WINTER PREPARATIONS

“During World War II many consumer goods were rationed for civilians in order to supply more goods for both American and Allied troops. Among the items rationed were sugar, red meat, gas, oil, coffee, and rubber. In October 1942 fuel oil was rationed. During the especially cold winter of 1942-43 this brought numerous protests from citizens. A temperature of 65 degrees was set as the standard for homes, by the federal government.”

For us Southern Californians, winter is winter only in the sense of the word.  Compared with other parts of the state we typically have what many consider mild winters.  No blizzards or snow just chilly temperatures and sometimes damp days. Nothing that would require us to spend weeks prepping for (no snow shovel, laying in of firewood, buying heating oil)  Actually I would consider us rather lackadaisical about the change of season.  Or rather Angelinos like to be moan our missed weekends if they are rain out or like comedian Sindbad says “when temperatures drop below 60 – it’s close the schools and save the children!”  Yeah, we Angelinos are pretty pathetic when we have to deal with any REAL weather.  Heaven forbid we have a none sunny day.

Here on the urban homestead given that our winters are relatively mild the winterization of our home isn’t much to speak of.  We do what we have done for the past twenty years (and we are hearty and stronger for it) living in the city.

Our winter preparations include (off the top of my head and it’s still morning so, here it goes)

1. Use heat only when necessary – we try holding off using any source of heat until we really, really have to.  I would take a guess that out of 365 days in the year we only use our very efficient wood stove less than 30 of those days.

2, Bundle up – out come the (hand) knitted caps, socks, scarfs, jackets, sweaters and more jackets (purchased primarily from thrift stores).  Though we may look like we’ve lost our way and should be in Siberia, wearing all those layers does do the trick.

3. Chores –  moving those muscles and heating up our inner thermos. With garden, animal and other urban homestead chores it keeps the blood going and body warm.

4, Bread baking.  Now is the time to do a bit more baking in the kitchen.  Nothing heats up the house and your stomach like a warm piece of bread with homemade jam.

5, Soups da jour.  Warm & hearty meals warm the soul.

6. Blankets, blankets and more blankets.  Given that we don’t have central heat and the bedrooms could be on many a winters day a meat locker we pile on blankets on the bed to give us a bit of extra protection from the cold.

How are you winterizing your home?

What sort of low impact solutions have you come up with to keep warm?

If you are new to low impact living, in history there’s really good examples of how the greatest generation conserved resources for a good cause (PBS 1940 House).    Today more than ever we need to reduce our extraneous use of resources and perhaps these nifty old time propaganda posters will rally your family into action for the winter.

Here’s an interesting article

“New arrivals went to the village office and picked up hand tools, wood, wire netting and fibro to clear their blocks, put up fences and grow vegetables, or run … poultry. It was all about self-sufficiency, getting back to basics,”

At the same time, Dr Jensen questioned the ability of 21st-century Australians – accustomed to abundance, softened by material comforts, isolated by selfish pursuits – to cope, and to help others cope, with coming hardships.

“We’re experiencing a significant economic downturn, with possible increases in unemployment, poverty, homelessness, even hunger.” Where now, he wondered, were the qualities of “mateship, good neighbourliness and lending a hand to those in need”.

A suburb for our times: Depression-era village in Australia

:: Field Hand Appreciation :: GM $20 donation.  Thank you.

Comments(32)

  1. Terry says:

    Yes, you Angelinos are pretty pathetic when it comes to a little cool breeze! But I sure envy your year round growing ability! 🙂

    Here in Michigan I make sure the outside caulk is in order, put plastic on windows that don’t need to open till spring, have plenty of blankets around the living room and on the bed. I work at home, so I also wear fingerless gloves made from socks that the heels wore out, wear an ankle length hoody over my clothes, and sometimes even a hat, because my office has 2 outside facing walls and I can’t keep it warm in there. I do bake more frequently. I keep quilts hanging on the open doorways in the living room so that the heat will stay in there and to heck with the rest of the house! Its just me and my husband mostly and he stays in the living room, and me in my office, so unless I am baking, those are the only warm rooms in the house.

