COLUMN: Baby, it’s cold outside … and inside too

Marianne Hale

I am a human Popsicle. At any given moment, my body temperature is hovering somewhere in the frozen-range.

So, as the weather started turning to a teeth-chattering cold in recent weeks, my instincts told me to put on some thick socks and turn on the heat at my house on Old Morgantown Road.

But there’s something different about turning on the heat this year: I have to pay for it.

Before, I lived on campus, where I just cranked up the heat to my heart and body temperature’s content.

But things are different now that I’m renting a house.

Every time my roommates and I want to turn on the heat, the threat of a pricey gas bill is hovering over our heads.

So, we had a few options. One, crank up the heat and suffer the corresponding cranked-up bill. Two, freeze to death. Or three, figure out some relatively inexpensive ways to stay warm without burning up all of our money on heating bills.

The ladies of the 3-1-3, which I’ve affectionately dubbed my residence, went with the third option. The choice led us to what I’ll call a massive insulation project after the purchase of home insulation kits from a home improvement store this weekend.

There we were, armed with tape, scissors, sheets of plastic and hairdryers in an effort to seal up our house’s 12 windows and keep out the cold.

According to Home Depot spokeswoman Jen King, our little insulation project could save about $17 per window annually on our heating bill.

And there are a few other things we could be doing to keep warm without spending much money.

King suggested sealing up any gaps, cracks and crevices in our house that could be letting cold air creep in.

You can usually find cracks near any sort of pipes, plumbing, and dryer vents and also in basements and attics, King said.

They might not look like much, she said, but if you add all the little cracks together, you might have a pretty sizable opening for cold air to get through.

King suggested sealing up all those little imperfections with caulk.

It not only helps keep out the cold, but it also helps ward off pesky critters, like bugs and spiders, King said. (Insert mean joke about keeping my pesky boyfriend out. That would probably take a lot of caulk.)

If you’ve sealed up the house and you’re still feeling cold, you might want to think about getting a space heater.

King has one in her home, and she said the key is to make sure the house is sealed first. A space heater can keep the inside of your home warm as long as you’re not letting hot air fall through the cracks.

And if you’re still cold, you can borrow from a few pages of the Marianne Hale Guide to Staying Warm: Get yourself some thick argyle socks (OK, the argyle part is optional), make some chai tea and snuggle up next to a cuddle buddy.

If you don’t have a significant other to snuggle with, don’t worry; you don’t need one. Any friend or stranger will do.