The Cold House Project is, technically, coming to an end soon. My new housemate has arrived. She is not thrilled with the whole experiment. To be fair, it’s hard to expect anyone would be, unless they were in on it from the start and had the benefit of gradually becoming accustomed to both the cool temperatures and the various little habits of heat maintenance that have, for me, become routine.
She’s an open-minded and environmentally-aware person, and has been a good sport about trying it out for a few days, which is more than most people would do. I’m grateful. But, she’d really like to turn on the heat soon. So, we agreed that it will happen January 1st. That gives me a few days to start adjusting back…
I have to say, though, I’d really rather not. The first couple weeks of this, back in the fall, were a bit challenging– but now I am very happy and comfortable. People find this hard to believe; most everyone assumes I am cold, suffering, and undergoing some sort of ascetic/self-flagellatory experience. Not so. The point was not masochism; it was to find out if there is some mental or physical mechanism that kicks in to make cold temperatures feel comfortable. Answer: there definitely is.
People’s reactions to this experiment have been remarkable. Just hearing about it seems to make others uneasy. I’ve been called un-American, unethical, unbalanced, and even potentially criminal. People have told me that I will get pneumonia, that my cat will perish, that my house will be damaged, and that other dreadful things will befall me. The peer pressure to turn on the heat has been enormous. It’s got me thinking about heat-dependency as a sort of addiction around here. Maybe another post on that later.
But here’s a graphic depiction of how far the experiment has gone. The red and blue lines are Portland’s average high and low temps over the course of an average year. Arrow “A” shows roughly where I, and most others around here, tend to flip on the heat in the fall– sometime in October, around the first good frost. Arrow “B” shows where (barring a miraculous conversion on my housemate’s part) I will turn on the heat this winter.
As you can see, at this point we’re only a couple weeks, and a couple degrees, away from the annual temperature nadir. It would be easy, at this point, to push on through to the warming-up side of the graph. The experiment has to end for social reasons, but not for any other. I’m convinced that a whole winter without the furnace would be completely feasible and, even, enjoyable.
I’ll continue posts about things as they come to me. And I’ll be thinking about next year. And there still won’t be any heat in my bedroom, regardless.