Stay Warm For Less

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

I’ll never forget the Strongman display I once went to as a kid. I can’t quite remember who the troupe was but I recall their incredible feats of steroid driven strength. Punching holes in cement. Breaking planks over heads. Bending steal bars. Bench pressing cars. Towards the end of the show one of the strongmen had a rather unique trick. He’d inflate a hot water bottle in the same way you’d inflate a balloon. In fact, he’d empty out his lungs, filling up the hot water bottle with air until it popped. The announcer went on about how it was such a deadly trick as if he didn’t blast the bottle with one breath; the air could rush into his lungs and do serious damage. I have no idea if that is true but all I remember thinking as he stood there with a burst hot water bottle was, “You’re going to be cold tonight, moron.”

That odd little anecdote popped into my head the other night as the first truly cold spell clubbed Johannesburg like settlers clubbed hapless Dodos. I realised that I didn’t have a hot water bottle and would end up just like that strongman - cold, except I wouldn’t have steroid driven rage issues to warm me up.

With power outages on the cards and tariff increases, courtesy of only company who asks you NOT to use their product, staying warm in bed may need an efficient and cost effective approach. Here are some nifty ideas we found.

If you have a time machine or know people who collect antiques, a warming pan can be used to pre heat the bed. These items were often handed down as heirlooms and would, in the case of wealthier families, carry exquisite crests or ornate designs. These pans would be filled with coal from the fire and then placed under the blankets, heating the bed.

The verdict: research indicates that they worked well but there is always a chance you could set the bed on fire. And apart from that old 80s Midnight Oil song, there is little enjoyable when the beds are burning.

Microwaveable hot water bottles are growing in popularity and with reason. They generally use sealed bags filled with rice, ensuring that no hot water leaks out and burns you while sleeping. Some are also scented or have quirky cover slips, adding a twist to the old standard.

The verdict: after a while the bags smell similar to popcorn but if you want a relatively cheap and efficient way to pre-warm the bed, these will do.

You could always hire someone to lie in your bed and heat it up for you. While this practice is more than a little creepy, a UK hotel chain offers this as an extra service for guests. Staff wearing special “sleeper suits” climb into bed and heat it up so that guests can enjoy their stay without having to go to the trouble of warming beds up themselves.

The verdict: it is important to check the medical history of people you hire. The last thing you need is a bed-wetter.

Flannel is reportedly is a superior fabric to use if you want to stay warm. The fabric has a long history and is believed to have originated in icy Wales in the 16th century. The verdict: flannel is often plaid in pattern. If choosing such designs be warned, people may think you are a lumberjack.

Other ways to stay warm:

  • a nip of sherry (and by “nip” we mean “jug”)

  • pre-heat the bed with a hair dryer

  • electric blanket (not energy efficient nor suitable for bed-wetters)

  • pets

  • another nip of sherry

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