    Having a dog and cat who like to sleep in the bed with me helps too!

    On the rare sunny day, I open the drapes to let the sun help warm things – but usually a sunny day means its colder, so unless I’ve got plastic on that window, I keep the drapes closed.

    Sometimes the dreariness gets to me though.

  2. Terry says:

    Yes, you Angelinos are pretty pathetic when it comes to a little cool breeze! But I sure envy your year round growing ability! 🙂

    Here in Michigan I make sure the outside caulk is in order, put plastic on windows that don’t need to open till spring, have plenty of blankets around the living room and on the bed. I work at home, so I also wear fingerless gloves made from socks that the heels wore out, wear an ankle length hoody over my clothes, and sometimes even a hat, because my office has 2 outside facing walls and I can’t keep it warm in there. I do bake more frequently. I keep quilts hanging on the open doorways in the living room so that the heat will stay in there and to heck with the rest of the house! Its just me and my husband mostly and he stays in the living room, and me in my office, so unless I am baking, those are the only warm rooms in the house.

    Having a dog and cat who like to sleep in the bed with me helps too!

    On the rare sunny day, I open the drapes to let the sun help warm things – but usually a sunny day means its colder, so unless I’ve got plastic on that window, I keep the drapes closed.

    Sometimes the dreariness gets to me though.

  3. Ro says:

    Up here in Minnesota it gets COLD. I keep the heat set a little lower than most people, 66 degrees. During the day I leave the blinds open to let the sun warm up the house, other than that I have blankets around the house and bake and make soup a lot too. I have a newer home so it’s well insulated and it has the double pane windows that are more energy efficient, but in the dead of winter (air temps can have a high of -10 degrees with -30 to -40 windchills for a couple of weeks at a time) the furnace has to run a lot.

  4. Ro says:

    Up here in Minnesota it gets COLD. I keep the heat set a little lower than most people, 66 degrees. During the day I leave the blinds open to let the sun warm up the house, other than that I have blankets around the house and bake and make soup a lot too. I have a newer home so it’s well insulated and it has the double pane windows that are more energy efficient, but in the dead of winter (air temps can have a high of -10 degrees with -30 to -40 windchills for a couple of weeks at a time) the furnace has to run a lot.

  5. Susy says:

    We do everything we can to avoid using so much fuel. We keep our house at 60 in the day 55 at night, we bake breads & other things and ead lots of soups. We wear sweaters & wooly socks around all day as well. We also have a small home and make sure it’s well insulated.

    But being here in NE Ohio where the weather in in the 10’s-20’s most of the winter it’s hard to not use a lot of fuel.

    Next year we’re hoping to get a wood burner to heat with.

  6. Susy says:

    We do everything we can to avoid using so much fuel. We keep our house at 60 in the day 55 at night, we bake breads & other things and ead lots of soups. We wear sweaters & wooly socks around all day as well. We also have a small home and make sure it’s well insulated.

    But being here in NE Ohio where the weather in in the 10’s-20’s most of the winter it’s hard to not use a lot of fuel.

    Next year we’re hoping to get a wood burner to heat with.

  7. Wendy says:

    Here in Maine, we’ve committed to not using our furnace this year. We installed a more efficient woodstove, which, so far, has done a remarkable job of keeping the house warm enough. Of course, “warm enough” is really subjective, and as it’s wood heat, the temperature is not consistent. The front rooms where the woodstove is, are all very warm. The bedrooms are all very cold, which makes it nice for sleeping ;).

    That said, it really needs to be pretty uncomfortably chilly before we’ll light up the stove, because it takes a lot of effort to start a fire and keep it burning – constant vigilance :). If it gets above 60 outside during the day, there’s no heat in the house, and it has to drop into the low 40s/high 30s at night for a week or more before we start using the woodstove.

