It Burns Burns Burns, The Stove of Fire

We’re now a week past the date when we “fired down” last winter.  I can’t quite put my finger on why we haven’t done so this year yet, except to say that we had quite a cold snap a couple weeks ago, and since then it’s been mostly rainy, drizzly, and/or cloudy.  Sometimes, cold and dank feels even chillier than frigid and dry.

It is peculiar, though, that we seem, in March, less accepting of the same indoor temperatures that we tolerated in January.  You’d think (I’d think, anyway) that it would be the opposite.  I have three possible theories for why we need it even warmer indoors in March than in January:

1)  Just sick and tired of being in a cold house.  Perhaps there’s just a time limit.  Perhaps we really never adapt, we just get grouchier and grouchier and finally summer comes and saves us?

2)  Something about maintaining an ongoing indoor:outdoor differential to give an “impression of warmth”.  I.e, 50º inside may be fine when it’s 10º outside, because, wow, that’s a lot warmer.  But when it’s 50º outside, then 50º inside is… well, just like living outside, which may be unappealing.

3)  It might be somewhat unintentional.  We get used to stoking the fire to a certain degree, a certain number of sticks to achieve Xº of warming, etc.  Suddenly, we’re overshooting a bit.

Might be any of these.  Anyway, the difference is very subtle (see graphs in next post.)  Once the sun comes out for a few days in a row I think we may be done with heat until next year.

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9 Responses to “It Burns Burns Burns, The Stove of Fire”

  1. Dani Says:

    I agree with all of your reasons. The wind and damp with the comparison temp of indoor to outdoor, really affects us in Kentucky. I am freezing at 64 degrees inside the house, when in January it seemed fine. Also the gray rainy days can bring out the “bears.”

    Dani

  2. Johanna Says:

    3 doesn’t apply to me, but I’m having the exact same problem – I would think my old and drafty house would have to be heated to a lower indoor (in the middle of the house) temperature now that the differential is much smaller, but I find myself pushing the up button the thermostat. I do notice, though, that I am less bundled up for walking/biking to work, and wearing thinner layers even inside…
    I am getting grouchier and grouchier with what are by and large seasonal (or above seasonal) temperatures. I want winter to go away.

  3. Cold House Journal Says:

    ” I do notice, though, that I am less bundled up for walking/biking to work”

    Yes, same here. Unfortunately, getting less bundled up for outdoors does little to save heating fuel, or save the world. It is nice to be able to walk outside without armor, though.

  4. Jack Says:

    My spouse and I were having the same conversation yesterday. It’s averaging 49*F in the house while outdoors it’s peaking at mid-40’s, and we’re freezing. Two months ago I could sit for hours at this indoor temperature in just slippers and a robe and be content. I think 1 and 2 apply to us for sure; 3 not so much, since we’re not lucky enough in our rental to have fire capabilities. Heck, the house doesn’t even really have heat at all….

  5. hilllady Says:

    Never underestimate the grouch factor.

  6. Val Says:

    I have a theory…. we get a taste of a few warm sunny days and then it goes back to cold/wet/rainy. At this point we’ve had enough of winter and really need that renewal that spring brings.

  7. PablitoRun Says:

    It has to due with the increase in humidity. (IE 50 degrees inside is going to be much more humid when it is 50 outside versus 10 outside.)

    How cold you feel is really a measure of how much heat is leaving your body. This is why 60 degree water feels very cold but 60 degree air is not so bad. 60 degree water sucks heat much faster.

    Moist air allows heat to leave your body faster so a humid 50 is much colder feeling than a dry 50.

    • Cold House Journal Says:

      That’s a good and plausible theory, Pablito. I just did a quick check of all the past data. In late January, we were averaging around 35% humidity. Through February, averaging 39%. For the first half of March, we’ve averaged about 44%. That could be a real factor. In lieu of fire during this late season, J. has a few times set up the space heater for a couple hours (+/- 3kWh per use). Maybe instead what we should be doing is running the dehumidifier! Set at 40%, it would probably use about the same 3kWh in 24 horus… putting out the same amount of heat, but meanwhile also directly drying us out a bit! I’ll report back…

  8. Kirsten Says:

    Something might be said about the insulating properties of snow banked against the house.

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