At Home with Lisa: Rice bag

There is nothing I love more in the wintertime than turning up the heat and enjoying a cozy day indoors with hot chocolate, a book or a good movie.

But keeping my old house that warm in the winter is not being all that energy efficient. According to Avista’s Energy Guide you should turn your thermostat down to 68 degrees. Turning your heat down just three degrees can save you 10% on your energy bill.

I’m always cold, so that seems like I would feel chilly at 68 degrees. My mother keeps the heat turned down like this in the winter, but she has a secret weapon to keep warm after turning down the heat: homemade heating pads filled with rice.

I asked her how she makes them recently and she showed me. Even though I don’t know how to sew, they are easy to make. Take a rectangular piece of sturdy fabric and fold it so the inside of the fabric is showing. Using a sewing machine, stitch the edges together, leaving a small channel at the top. You want to make sure there aren’t any little holes in your stitching—the rice could escape through those. It kind of looks like an inside-out pocket or bag at this point. Once you’ve done that, turn it inside out so the darker side of the fabric is outside.

Fill the bag with uncooked rice about two-thirds of the way full. You want to leave a little space to be able to sew the top shut. To do that, fold the edges inside and sew them together. Turn the bag around and sew the top again. Mom often sprinkles the bags with essential oils so they smell good when you heat them.

Once you have your rice bag, you can pop it into the microwave for about a minute and a half. Don’t leave them in too long. Make sure they are cool enough to handle before you put them on your feet or curl up with them on a cold night.

It didn’t take us very long to make one, maybe 20 minutes, and that was mostly because I don’t sew and was slow. If you sew them by hand, I’m sure it would take longer. They are also pretty cheap to make, just a scrap of fabric and some rice.

Lisa, an Avista customer, bought her 1910 house because she loved the old-world character, some of which doesn’t make her house very energy efficient. Lisa is sharing her experience on taking some simple do-it-yourself improvements to inspire others to do the same. You’ll find her stories right here every Tuesday.

Read Avista's Energy Guide for more energy savings tips.

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  1. At Home with Lisa
  2. Energy Saving
  3. Winter