It’s a rule of thumb for Northwestern students: If your conversation reaches that awkward silent gap, you are bound to succeed in reviving it by talking about the horrible winter. That’s so cliche. Next time, cut down on your complaints and bring up strategies to fight the numbing weather. Trust me, people will walk away from that conversation impressed by your knowledge and grateful for your tips. Here are eight tips to keep you extra warm this winter.
1. Turn on a fan
Not kidding. Fans aren’t just for summers. These machines are made to circulate air in the room. If used properly, they can help to distribute cold and hot air evenly throughout the room Since warm air tends to rise, we want to push it down to where the cold, cold people are. Run your fan on its lowest setting in a clockwise direction – which pulls air upward and displaces warm air down the sides of the room – until you can feel the warm air around you.
2. Block drafts with a pool noodle
Cut a pool noodle to a suitable length and slide it under your door. You can also use any insulating fabric, such as a blanket, a folded mat or even unwanted clothing. You could reuse the items once winter is over, if they’re not terribly ruined by friction between the floor and the door.
3. Bake all day
Once you start baking, the oven will dry the air and heat the kitchen. After you’re done, leave the door open to let some heat into the room. Only leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes, so you aren’t wasting energy and causing your utility bill to skyrocket. You might even start a fire, which will keep you more than warm.
Speaking of cooking, avoid methods of food preparation like boiling that give off steam. Higher humidity in the air will make the room feel colder because water has a greater heat capacity than dry air and takes longer to warm up.
Go on, get closer. And there are good scientific reasons for why it works.
“When hugging, the total volume of the pair stays the same, but they share a boundary ... if they are different temperatures, heat flowing through this boundary will work to warm up the colder person,” says Nathaniel Stern, a Northwestern physics professor. “Therefore, the total heat of the two people would not reduce as fast.”
Hugging also stimulates the release of oxytocin from the hypothalamus in the brain. It’s a "bonding hormone" that makes people feel secure and trusting toward each other. So the physical intimacy not only makes you warmer, but happier, too. Next time you want to get closer to your crush, use physics to convince them.
5. Wear a hat
Heat tends to escape from your extremities, such as your feet and your head. Wearing a wool hat or beanie not only keeps your head warm, but your body as well. Even if you are all bundled up but still have your head exposed, your body heat will escape from your head, which is about 10 percent of your body’s surface area.
“That exposed 10 percent is a big deal!” Stern says. “Where a hat really shines is protecting your ears. Without covering, your ears are exposed and can get very cold or even frostbitten.”
6. Stay active
Although it’s very tempting to stay inside and burrito yourself with a blanket when the wind is howling outside, it’s helpful to boost your metabolism with a little physical activity. If trekking all the way to Henry Crown Sports Pavilion in the knee-deep snow sounds like a death sentence, you can always work out in your room. Think push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks. Or you can do some house chores to get moving, and your roommates will be very thankful.
7. Drink something hot
You can live your best life and be the tea-drinking cat lady sitting in a rocking chair you’ve always wanted to be! Maybe you don’t have a rocking chair or a cat, and maybe you’re not that old, but admittedly a hot beverage in winter can warm you up from the inside out. Some all-time favorites include ginger tea, apple cider and hot chocolate. Be creative with what you add into the mixture at your own peril.
8. Heat a bag of beans
If Number 4 doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have friends, you can warm a bag of beans in the microwave or oven and snuggle with the bag. It may be even more effective than hugging a human being!