Using a vintage hot water bottle to stay warm and lower your energy bill

I’ve seen many news articles and posts on the forum here about rising energy costs and rightfully so, it is discouraging.

Following the example of brownfox-ff from the weekly news roundups, I would like to share an idea to help. Take action rather then be reacted upon. I don’t thank brownfox-ff enough but I do read their weekly uplifting support and try and work on one or two that week.

The past few months have been cold, especially at night. Instead of turning to the thermostat and clicking it up a few degrees to solve the issue I have been thinking of ways I can overcome my trial in a different way.

Tip #1 One of the big solutions that has helped is to move my couch and computer desk in front of windows so that when I am just sitting there, the warmth of the sun heats me up.

Tip #2 I’ve been wearing more clothing lately. It involves putting on another shirt or a jacket when just around the house during the day. At night I put on a hoodie, a beanie, and an extra blanket on top of my pajamas to keep the warmth in more.

Tip #3 When I just can’t seem to get warm from the above steps, I go to my secret top tip of using a hot water bottle to snuggle up to. These have been around for years and years but I’ve seen them fall out of fashion. Here’s a classic red one on Amazon for $6. The one I have is blue and has a comfortable outer sleeve to reduce the heat against bare skin.


If you don’t have one with a sleeve you can sew one up yourself or just wrap a dish towel around it. All this costs me is the energy that it takes to boil two electric kettles of water and then I have hot water for the entire 9 hours I sleep. I wake up and the bottle is still warm!

I bought this as a way to stay warm without having to rely on a fireplace or furnace and couldn’t be happier. It’s a nice little preparedness item that you should consider. Even if all the stuff hits the fan, we can probably boil some water over a fire.

Thank you all for reading.


  • Comments (6)

    • 5

      The hot water bottle is my go to trick for camping! I use a stainless steel water bottle (with silicone gasket, no leaks!), filled with hot/boiling water & slipped into a wool sock. It’s a great no tech way to keep warm, and to initially heat up bedding that may otherwise be frigid & damp. Can’t go to sleep without it when camping, and it would be a great help in a disaster situation. Plus the water is still drinkable…

    • 3

      Failing the water bottle, my grandmother used to heat up scrap iron window weights on her little wood cookstove then wrap them in some newspaper for the foot of my bed.  As most have never even heard of window weights and newspaper either perhaps, maybe an old brick or run of the mill stone wrapped in a towel would work.

      Need I say it but don’t burn yourself, don’t heat rocks from the river lest they have a water-filled hollow and explode from steam, always wear eye protection, consult your local authorities and lift with your back…

      sleep tight


      • 3

        I haven’t thought about window weights in 50 years! My father showed us that the cotton rope would eventually dry out and fail and how to replace it in the channel. That’s a technology that will probably never come back.

        My wife and I use Polartec throws around our feet at night under the blankets on the coldest nights. That usually does the trick.

        On a very cold night I have found that sleeping on top of a wool blanket – on top of the box sheet – will warm me a great deal. The cotton sheets absorb body moisture and chill me but the wool insulates.

    • 4

      When I lived in Europe I would fill large, 1.5 liter soda bottles with hot water and surround myself in the bed with them!  (European soda bottles are washed and reused, and thus are much thicker and can take the heat vs those in the US).  It saved my sanity – and my sleep! – in the winter.  I also use that trick at conferences where the AC is on too high. I fill a (thin) water bottle partly with cold water, then add hot water on top (if you use all hot water the bottle will melt), and use it as a hand warmer in those cold meeting rooms.   

    • 3

      Thanks for the reminder that it’s easy to make a sleeve — I had been overlooking that and would wrap mine hot water heater in a towel.

      Speaker of low tech ways to maintain personal heat:

      When I converted to working from home, I found my apartment was colder to work in than the office, and since years before I had already had some non-ideal interactions with my landlord about making the heat higher when it was cold outside, I was looking for some low-tech alternative methods to keeping warm at home. I found this article discussing the author’s approach to heating a specific person (the example being, while they are working at a desk): https://richsoil.com/electric-heat.jsp After reading the article, I was making a shopping list of electric warmers for my feet and hands, when I decided to try out the principles with items I already have.

      I had a spare pair of wool felt liners meant for winter boots (it was the size that didn’t fit quite so well in my boots), so those became my “sitting at my desk” slip on shoes. I had a chunk of closed-cell-foam (that I normally carried in my backpack to the office, as an emergency insulator), so that went under the desk for me to place my feet on top and further insulate them from the cold floor.

      I also had plenty of blankets, and spot intended for external keyboards under the top of my work desk, so, I took several blankets and draped them over the external keyboard shelf and created a way to easily drape the blankets over my lap when I pulled my chair into the desk (but also not require me to put the blanket anyway when I left the desk). I also draped more blankets over and around my chair, to block air movement from behind me (onto my back, or onto the back of my legs).

      After two years, I’m still using all pieces of this system to stay more comfortable when at my computer, and I notice how much warmer I am when I get up from the desk on cool days. When I finally get back into an office, I might have to risk some odd looks and keep up with the blanket on my lap approach.

    • 3

      Hi Alisa,

      Thanks for posting about this and the timely reminder since the weather will get colder for us in the Southern Hemisphere for the next few months. We don’t have AC at all – we open windows as far as they go in summer and close them to just open in winter. We keep them open otherwise the house gets stuffy and we just add extra layers. I have a blankie I throw over my lap on the coldest nights when I’m on the couch reading or watching TV. I have this habit of flicking the blanket over my seat when I have to get up to keep my seat warm for when I get back. 🙂

      Mind you, cold is relative. I am firmly acclimated to a sub-tropical climate, so I am pulling on a lightweight jacket or jumper (sweater) when the temps hit about 21-22°C (69-70°F). Not that cold in the grand scheme of things, but chilly for me!

      I am with you with you about brownfox-ff. Those little lists at the end of each round-up are brilliant.