Many people (well, like seven) ask me, “Why aren’t you posting to Cold House anymore? Is it because you died of exposure?” Well, no, we’re fine here. To tell you the truth, there just isn’t that much to report, because (a) we had a record-warm December, (b) we had our second-latest-ever first snowfall, and mainly (c) there’s that central heating thing now…
But you might be curious– how HAS that central heating thing affected the Cold House lifestyle? Well, I have to admit, it is nice to come downstairs in the morning and find that the kitchen is 56º instead of, say, 46º. And it’s also nice to come home to a similar temperature at the end of the work day, instead of waiting an hour for the wood stove to get in gear. But, we’re still using the wood. In fact, the two systems are living in reasonably good harmony. The main zone thermostat is about 8 feet from the wood stove, so as soon as it’s putting out any heat, the gas boiler knows to shut down, and the wood takes over. And we’re still using other conservation strategies learned during the Cold Years, such as keeping the spare rooms closed off and generally unheated (the guest room is on a separate zone, set to 40º, and the office radiator is turned off.)
So what are the numbers? So far this winter (since October 31, when I turned on the datalogger) the living room / kitchen area has averaged 56.9ºF. That’s only 2.5º warmer than this time last year, which is a smaller increase than I’d have predicted. Much credit is due to the other resident of the house for her restraint with the thermostat! (Not that there haven’t been a few tussles!) Standard deviation = 4.5º. The lowest temp so far was 46.7º. The high was 68.8º. Here’s the temperature graph so far:
In terms of fuel usage… we’ve burned 5,900 cu. ft. of natural gas. Which sounds like a lot (I’m picturing a rather large swimming pool), but amounts to only about $100 worth (not counting the $20 monthly “utility fee” from the gas company.) And of course we’ve used some wood, but it’s harder to gauge– maybe half a cord, maybe less. But unlike past winters, we’ve had absolutely no electric space heater use, so that’s helping keep the electric use down.
Speaking of which, the solar panels are still cooking along. I’ve been pleased that they seem to clear themselves of snow pretty quickly, just one or two sunny days after a storm. Overall they’re producing a bit more than I expected, and we’ve been using less than in past years– so there’s a slight chance we might come out at net-zero for electric use for the year. But won’t know that until we get to their one-year anniversary in mid-April. Stay tuned!
Stay warm, wherever you are! (Especially in Slovakia!)