My “Weatherize This” posts are all about cheap and easy energy-efficiency fixes. The intent behind these draft-busting, money-saving remedies is to keep the cold out of and the heat in your home and they generally require you to alter your home in some way; the altercation can be visible (shrink wrap covering a window) or not (a foam gasket placed behind an outlet cover).

We often forget that the simplest way to be comfortably frugal during the winter doesn’t require a DIY fix-it job. Just reach into your closet and grab a sweater.

Now I’m not saying that you should turn your heat completely off and layer to the extreme this winter, but if you do feel a slight chill on a particularly cold day, just don your favorite sweater, sweatshirt, hoody, cardigan, turtleneck, jumper, pull-over, or what have you instead of running to the thermostat and cranking up the heat full-blast. According to The Daily Green, wearing a lightweight sweater will add 2 degrees of warmth while wearing a heavier one can add up to 4 degrees. 

Something useful that I practice is keeping a dedicated “house sweater” within reach. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — a well-loved, cable-knit hand-me-down, a too-ugly-to-wear-outside reject gifted to you by Grandma last Christmas (see above photo), or a funky thrift store find will do — so no need to go out and buy a new wardrobe just to insulate yourself at home.

My house sweater is a comfy fleece zip-up that’s a bit too small and stained for “normal” use (I don’t know why I went with white considering my predilection for spills). I live on the top floor of an old building surrounded by the Lower New York Bay on three sides so on windy nights when I don’t want to crank the heat all the way up (it ain’t cheap) this stained white zip-up is my best amigo.

With the holidays approaching you may want to treat yourself or a love one to a new sweater that will come in handy at home. If that’s the case, look into buying one that’s made from sustainable fibers like organic cotton, eco fleece (spun from recycled plastic), organic wool, hemp, cashmere or alpaca fiber. And be sure to check out the web stores of eco-clothiers like Nau, Patagonia, Alternative Apparel, Loomstate, Edun, Rawganique, Howies, and Mission Playground … there’s many deals to be had right now. Knitting your own is also an earth-friendly option.

Do you don an extra layer instead of tweaking the thermostat on very cold days? What kind of energy savings have you experienced by doing this? 

Photo: Zac Fisher Photo

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Weatherize this: Sweaters
One of the most vital, accessible home weatherization tools is sitting in your closet, not on the shelves of your local hardware store: the sweater.