updated Jun 13, 2023

hands shielding candles

With the current energy crisis, rising living costs and gas shortages, many are worried about the cost of keeping warm this winter.

Sadly, we've seen many discussions on the Mumsnet forums about ways to stay warm without relying on central heating. From the best electric blanket to heat your body to the savviest methods of insulating your home, our users have been sharing their wisdom and tried-and-tested tips for staying toasty as temperatures drop.

If you want to use your central heating less frequently, it's essential that you make sure you're keeping your body warm. Insulating your feet from the cold floor with a pair of the best women's slippers is a great start, but on the iciest of days you may need some more help to heat your whole body. If you're starting to feel the chill and are reluctant to turn your thermostat on, read on for nine effective ways to warm up, including heated products that cost less to run than central heating and methods to stay toasty that don't cost a penny.

Why it's important to stay warm

For many people, cold weather is a genuine health risk, meaning staying warm this winter is not just desirable but essential. At cold temperatures there’s a higher risk of stroke, respiratory infections as well as falls or other kinds of accidents due to people's reduced dexterity at lower temperatures.

Cold homes can be particularly difficult for people with existing health conditions. Generally, chronic pain is worse at cold temperatures. A 2016 study described a woman with Ehlers-Danlos and other conditions who found that pain in her arm and nose was much more present during periods of cold weather.

Mould and damp are much more prevalent in cold homes too, both of which are also a risk factor to people’s health. While many are avoiding putting on the heating to save money this winter, this could actually lead to mould in the home, so it’s important to strike the right balance when using the central heating and not further damage your house or, more importantly, your health.

However, if you do need to limit using central heating where possible, what can you do to try and address these risks and stay warm this winter? We’ve been scouring Mumsnet Talk forums for the users’ best tips on how to keep out the cold and stay warm without heating. Keep reading to find out more.

10 ways to keep warm without heating

1. Layer up

Across the Talk Forums, Mumsnet users discussed the importance of wearing layers to stay warm without heating around the house, particularly if you’re sitting still. For this, they recommended things like the best thermal underwear for women, as well as jumpers, scarves and hats.

Some users suggested wearing fingerless gloves while working at the computer. Across the forums, many also suggested investing in the best blanket hoodie, a long oversized wearable blanket, to wear around the house - a cheaper way to keep warm than turning on the heating.

What Mumsnetters say

“I've got long, sleeved fingerless gloves from Amazon. Like socks. Cheap as chips and I can't believe how much warmer my hands - indeed all of me - are when I'm at the computer… [I also wear] fluffy socks and croc-type shoes as slippers. By far the cheapest and warmest solution - the soles stop cold coming up through the floor.” picklemewalnuts

2. Keep doors closed and curtains drawn

Insulate the room by keeping unused rooms sealed off to stop heat escaping and stay warm without heating. An estimated 35% of heat escapes through walls, windows and doors, so close them to prevent heat from leaking into the rooms you aren’t using.

Closing curtains (or even investing in a pair of the best thermal curtains) are also good ways to retain heat in a room and prevent draughts coming through windows.

What Mumsnetters say

"A big thick curtain over draughty doors made a huge difference... Keep the curtains closed as soon as gets dark. Keep doors shut in the house." 80swaistcoat

3. Snuggle up with a hot water bottle

Hot water bottle

This old school trick is a great way to keep warm without heating, just make sure the water isn’t scalding and don’t fill it to the top.

There are multiple ways of using the best hot water bottle. You can either have it on your lap if you’re sat at a desk and working or watching TV at night. Hot water bottles are also a great way of warming up before bed or you can put a hot water bottle under the duvet five to 10 minutes before you get in bed to get everything nice and toasty before you go to sleep. Warmth calms down the nervous system, so it will help you relax and drift off too.

And, providing they're older than four, you can also keep little ones toasty using a kids' hot water bottle too – just make sure it's appropriate for their age.

What Mumsnetters say

“If I'm sitting still for long periods and it's very cold, I put a hot water bottle between the small of my back and the chair back (bliss).” MintJulia

4. Stay active

This can be a challenge if you work a desk job. But the consensus across the forums seemed to be that it was easier to maintain warmth than let your body temperature drop. So, if you can, get up regularly to keep warm without heating.

Moving around helps encourage blood flow around the body so try to move around at least once an hour, and avoid sitting for extended periods. If you do sit, try and keep your feet up, as the ground is coldest spot.

