At Home with Lisa: Stay warm with DIY rice bags

For as long as I can remember, my mother has been sewing these little bags filled with rice to warm up my hands and feet during the winter months.

It is so hard to keep my house warm during the winter and be energy efficient at the same time. 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 it seems like I would feel chilly at 68 degrees. Since my mom taught me how to make her rice bags, I am keeping my hands and feet toasty warm as this winter weather quickly sets in.

I don’t know how to sew, but these are simple to make. Take a rectangular piece of sturdy fabric and fold it in half, 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. If you don’t like the smell of rice, you can sprinkle the essential oil of your choice on the outside of the bag, which will smell nice when you heat it.

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.

My mother also makes these bags and fills them with dried beans. They are good to place up against any outside door, like a door snake. The weight of the bag keeps them in place.

Rice bags are cheap to make. You just need a scrap of fabric and a bag of rice. In about 20 minutes, you have a quick way to warm up.

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 morning.

Read more energy-saving tips in Avista's Energy Guide.

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