As temperatures begin to drop, consumers may soon have a lot more on their minds than the coming winter chill. Since 2010, many states have seen the cost of home heating oil rise by as much as 30% or more. Depending on where you live, a particularly glacial season could put a serious freeze on your budget. So instead of just cranking up the thermostat, check out these six alternative tools for keeping costs down and the heat up. Splurging on all of these high-tech solutions could cost you a pretty penny, but pick out one or two and your wallet may thank you come Spring.
1. Cuddle Up with a USB Blanket
If you spend a lot of time at home on the computer, this USB Heated Shawl and Lap Blanket ($24.95) is perfect for keeping away the chills. It plugs into any USB port, comes with two cords and can be worn over the shoulders or across your lap. Just pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in.
2. Keep Your Toes Toasty with Battery-Powered Heating Socks
The The 12 Hour Heated Socks ($24.95) have a thin battery-powered heating element encased in the toe that won’t overheat, and are made out of “moisture-wicking” material to keep you toasty, not sweaty.
3. Get Efficient with a Programmable Thermostat
This one’s a no-brainer so if you don’t have one, get one. A programmable thermostat will automatically lower the temperature of your home at night or while you’re out and about, making the heat run less when you’re not actively using it.
4. Stay Mobile with Touch-Screen Gloves
iPhone users have long known the frustration of trying to text, swipe or tap while out in the elements. Hopefully you won’t need gloves in the house too often, but when Jack Frost really comes a knockin’, these babies from Agloves made with a special conductive material will keep you connected.
5. Dodge the Draft with Outlet Insulation
Drafts pass in and out of the home through the outlet and outlet covers, especially the ones along exterior walls. Fortunately there are special outlet and switch gaskets specially made to reduce drafts. Ask your local hardware store or just DIY.
6. Go Old School with the Hot Water Bottle
OK, this is hardly high-tech, but this ingenious invention is still one of the best and easiest ways to stay warm in bed, as well as soothe aches and pains. It’s cheap, reusable and will last forever. Tell that to your soon-to-be obsolete iPhone 4.