    We do a lot of the things you do. When the fall weather hits (which is probably equivalent to your winter ;), we put on a sweater or a sweatshirt and that becomes part of our wardrobe – inside or out – for the next six months. I also drink a lot of hot beverages. My favorite is green tea, lightly sweetened with raw sugar ;).

  8. Wendy says:

    Here in Maine, we’ve committed to not using our furnace this year. We installed a more efficient woodstove, which, so far, has done a remarkable job of keeping the house warm enough. Of course, “warm enough” is really subjective, and as it’s wood heat, the temperature is not consistent. The front rooms where the woodstove is, are all very warm. The bedrooms are all very cold, which makes it nice for sleeping ;).

    That said, it really needs to be pretty uncomfortably chilly before we’ll light up the stove, because it takes a lot of effort to start a fire and keep it burning – constant vigilance :). If it gets above 60 outside during the day, there’s no heat in the house, and it has to drop into the low 40s/high 30s at night for a week or more before we start using the woodstove.

    We do a lot of the things you do. When the fall weather hits (which is probably equivalent to your winter ;), we put on a sweater or a sweatshirt and that becomes part of our wardrobe – inside or out – for the next six months. I also drink a lot of hot beverages. My favorite is green tea, lightly sweetened with raw sugar ;).

  9. Andrea says:

    SW Ohio here…we’ve replaced our old windows with double paned energy efficient ones, replaced our old fuel oil furnace with a more efficient model, will be installing a wood stove in another week or so, added extra insulation in the roof and walls, hung heavier drapes so it ‘feels’ warmer and planted trees as a windblock.

    We keep the kids in blanket sleepers or thermal unionsuits, and we wear sweatshirts, sweaters, woolen slippers, etc. In the evenings we all tend to snuggle on the couch under a big thick blanket with a big bowl of popcorn for a movie or reading books, and there’s nothing as warm and cozy as that : )

  10. Andrea says:

    SW Ohio here…we’ve replaced our old windows with double paned energy efficient ones, replaced our old fuel oil furnace with a more efficient model, will be installing a wood stove in another week or so, added extra insulation in the roof and walls, hung heavier drapes so it ‘feels’ warmer and planted trees as a windblock.

    We keep the kids in blanket sleepers or thermal unionsuits, and we wear sweatshirts, sweaters, woolen slippers, etc. In the evenings we all tend to snuggle on the couch under a big thick blanket with a big bowl of popcorn for a movie or reading books, and there’s nothing as warm and cozy as that : )

  11. Stacy says:

    We’re true winter wimps, me being third generation Californian, hubby living here since he was 1. We do lay in firewood (the in-laws help find/chop it and then ask us to take some away when their wood rack is full) for the living room fireplace. While not a high efficiency stove (I wish – the emissions are horrible) it was outfitted with a convection piping system so it gets the front of the house pretty darn toasty within an hour. And I don’t mind tending it, as I love playing with having fires! We curtain off the back of the house (with the thermostat/heater) so we can control how much the heater works at night, and prevent the living room fireplace from confusing the heater in the early evenings.

    We always pull out more blankets. And my full length flannel skirt gets more usage. I’ve contemplated making petticoats for it for the “heavy” cold. But the bias is stretching as it ages – need to hem it up to keep it out of the wet. The in-laws have also gifted us with thermal underthings to help keep us toasty.

    My acorn drying during winter also helps keep the front of the house warm, as does soup (last year we had more chicken stock in the freezer than “soup days” to use it!) and holiday baking. Oatmeal helps, too! Hot tea and chocolate… My last house had thick drapes over windows to help insulate, but we’ve not gotten around to that in the past three years here (funny how a baby cuts into the crafting, and the PhD work cuts into the budget…).