What Mumsnetters say

“It's easier to stay warm than to get warm, I think. So, keep the layers on. Don't let your feet get cold.” Murasakispillowbook

5. Sip hot drinks

Hot drink on the side

Sipping warm drinks is not only comforting, but it's also a great way to keep warm in a cold house. Holding something hot in your hands can bring that extra bit of warmth to the fingers – and who doesn’t feel soothed by sipping something toasty? Users' suggestions ranged from hot water with a slice of lemon, to hot squash to warm milk (amongst the regular teas and coffees).

If you’re conscious of reboiling the kettle and using energy that way, why not pour the leftover boiling water into a Thermos flask? That way you can reuse the water when it comes time to fill up your hot water bottle.

Alternatively, another way to keep fingers toasty is using one of the best hand warmers – our budget pick is available for just £7.

What Mumsnetters say

“Boiled water with a pinch of turmeric and a twist of black pepper. It's really good for you as well.” JaneJeffer

6. Use heated throws and electric blankets

Like having your own personal heater – and you don’t have to heat the whole house, meaning they are an effective way to stay warm without heating. While the best heated throw and electric blankets may be costly at first too, they are much cheaper to run than having central heating on, so after the initial investment you could save money.

This is also a great solution if you’re working from home and don't want to put the central heating on to heat up the whole house for one person.

We've also seen a sharp rise in popularity of the best heated gilet too – they work like an electric blanket, but you can wear them freely around the house for toasty comfort all day.

What Mumsnetters say

"I cannot live without my electric blanket. Happy to go without all other heating but my blanket is essential!" Sally99

7. Gather the family in one room (or have people over!)

Family in living room

As silly as it sounds, the more people in the room, the more body heat shared. So gather your family in one room in the evening rather than sitting separately – getting all snug cuddling under blankets will help you stay toasty too.

You can turn it into a family film or games night and get your furry friend involved too – cuddling up with pets is also a good way of sharing body heat.

Alternatively, let people know they’ll need to layer up and invite them over for hot drinks, which will be sure to warm the soul. You never know, you might be more active with others around too. Conclusion: get people round, get moving, talking and even dancing.

What Mumsnetters say

“I used to live with a friend in an old damp cottage that we couldn’t afford to heat. We used to get up and dance about to get warm.” Coolyule

8. Block draughts by taping under doors

Draught seal tape across the cracks of doors and windows can allow rooms to retain heat better – doors and windows are key culprits when it comes to losing heat from the house. Upping their ability to trap heat will make your house more efficient and help you keep warm without heating.

It's not just doors and windows that can cause a draughty room too – chimneys, floors and even letterboxes can let cool air in too. To help you better insulate your home, we've compiled a guide to the best draught excluders, as recommended by Mumsnet users, including options for a variety of culprits.

What Mumsnetters say

“Sounds weird, but cover any single glazed windows with bubble wrap (cheap on eBay), doubled up if needed. Keeps the worst of the cold out, but lets some light through.” TaxTheRatFarms

9. Warm up pyjamas and clothes before you put them on

man in PJs

There are a few ways of doing this: ranging from popping them in the tumble dryer briefly before you put them on, or wrapping them around hot water bottles, or even warming them up with a hairdryer. All of these will help you feel that little bit warmer as you get into bed and keep you warm without heating this winter.

Just bear in mind that you will need to factor in the cost of the heating method you're using – it's likely that a hot water bottle will be the cheapest way to do this, whereas using the tumble dryer won't be that cost-effective.

What Mumsnetters said

“I tumble dry (briefly) some warm soft PJs and get straight into those once dry.” Rarotonga

How to keep your bedroom warm without central heating

What about the bedroom in particular? How do we stay warm and get a good night’s sleep without having to turn on the heating? Luckily Mumsnetters have tips for that too...

When warming up the bedroom, you need to think about materials. Swapping out linen for fleece and cotton can be an easy way to get things heating up. Applying this principle to what you choose to wear to bed can be useful too – go for fleece versions of the best women's dressing gowns and men's dressing gowns, hooded blankets and oversized hoodies when thinking about how to keep warm.

How to keep your living room warm without central heating

And the living room? Again, think about materials, lay down rugs to absorb heat and provide a warm surface to walk on. Consider a candle heater as an alternative to a fire or central heating.

How to keep your kitchen warm without heating

In the kitchen, warmth can be shared from the oven by leaving it open (under observation) for 10-15 minutes after you finish cooking to circulate warm air in the room. Cooking also gets you moving and active, meaning you’ll warm up from doing it. Like in the bedroom, rugs help warm up hard floors.

How to keep your bathroom warm without heating

Cold bathrooms are a mould trap, so try and keep it at a decent temperature. Laying down bath mats can also help to keep the floor from being too freezing, and you should stop all the draughts you can by taping over gaps in doors and windows.