Monday, January 25, 2010

Re-calibrating your internal thermostat

Bleatings from EnviRambo.




Last week I received an email from a producer at the Weather Channel. They were looking for people to participate in their "58-Degree Challenge" on the "Weekend View". While we do still keep our thermostat set low (62 day/50 night), I could not really give them what they were looking for - specifically a short video showing what we do to stay warm, "i.e. bundling up in snuggies, using the family pet as a lap-warmer, etc". You see, none of that is necessary for us to keep warm, we just are.


For the past two years I (and my family against their will) have participated in Crunchy Chicken's "Freeze Yer Buns" Challenge. After burning through exorbitant amounts of fuel oil the first year in our "new" 106-year old home with the thermostat set at only 62-degrees, the following year I cranked it down to 55 and signed on for the challenge.


That was last year and it was brutal. Spending the day at home required wearing half your wardrobe! Long underwear were a must. Top that with multiple layers of pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, and it was not uncommon to see me sporting scarves and gloves in the house either. We lived in robes and slippers all hours of the day. Slippers and heavy socks were needed to keep our feet from freezing on the cold uninsulated hardwood floors. Robes added another layer of insulation to keep our core temperature from dropping. Hot chocolate, hot showers, lots of baking, anything to keep warm-ish. I add "ish" because we were never really warm. Come April 55-degrees will feel wonderfully warm, but 55-degrees inside your home in the middle of winter in Wisconsin is anything but. My palm tree died, my bread never rose, my nose always ran, my washer froze along with the clothes in it, and we froze our buns off. Last year I would have had tons of fodder for the Weather Channel's challenge!

This year, not so much. Last Fall we replaced our extremely inefficient fuel-oil furnace with a brand-spanking new high-efficiency natural gas one. Not having any experience with the cost of natural gas, I was not about to go hog-wild and crank the thermostat to 70, but a few degree increase could not hurt. We have received two full-month's heating bills thus far and the savings are considerable. Pleased with a bill one-fourth of what we were paying the previous year, I agreed to turn up the heat.

We settled on 62-degrees during the day and 50-degrees overnight. 62-degrees our first year in this home felt cold, but after enduring last year's 55-degree deep-freeze, 62 is nice and toasty. In fact, some days it feels too toasty. I cannot believe I am saying so, but it is true. Even hubby has commented on it. No long underwear, no hot chocolate, no multiple layers, and no scarves or gloves indoors! We are warm. Socks and slippers are still a must, hopefully next Fall we will be adding insulation, but life has returned to normal - for us. Guests still think our house is cold, but we really know what cold is. It is amazing what people are able to adapt to. While 70 may be comfortable for you, I think we would melt. I remember days when the temperature never dipped below 70 in our house. It was not all that long ago! Now I cannot conceive the needle rising over 64.


While I would like to participate in the Weather Channel's challenge, loafing around in normal everyday attire doing the same things that people who do use their heat, somehow does not seem news worthy. Rather unexciting news if nothing else. We are on board for this year's "Freeze Yer Buns" challenge, although it does not feel like much of a challenge anymore. I definitely do not feel like going back to 55-degrees, but maybe we could turn down a degree or two? Who knows, after 4 or 5 years of adapting to lower and lower temperatures we may be saying 55 is too toasty. Nah!

9 comments:

Eco Yogini said...

oh I wish we could participate in something like this- currently our thermostat is set at 10 degrees celcius... and it gets to -20 or more outside here.... and our apartment REMAINS above 20, sometimes we have to OPEN the windows it's so hot.

seriously, some of the older people in our building must have the heat CRANKED.

In any case, it's been so hot that we've adjusted to the heat and now when we visit friends we FREEZE. Grrr. wish we had more control over our heating.

someday.

The Raven said...

They contacted me too and I begged off because of extreme shyness--but also because it just seems like our life. We're cold; so what? Sometimes we are so cold we complain. Sometimes we are so cold we laugh. But it just isn't much of a story to tell the Weather Channel! We are at 58-59 during the day--but when we crank it up to 62 it is comfy, isn't it?! I think we'll have to get a more efficient heater...

panamamama said...

We've lowered ours but only to 67 in the day and 62 at night. I can handle it but the rest of my family is constantly complaining! We REALLY need to replace our system and ductwork but ouch.

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

i'm with eco yogini, i cannot wait until the day i can have my own home and control heating. it's so inefficient having someone else control my heat because my super has no idea when we're home and not. i get cold very easily but i'm hoping that with a programmable thermostat i could arrange for the home to be frigid during sleeping and office hours to make up for the warmth that i need the rest of the time.

Karen Moser-Booth said...

"It's amazing what people are able to adapt to"--exactly! Kudos to you and your fam. I'd encourage you all to sign the Architecture2030 petition, which would provide tax credits for things like super efficient furnaces and awesome insulation: http://www.architecture2030.org.

Condo Blues said...

You can send the Weather Channel my way! I keep the heat set at 58 during the day and I work at home. I wear layers, drink hot tea, and snuggle up to my CPU. It surprising but both my and my husband's computer's put out quite a bit of heat and act as little space heaters in our office.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I felt the same way when I got that same email. Like, um I wear a sweatshirt at home instead of short sleeves? That's not really newsworthy!

Today the temp is abnormally high outside, 55 degrees, and the heat was still on at school. I cleaned my classroom after work and it was SOOOOOO hot. I've found that I feel hot in other people's houses, so hot when it's only like 70.

Daisy said...

A friend rented a house that was built to be a summer cottage. In winter it never got above 55. She told us she never showered there; always worked out at the Y, showered there, stayed warm that way. Then she got pregnant and proclaimed, "We're moving!" You two could exchange stories of long underwear!

Kellie said...

Love it!

We freeze our buns as well in the winter. Today I had to peal my sweater off because it was so hot in our house. I looked at our little thermometer and it was 69*. (Our house was built with tons of windows for passive solar heating.) Gotta love free heat!

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