Friday, January 16, 2009

Freezin our bunz off

Well, I don't think the thermometer outside got above zero all day yesterday. With the wind chills approaching -30 in some parts of the state, it was just plain cold.

Dave and I have been participating in Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Your Bunz Off challenge this winter. To that end we (I) vowed not to set the thermostat higher than 65. Since we don't have a programmable thermostat, I'm not setting a different temp for nighttime, it's just staying around 63 all the time. Now, the thing is, the thermostat is in THE warmest part of the house. It's in the dining room, which only has one external wall, and one window, both of which are covered by one of my wall hangings. So, I'm pretty sure our living room, which has the tv/computer in it, is at least 5 degrees cooler, and the basement where we shower is probably somewhere between 50-60. I should find a thermometer so I can accurately document the differences, but I haven't got around to it.

Now, even I find this a bit chilly, in spite of being in my third trimester with baby. But, it's not intolerable, and really I think it has it's plus sides. When we are lounging in the living room in the evenings, we keep our layers on; for me it's a sweater, for Dave it's his long johns. We both have house slippers that stay on until bed time and we both have lap blankets that we cuddle with. And Rienne is a fine lap warmer when you can get her to sit where you'd like. Three simple steps (4 if you count the cat) and we're both toasty warm.

The pluses include easier humidity. Heating the air in our home involves flame, which produces a dry heat, it would take a huge humidifier to counterbalance all that drying if we kept the house at a warmer temp. We get by with just a small room humidifier in the bedroom. The higher humidity is easier on our mucous membranes. Couple that with the benefits of minimizing the temp swings as we go from indoor to outdoor and I think we stay healthier. We've both weathered illnesses this winter that brought our co-workers to a screeching halt.

The other major plus is we are still ahead on our heating bill. I had us paying a hundred dollars over on the gas bill this summer and fall as part of the "budget billing" option offered by our gas company. Now we are only paying for a fraction of what we are using and halfway through the winter we still have a surplus to draw on.

I've been rather pleased with the experiment. In fact, if we stay in this house another year I will probably petition my landlady for a programmable thermostat so I can decrease the house temp during the night.

The only downside has been my grow nook. I have it down in the basement, and I have seeds I want to start, but I know they need 70 degrees to germinate. I do have a seed warming mat, but it's only big enough for one tray. I'm not sure if I can time everything so I'm only starting one tray at a time. Seed warming mats are 30$, not sure if I have the resources to invest in a second one this year. Maybe I can work out something with a space heater on a timer...

Anyway, I was reading blogs today about others trying to lower their heating oil consumption and I ran across this posting that really spoke to me. It was written by an American who moved to Japan, where they routinely don't have heat in their houses.
I especially liked this paragraph:

There's another reason I appreciate this new experience, too. It is what the Japanese call "Gaman." It means "endure," or "tolerate" but there's more to it than that. It ascribes value to enduring something difficult. To Gaman is a principle, its a virtue. It's a cross between hanging in there and fighting the good fight.There are times when gaman is a pain. Sometimes enduring hardship as a virtue when the situation could just as easily be made more comfortable seems nuts. But as a cultural value, doing your best and enduring hardship is refreshing. I won't speak for other Americans, but my experience has often leaned too far the other way when it comes to putting up with difficulty without complaint.

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