The cost-of-living crisis is on everyone’s minds right now, with lots of us trying to find ways to save money on bills.
One of the most pressing matters is rising heating costs which is prompting people to look for ways to keep our homes warm without spending too much.
So, being a logical bunch, we thought, why not ask those that live in colder climates? After all – with so much experience living in sometimes sub-zero temperatures, they’re bound to have some handy hints to help.
From warm bed hacks to cost-cutting energy savers, read on to find out more.
Bed stoves in China
It can get pretty cold in northeast China which is why they’ve come up with some interesting ways heat their homes during the winter months. However, rather than popping a hot water bottle under the covers to keep their beds toasty, some people in China prefer to sleep on something called a kang bed, or bed stove. This bed consists of a clay brick platform with a hole underneath which houses a small fire. The platform then conducts the heat throughout the bed during the night.
Although it could be considered an innovative idea, it doesn’t sound the safest way to sleep if you don't know what you're doing!
If you prefer a warm bed without the fire hazard, consider our warm bed options:
Slumberland Eco Solutions 1000 Mattress
This mattress offers a summer side and a winter side to help keep you cosy and warm in winter and cool in summer. The winter side has a cuddle-tastic snuggle fabric top with a wool layer to really keep you warm.
Eco Solutions 1000 double mattress cost: 21p per night* based on mattress price over guarantee period
The Slumberland Eco Solutions collection also includes the Slumberland Eco Solutions 1400 mattress, Slumberland Eco Solutions 2200 mattress and also complete Eco Solutions bed sets.
All Seasons Duvet from Slumberland
Team your new mattress with an All-Seasons duvet from Slumberland for a super toasty sleep beneath the 13.5 tog duvet option during those cold winter months. This nifty design has been created to keep you at the ideal temperature throughout the year with the combination of a 4.5 tog duvet for summer and a 9-tog duvet for spring. These can then be combined to form a cosy 13.5 tog autumn/winter duvet.
Wondering how to keep warm without putting the heating on? Ask the Inuits
Residing in certain areas of Canada, Greenland and the Arctic, the Inuits have a method of keeping warm that has worked for thousands of years: igloos.
The BBC website has an interesting diagram that reveals why igloos don’t melt and how body heat can keep the inhabitants warm. Constructing an igloo involves including insulation in the form of a snow-bank that surrounds the igloo. The igloo will then be built in a spiral of ice blocks that curve upwards until complete. Inside the igloo, there’s a high platform on which the inhabitants sleep. As heat rises, it makes sense to sleep on a high platform rather than the floor of the igloo. It may surprise you to know that there is also a hole or vent in the igloo, which is needed to allow fresh air in, and the water vapour caused by breath, out. The vent helps the interior to remain dry.
Although it’s highly impractical for UK residents to consider building igloos to keep warm (even though it sounds like a lot of fun!), we can gain inspiration from some of the strategies to keep our houses warm:
Sleeping higher up
Jupiter Wooden Sleeper
As heated air is thinner than colder air, it makes sense that it naturally rises. Therefore, kids sleeping in the top of a bunk bed, or a high or midsleeper bed could feel the benefits.
Using first storey rooms during the day as well as night
Again, as heat rises, it will make its way up to the second level of your home. You may therefore want to consider converting bedrooms into living areas so you can benefit from warmer air during the day.
Stop heat going upstairs
If you don’t fancy converting your upstairs into the living area, prevent the heat from going upwards by blocking off the stairwell with a heavy curtain. Stairways make it easy for heat to creep upwards and so blocking this pathway allows you to retain heat downstairs.
Stay safe - keep vents open
It may be tempting to close any vents leading to the outside of your home but it’s important not to do this.
Why shouldn’t I close my vents to stay warm?
Air vents are in your home for a reason. They've been designed to allow air to flow through your home, and also to prevent a build-up of humidity. Excess humidity can lead to mould, which then can lead to health problems. (1)
Dressing Russian style
To say that some parts of Russia can get pretty cold would be an understatement. During winter, the temperature in the coldest city in Russia, Khabarovsk, can dip to -22°C. So how do the residents of this chilly city stay warm? Much like the famous Russian Doll, the key to keeping warm is lots and lots of layers. (2)
Why dress in layers?
The human body radiates heat but when you’re wet, either from perspiration or from being caught in snow or rain, heat transfers from your body to the moisture. This is why it's important to remain wrapped up after exercise, so that when your perspiration draws the heat away from your body you can still keep warm. Cold air can also cool you down and so when your skin is exposed to cold air you will definitely feel the chill. (3)
By wearing a moisture-wicking first layer, you can avoid moisture staying on your skin and cooling you down. This thin, first layer should draw that moisture away from your body and outwards. The best materials for the first layer. Closest to your skin is wool or synthetics. You may be tempted to choose a cotton layer, but this will only keep the moisture close to our skin and not wick it away.
