Uh… it’s cold.

Well, here we are, in the thick of it, the bread-and-butter of winter.  The first two weeks of January are, on average, the coldest of the year around here, and this year is not disappointing.  We’ve had snow after snow, with a crappy ice storm mixed in (many co-workers were without power all through Christmas), and now we’ve been in the deep freezer for several days, with mornings around -5F.  This morning was the coldest yet, both inside and out– the kitchen was at 40.3F this morning.  Brrr!  That’s cold even by my standards.  It was probably even colder in the bedroom, but with the electric blanket on “low” it wasn’t noticeable.

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Trying to type on my aluminum laptop right now is not a pleasant finger experience.  The overall average living-area temp this season now stands at 56.4F.

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11 Responses to “Uh… it’s cold.”

  1. Olivia Says:

    And you are doing this . . . why?????

    As a Canadian who lives in the second coldest country in the world – I don’t get it. We don’t mind winter – enjoy it in fact – but we do try to keep our houses warm. Ours is basically heated by a wood cookstove. Power outages are not a problem when you can heat/cook/provide hot water with one wood stove appliance.

  2. Karen Says:

    We may have had a record kitchen temp. This morning was 33.6F. High for the day yesterday was 40F in the kitchen. Love my electric blanket at night!! A day at the movies was just what I needed today too!

  3. jane stein Says:

    Having gone through in VT the same unusual stretch of super-cold weather as you– and a couple days more to come this week– what impresses the heck out of me is the way the structure of the house itself gets cold after a few days, which makes it much, much harder to warm up the interior spaces again because the walls literally suck the heat out of the inside air.

    Although we’re now up to a reasonable 15 or so, my wood stove is beavering away and not making a whole lot of progress. And when its temperature starts to drop just a bit at the end of the burn cycle, man, the room temperature just drops like a stone, losing 10 degrees or more in 15 minutes or so. Wow!

    Looks like it’s going to take several days, at best, to re-warm the walls before the stove heat will go back to actually heating the room and not the walls themselves.

    I’ve been through a couple -20 overnights since I’ve lived here and been heating with wood, but those you can recover from pretty quickly if they’re a one-time deal in the middle of normal winter temps. But this extended stretch of cold is a whole ‘nother deal.

  4. pablitorun Says:

    Do you worry about your pipes at all. Just wondering as I am coming up on my first-20 night as a homeowner hear in Chicago.

  5. coldhousejournal Says:

    “Do you worry about your pipes at all.”
    No, not really. The primary reason is I know we don’t have any plumbing in outside walls. Which means, the pipes really can’t freeze unless the actually interior of the house is below freezing– which would be quite noticeable to me well before it was a problem. The only time I fret a bit is if we go away for a prolonged period in winter. Then, I might shut the water off altogether, and/or leave the taps dripping, and/or leave a little heat on.

    But if you have plumbing in exterior walls (or you don’t know whether you do) then more caution is in order.

    Here’s a long post from a while back about frozen pipes:

    http://coldhousejournal.com/2010/01/10/chilly-willy/

  6. jane stein Says:

    Yes, pablitorum, I always worry about it. But a single-day drop is no way as big a hazard as multiple days in a row around zero. If your house is old, odds are the previous owners rerouted vulnerable pipes. New houses most likely are well-insulated enough to prevent problems. But you never know for sure until it happens.

    What you can do about it? Really not much at this point. Electrical heat tape is good if you know which pipes are vulnerable. Running the tap, I gather, can cause more problems rather than less.

    One thing for sure– keep your basement boiler or furnace running full-time throughout the cold spell. Most pipes are most vulnerable in the basement/cellar, and the only heat they get is from that fuel burner.

  7. coldhousejournal Says:

    (P.S. If you’re really worried, for a night, and you’re not going to do the let-it-drip strategy, you could go find where the water comes into your house– probably the cellar– and close the main shut-off valve. You won’t have any water, and your pipes could still freeze– but at least you won’t have a massive flood if they do.)

  8. pablitorun Says:

    Thanks for the comments and links. I did what you did and just put a thermometer in the crawl space. Unfortunately mine wasn’t wireless so I had to walk down a few times to check, but it never got below 40. There seems to be a lot of latent heat in those thick concrete walls….

    • jane stein Says:

      Glad to hear you came through OK. But remember what I said above– that the biggest danger is when the temp has been down in the depths for many days in a row. Those concrete walls hold heat, but once they really chill, it also takes them a long time to warm up again.

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