Until this past August we lived in an old house. It was built in 1902. Over the first 10 years that we were there we did renovations, including insulation, to make the place warmer in the winter months. For the years that we were there, visitors (mostly my family – sorry folks) would often comment or complain about how cold it was. Now we’re living in newer home with two wood stoves that supplement the forced air heating but I’ve decided that I actually like it a little colder. Turns out it is actually healthier for us and for the environment.
The thing is our bodies adjust to temperature changes. As Canadians we do that quite well. We do add a bunch of layers of clothing in the winter but isn’t it amazing how 10° C feels so warm in the spring compared to the fall? We acclimatize as we expose ourselves to changes in temperature. Keeping our homes warm in the winter to the point where we are comfortable wearing short sleeves doesn’t do our bodies much good and really does make winter feel a lot longer than it has to.
There are two main health benefits from living in colder temperatures, and they are:
- Weight loss – when your body has to work to keep you warm it burns calories. The trick is not to replace those calories.
- Quality sleep – we sleep better when it’s cold, and we know there are a host of benefits from sleeping well.
Making a change to your home environment should be gradual. Drop the thermostat by 1 or 2 degrees per week until you find your comfort zone. The beauty of making this adjustment is that being outside won’t feel as cold, and the winters won’t feel as long. Then there’s the added benefit of saving money on heating costs. However, I truly believe the greatest good is that if we all dropped the thermostat (or raised it in the hot parts of the world that use air conditioning) a couple of degrees we’d be helping to slow climate change. Talk about win-win!
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