  12. Stacy says:

    We’re true winter wimps, me being third generation Californian, hubby living here since he was 1. We do lay in firewood (the in-laws help find/chop it and then ask us to take some away when their wood rack is full) for the living room fireplace. While not a high efficiency stove (I wish – the emissions are horrible) it was outfitted with a convection piping system so it gets the front of the house pretty darn toasty within an hour. And I don’t mind tending it, as I love playing with having fires! We curtain off the back of the house (with the thermostat/heater) so we can control how much the heater works at night, and prevent the living room fireplace from confusing the heater in the early evenings.

    We always pull out more blankets. And my full length flannel skirt gets more usage. I’ve contemplated making petticoats for it for the “heavy” cold. But the bias is stretching as it ages – need to hem it up to keep it out of the wet. The in-laws have also gifted us with thermal underthings to help keep us toasty.

    My acorn drying during winter also helps keep the front of the house warm, as does soup (last year we had more chicken stock in the freezer than “soup days” to use it!) and holiday baking. Oatmeal helps, too! Hot tea and chocolate… My last house had thick drapes over windows to help insulate, but we’ve not gotten around to that in the past three years here (funny how a baby cuts into the crafting, and the PhD work cuts into the budget…).

  13. Kerr says:

    This works for me in NoCal, so it should work for you in SoCal. I live in a drafty attic room, and I’ve mostly surrounded my bed with space blankets. On my nightstand I put a little candle heater, which is a device made of terracotta flowerpots to capture and radiate the heat of a candle. Most of the day I just wear a sweater around the house, but about an hour before bed, I put a candle (beeswax is my favorite) in the candle heater. That warms up the air in my bed-tent nicely. Blowing out the candle before going to sleep is a valuable safety precaution.

    Cautions: Candles burn things. They also make smoke (although most of that is caught by the candle heater) and use up oxygen. Plan accordingly.

  14. Kerr says:

    This works for me in NoCal, so it should work for you in SoCal. I live in a drafty attic room, and I’ve mostly surrounded my bed with space blankets. On my nightstand I put a little candle heater, which is a device made of terracotta flowerpots to capture and radiate the heat of a candle. Most of the day I just wear a sweater around the house, but about an hour before bed, I put a candle (beeswax is my favorite) in the candle heater. That warms up the air in my bed-tent nicely. Blowing out the candle before going to sleep is a valuable safety precaution.

    Cautions: Candles burn things. They also make smoke (although most of that is caught by the candle heater) and use up oxygen. Plan accordingly.

  15. Sinfonian says:

    While nowhere near as cold as some posters here, it does get chilly in Seattle. Of course it never gets cold, so that’s why we have the mis-nomer USDA climate zone of 8b but a Sunset zone of a measly 5. Hehe. Anyway, over the last three years we took advantage of the federal tax credits to upgrade our house. We’re nowhere near the Dervaes, but we did install new double-pane windows (the old ones are coldframes now), blew in attic insulation, and installed a new 90% efficient natural gas furnace. We did all the work ourselves and hopefully will save lots of money and energy heating our home this winter.

    Of course we still layer when we can, and wear warm slippers on our concrete slab floors, but we’ve got little toddlers so we do have to heat our home. Thanfully about every other day I can get away with 66 degrees until after 9, then I heat it up to 70 for an hour and then turn it down again for the night time. The cool part is yesterday the thermometer read 68 degrees when I woke up and it was only set for 65. So that means over 8 hours at night the temperature only dropped 2 degrees. Insane!

    So, that’s how I winterize. Next…

  16. Sinfonian says:

    While nowhere near as cold as some posters here, it does get chilly in Seattle. Of course it never gets cold, so that’s why we have the mis-nomer USDA climate zone of 8b but a Sunset zone of a measly 5. Hehe. Anyway, over the last three years we took advantage of the federal tax credits to upgrade our house. We’re nowhere near the Dervaes, but we did install new double-pane windows (the old ones are coldframes now), blew in attic insulation, and installed a new 90% efficient natural gas furnace. We did all the work ourselves and hopefully will save lots of money and energy heating our home this winter.

