Igloos keep people warm by helping them preserve the heat their own body is making. In the Arctic there may be a lot of precipitation and harsh winds, both of which contribute to loss of body temperature. Precipitation that falls on a body cools it and winds cause heat loss via convection. The igloo shelters people from these conditions. Igloos also take advantage of the rule that heat rises; the entrance is built at a lower level to direct cold air there while the part used for sleeping is constructed at a higher level where there will be more heat.
Igloos were created as temporary living spaces: smaller ones for one or two people on a hunting trip, and larger ones for more long term, though still temporary use. Due to the characteristics that americalibre described, igloos have the potential to heat to 40 degrees above the outside temperature. In addition to blocking wind and retaining body heat, igloos are effective at holding heat because a few days after construction, the interior walls will have slightly melted and refrozen, forming a solid block of ice. This more solid material better performs the duties mentioned above.
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