Brownian systems often surmount energy barriers by absorbing and emitting heat to and from their local environment. Usually, the temperature gradients created by this heat exchange are assumed to dissipate instantaneously. Here we relax this assumption to consider the case where Brownian dynamics on a time- independent potential can lead to self-induced temperature gradients. In the same way that externally imposed temperature gradients can cause directed motion, these self-induced gradients affect the dynamics of the Brownian system. The result is a coupling between the local environment and the Brownian subsystem. We explore the resulting dynamics and thermodynamics of these coupled systems and develop a robust method for numerical simulation. In particular, by focusing on one-dimensional situations, we show that self-induced temperature gradients reduce barrier-crossing rates. We also consider a heat engine and a heat pump based on temperature gradients induced by a Brownian system in a nonequilibrium potential.