    Of course we still layer when we can, and wear warm slippers on our concrete slab floors, but we’ve got little toddlers so we do have to heat our home. Thanfully about every other day I can get away with 66 degrees until after 9, then I heat it up to 70 for an hour and then turn it down again for the night time. The cool part is yesterday the thermometer read 68 degrees when I woke up and it was only set for 65. So that means over 8 hours at night the temperature only dropped 2 degrees. Insane!

    So, that’s how I winterize. Next…

  17. Jan says:

    Kentucky here…. We always place the plastic on the windows ( have used the same for years) , extra blankets on the beds, everyone is gone in the day time( whether school or work) so tend to turn down the heat open the blinds, let the sunshine in,. I spend most of my time outside so I build a fire in the stove in the garage. I do turn the heat up about 30 minutes before everyone is to return home. We also place quilts on the doors as they let alot of air in. Next year we hope to have a wood furnace in the home and burn scrap wood. I do bake alot this time of year. We bundle up also.

  18. Jan says:

    Kentucky here…. We always place the plastic on the windows ( have used the same for years) , extra blankets on the beds, everyone is gone in the day time( whether school or work) so tend to turn down the heat open the blinds, let the sunshine in,. I spend most of my time outside so I build a fire in the stove in the garage. I do turn the heat up about 30 minutes before everyone is to return home. We also place quilts on the doors as they let alot of air in. Next year we hope to have a wood furnace in the home and burn scrap wood. I do bake alot this time of year. We bundle up also.

  19. Jenn says:

    I live in Ontario, and it gets really cold here in the winter. I live in an apartment, and don’t have control over the ambient heat (which is minimal, at best), but I never turn on the fan (which makes the heat higher and spread further). In the winter, I just wear a lot of layers, and as much wool as possible (especially socks). I put as many blankets and duvets as possible on the bed and couch and any extras get tacked up over the windows – doesn’t look so great, but it helps a lot. And, I try to eat a lot of warming foods, and hang out in the kitchen when the oven’s on – thus far, it’s worked well.

  20. Jenn says:

    I live in Ontario, and it gets really cold here in the winter. I live in an apartment, and don’t have control over the ambient heat (which is minimal, at best), but I never turn on the fan (which makes the heat higher and spread further). In the winter, I just wear a lot of layers, and as much wool as possible (especially socks). I put as many blankets and duvets as possible on the bed and couch and any extras get tacked up over the windows – doesn’t look so great, but it helps a lot. And, I try to eat a lot of warming foods, and hang out in the kitchen when the oven’s on – thus far, it’s worked well.

  21. Laurie says:

    Winter in Wisconsin is the time to cuddle with other mammals. I am so thankful for my family and pets! We love to cuddle under afghans and read books or knit. The programmable thermostat is very much my friend and is set to 50 degrees when no humans are around (or out of bed) and 62 when we are. I curtain off the mud room where the worst drafts come from (dogs contribute a lot of body heat, but darn they go in and outside alot!) We wear hats and warm slippers, and also eat quite a bit more than we do during warm weather. I have personally noticed that the cold is so much harder to handle when it first comes around (late fall). By the deepest part of winter, I’ve adjusted and feel more comfortable. That’s when I have difficulties going to friends houses because they are so overheated!

  22. Laurie says:

    Winter in Wisconsin is the time to cuddle with other mammals. I am so thankful for my family and pets! We love to cuddle under afghans and read books or knit. The programmable thermostat is very much my friend and is set to 50 degrees when no humans are around (or out of bed) and 62 when we are. I curtain off the mud room where the worst drafts come from (dogs contribute a lot of body heat, but darn they go in and outside alot!) We wear hats and warm slippers, and also eat quite a bit more than we do during warm weather. I have personally noticed that the cold is so much harder to handle when it first comes around (late fall). By the deepest part of winter, I’ve adjusted and feel more comfortable. That’s when I have difficulties going to friends houses because they are so overheated!