A second layer is intended to keep you warm. Fleeces are a popular choice and the colder it is, the thicker your fleece should be. You could also opt for insulated jackets such as ones containing down or a jacket with synthetic fillings. The problem with down insulated jackets is that if they get wet, they will no longer keep you as warm. Synthetic jackets however tend to keep you warm even if they get wet.
A third outer layer is needed if you want to keep warm outdoors. This is a waterproof layer with a hood to protect you from the elements. If you are layering to keep warm indoors, there may be no need for this layer. However, a waterproof outer layer also protects you from windchill. Drafts will almost certainly make you chilly and if you aren’t currently able to fix any gaps in doors and walls, an outer layer such as this could help to keep you warm until you can.
Wearing these layers outside can prevent you from being cold once you return home from being out in the cold. This is because you will avoid getting wet from snow and rain and so your body will be able to retain its heat instead of it being transferred away.
The importance of sleep during the cost-of-living crisis
Worrying about finances can have a devastating impact on your sleep. And, as explored in our article, How Sleep Deprivation Affects You, those on the lowest incomes can feel so stressed that they can’t sleep.
An uncomfortable bed, or worn-out mattress may also hinder your sleep, which is why it can be a worry if you can’t afford to buy the right mattresses for you and your family.
Putting your Sleep Wellness® at the heart of everything we do
When we say we care about the quality of your sleep we mean it.
The new and improved Simply by Bensons collection of mattresses, bedding, and beds offers a comfortable and cosy night’s sleep at an affordable price.
The Simply by Bensons Collection – value for money and a great night’s sleep
There are seven mattresses in the range - all seven are available online, and a choice of five are ready to purchase in store.
- If you like an open coil mattress, consider the Happy, Smile, or Bliss mattresses.
- If pocket sprung mattresses are more your style, take a look at the Calm, Glow, Bloom, and Beam mattresses from Simply by Bensons.
- Keen for an extra layer of comfort? Go for the Beam mattress which boasts a pillowtop feature.
The collection includes a choice of medium, firm, or extra firm comfort ratings, so you can select the right one for your needs.
Simply by Bensons Smile double mattress cost: 11p per night* based on mattress price over guarantee period.
Doing our bit to help the environment
We’re always looking for ways we can help our planet. Which is why the seven Simply by Bensons mattresses include a layer that features a minimum of 42% recycled plastic – converted into a supportive and comfortable fabric finish.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the fillings are completely free of any animal products, making the mattresses suitable for vegans.
One-off costs versus long term expense
Investing in a temperature regulating mattress such as the iGel™ Advance range of mattresses may prove more cost-effective than short-term solutions. An iGel™ Advance mattress helps to regulate your temperature as you sleep, and this not only applies to the warmer months but when it’s cold too.
As tempting as it is to buy an electric blanket, for example, you’ll also have to consider the high electricity costs that products like these can incur.
A quality temperature regulating mattress is something that will last for years without incurring extra costs such as electricity supply.
Links to helpful resources during the cost-of-living crisis
If you’re struggling with bills, or the crisis is taking its toll on your physical or mental health, there are charities, groups and resources you can access for help:
The Government’s Help for Households Campaign
This government online publication gives details of grants, and payments you may be entitled to, including:
- Energy Bills Support Scheme
- £650 one-off Cost of Living payment for those on means tested benefits
- £300 one-off Pensioner Cost of Living Payment
- £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment
- Household Support Fund
- Help with childcare costs
- Help with transport costs
- Discounts and offers from businesses
Find out more here
This is a national charity that can advise on many different problems and point you in the right direction for the resources and contacts you need.
Citizens Advice has a dedicated page with information about the cost-of-living crisis, including:
- Help with debt
- Checking what benefits, you are entitled to
- Getting advance payments on certain benefits
- Help from your local council
- Help from the Government
- Help with essential costs such as bills and rent
- Help creating a budget
You can contact Citizens Advice online or by calling the Advice line in England on 0800 144 8848, or the Advice Line in Wales on 0800 702 2020 If you are unable to hear or speak on the ‘phone, you can type what you want to say by calling 18001 and then 0800 144 8884.
Mind is a mental health charity that can offer support and advice when you need help for a mental health problem. Visit Mind.org for more information. The Mind website offers advice on:
- Who to contact if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
- Getting a referral to a mental health specialist
- Recommendations for local support tin your area
The NHS website offers advice on who to call when you are feeling ill and in an emergency.
You can also register for, or log in to your NHS account to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and to access other healthcare services.
Click here to be taken to the NHS website.
* Prices correct at time of publishing