Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Clo value insulation

Fall sneaked up on me when I wasn’t looking.  Yikes!  I’m not yet prepared.  Gotta get myself in gear and get going.


Have you ever heard of the Clo-value?  It’s a cousin of the R-value of house insulation.  It was invented during the WW2 years when clothing was rationed.  Clo-value is used as a measure of how well an article of clothing insulates a body.

When I was a kid, living with my Grandparents, we had no central heat yet we survived some very harsh winters.  Houses were smaller back then and in the winter you closed off rooms to spend most of your time in one or two rooms.  The walls of their house was just clap boards and wall studs.  Grandma Mama used cardboard and newspaper to create the inside walls.  Similar to this one in a photo from the National archives.

In the fall the pot belly stove was cleaned and blackened and brought back into the house where it sat in the center of the parlor room for when we had company visit.  A wood cook stove was in the kitchen and that’s where we spent most of our time.  The kitchen was the largest room of the house to accommodate all the activities.  The bedrooms were closed off and not heated.  We had no indoor plumbing so freezing pipes was not a concern.

In those days much more was done to insulate the person than was done to heat the space where they lived.  These days you could fill a library with volumes of books and articles about the importance of insulating a home and having energy efficient heating while scant little information can be found about insulating a person.

When I was a kid we wore clothes in the winter.  Layers of clothing kept us warm and comfortable.  Today people try to create tropical heat inside their homes so they can wear scant summer clothing year round.  If you’re wearing a t-shirt around the house in winter you’re wasting money.


When people talk about energy efficient houses they talk about types of furnaces or space heaters and the different types of house insulation or even window types.  But, there is very little discussion about clothing beyond the “dress in layers” statement.  Why not?  Shouldn’t we be learning about the clo value of clothing for winter in the same way we learn about R-value?   Shouldn’t winter clothing have a tag with body warming value in the same way appliances have an energy star rating?  The current clo value system is way outdated and no one seems to be researching a better one.  A pity.

How much can we save by insulating our bodies instead of the space it occupies?  I don’t know for sure but I imagine the savings could be significant.  Our bodies are heating appliances too so making bodies energy efficient should be a priority when thinking of ways to save energy.  This winter I’m going to pay more attention to the clothing I wear around the house.  If I keep my body warm and heat only the rooms I’m in with a space heater it should help keep my energy usage lower.  Well, that’s the goal anyway.


7 comments on “Clo value insulation

  1. boblosan
    October 4, 2016

    I totally agree. I bought a pellet stove for my home and replaced the “fake” fireplace with it. It’s energy efficient, but not if you always keep it at 70 degrees! My husband wears short sleeves and shorts the year around, even in the still of winter. We live in the northeast, and the winters can be brutal at times in January and February, but it’s South Florida in our home.Then he complains about the cost of heating. I love to wear long sleeves, tights under my pants and sweaters, but I can’t do any of that because I will sweat so badly. It’s a darned shame.

  2. Margie in Toronto
    October 3, 2016

    A very good point! I am lucky in that my heat is included with my rent however, I never like my place to be too hot so – I keep flannel PJ’s for winter along with socks and slippers and a warm, wool housecoat. I also keep throws within reach and use a hot water bottle to keep warm as I’m watching TV or reading.

    October 3, 2016

    I learned lifelong lessons about dealing with cold weather when I spent 2 years in tiny Ft Greeley in central Alaska, where my ex was in charge of the Army Meteorological Team… Have been passing them on ever since, especially to all the single mom’s & seniors I meet.

  4. Jasna
    October 3, 2016

    Coming as I do from an area which can get way too cold in winter, what you say makes a LOT of sense!!!
    A couple of winters ago I found a pair of thermic trousers in the thrift shop. They surely make a difference!

    • Anita
      October 4, 2016

      I wish I had that kind of luck. Rarely even find long johns at thrift stores here.

  5. craftytadpole
    October 3, 2016

    Time to dig out the wool socks! I find they work the best to keep me warm all over.

  6. Linda Smith
    October 3, 2016

    I agree! My 17 yr old always comes out of her room in shorts & a little tank top saying “It’s freezing in here”. lol

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