  23. Linda says:

    SoCal here – we don’t get much of a winter, but we do get some cold winds. I live in an old house (1937) that is drafty at the best of times, but all the rooms have doors on them. We close up the back of the house (bedrooms and bathroom) and don’t ever heat that – extra blankets and a down comforter go a LONG way. The front of the house is where we hang out the most, and either run the furnace or bake a lot. Both keep that section pretty toasty warm.
    We have a fireplace, but it is kept blocked out with a foldable metal piece to keep the warm air from being sucked out. We discovered THAT trick our first winter season in the house. It was amazing how much warmer the house was when the fireplace was blocked! Plus, 5 dogs in the room with two humans generate a fair amount of body heat. They are one of the reasons why it’s so easy to leave the back of the house unheated. When we all go to sleep in the bedroom (no, they are not all allowed on the bed – there would be no room for my hubbie and I!), 7 warm bodies can really raise the temp pretty quickly.
    So, like most everyone, we wear lots of layers, sit with blankets over our laps, and get up and move every once in a while, eat and drink warm liquids, makes soups and bake. Winter is pretty wonderful, quite frankly! It’s my favorite time of the year 🙂

  24. Linda says:

    SoCal here – we don’t get much of a winter, but we do get some cold winds. I live in an old house (1937) that is drafty at the best of times, but all the rooms have doors on them. We close up the back of the house (bedrooms and bathroom) and don’t ever heat that – extra blankets and a down comforter go a LONG way. The front of the house is where we hang out the most, and either run the furnace or bake a lot. Both keep that section pretty toasty warm.
    We have a fireplace, but it is kept blocked out with a foldable metal piece to keep the warm air from being sucked out. We discovered THAT trick our first winter season in the house. It was amazing how much warmer the house was when the fireplace was blocked! Plus, 5 dogs in the room with two humans generate a fair amount of body heat. They are one of the reasons why it’s so easy to leave the back of the house unheated. When we all go to sleep in the bedroom (no, they are not all allowed on the bed – there would be no room for my hubbie and I!), 7 warm bodies can really raise the temp pretty quickly.
    So, like most everyone, we wear lots of layers, sit with blankets over our laps, and get up and move every once in a while, eat and drink warm liquids, makes soups and bake. Winter is pretty wonderful, quite frankly! It’s my favorite time of the year 🙂

  25. risa b says:

    We have a wood stove and here in central western Oregon it gets used a lot, especially during freezing fog. But with blankets over doorways, plastic and window blankets over windows, and serious insulation above and below, many days we can manage with two big chunks of wood in the morning and another two in the evening. An early bedtime helps. Also sweaters.

  26. risa b says:

    We have a wood stove and here in central western Oregon it gets used a lot, especially during freezing fog. But with blankets over doorways, plastic and window blankets over windows, and serious insulation above and below, many days we can manage with two big chunks of wood in the morning and another two in the evening. An early bedtime helps. Also sweaters.

  27. BRRRRRRRR | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] You can read other ways we like to keep warm here on the urban homestead. […]

  28. BRRRRRRRR | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] You can read other ways we like to keep warm here on the urban homestead. […]

  29. Vooch says:

    Westchester County NY.

    1960 ranchhouse
    58 degrees at night
    64 in the morning when we wake up
    62 during the day when we are home
    64 when the kids take their baths
    58 at night.

    Oil consumption was 800 gallons a season 10 years ago, now is around 450 gallons.

    FYI – Many homes in SoCal didn’t even have heat until the 1940’s. NZ homes also didn’t reallyhave heat in Wellington when I was there in the 1970’s.

  30. Vooch says:

    Westchester County NY.

    1960 ranchhouse
    58 degrees at night
    64 in the morning when we wake up
    62 during the day when we are home
    64 when the kids take their baths
    58 at night.

    Oil consumption was 800 gallons a season 10 years ago, now is around 450 gallons.

    FYI – Many homes in SoCal didn’t even have heat until the 1940’s. NZ homes also didn’t reallyhave heat in Wellington when I was there in the 1970’s.

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  32. Sonja Wauford says:

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