No-Heat Challenges

There was an informative article a few weeks back in the New Jersey Star-Ledger about “no-heat” challenges, in which packs of loonies band together in an attempt to outlast each other before flipping on the furnace in the autumn (or winter, as the case may be.) I will nominate the various people who organize such challenges as Heroes of Cold House Journal– they include Fern over at Wild Blue Yonder, Deanna at Crunchy Chicken, and probably many others. I’m pretty sure that I lack the charisma to actually attract/motivate/brainwash hordes of others into joining in on my experiment (I did try– made a Facebook page last year for the purpose– a dozen or more friends “joined”, but most openly confessed they were only following along to mock me.) Anyway, I’m glad there are people out there who are actually organizing others to try living less-hot.

I was interested (and a bit amused) to read in the article that Fern, even while organizing a Challenge, had herself “dropped out in mid-October.” The article reported that “She and her two cats were just too cold in their Connecticut house.” Fern was quoted as saying “My indoor temperature was about 56, and that was as cold as I could get… You’re only human.” Amusing only because early-to-mid-October is when average (normal, non-no-heat-challenge-participating) people around here (Maine) seem to start turning their heat on. This furthers my evolving belief that what you tolerate as “comfortable” temperature-wise has a lot to do with your expectations, what you see going on around you, and what you’re accustomed to. I have absolutely no doubt that 56º feels colder in Connecticut than it does in Maine, and colder still in Maryland.

Also, along the same lines, after a week or two of dank, rainy, 50ish degree weather here, we finally returned to seasonally normal weather. Now there’s snow on the ground and it’s a crisp 24º outside. And I can report that 52º inside definitely feels warmer this week than it did last week– I think because, in comparison to outside, it is.


6 Responses to “No-Heat Challenges”

  1. Johanna Says:

    You lack prizes. If you made a plexiglass trophy shaped like an icicle, there might be some incentive.Also, I think it is cheating to call yourself heat free and use space heaters and fireplaces. It is furnace-free, and whoopeee, in that case, I have a full 18 years of furnace free living to take credit for. My dad is at 75 and counting. A much better metric would be a degree-hour – for every hour and degree that your ambient is below 20C, one degree hour point is credited. No credit if you are out of the house in a heated office/car. I know, you would still win by this metric, but this whole "we don't heat, but we have a space heater and a wood stove" is called "normal" by the standards I grew up with. And I am happy to have left them behind. I *like* pushing a button and not seeing my breath.

  2. Heather Says:

    You did better than just recruit strangers via a website. You sneakily recruited your "roommate" to put up with your insanity and she willingly followed you to a second cold house. You clearly have powers that would be frightening if unleashed on the general population.

  3. Jan Chastain Says:

    Until I caught the TV tonight I didn’t know anyone out there was as bloody singleminded as I am. I am a 71 year old widown. Four years ago in November I decided to turn the heat off in my Sierra Nevada condo, at 4500 ft ASL. Cappucino cocoa mix kept me alive so I know how you loved that hot tea. Also I had a down sleeping bag, and get this: a mink lined leather jacket. spent a lot of time in my bed under those items, while I edited my public access television show, using a long mouse connection. On bad days I took 2 hot showers. Cold hands was a problem with me. Here’s something to tell older folks. It is empowering to turn off the heat, just for one winter. However don’t advertise it or you will have social services calling on you. Seriously. they are very intrusive in the lives of senior citizens. Fantasticly empowering, just as it was when I gave away my vehicle and switched to a bicycle and public transportation. Proud to meet you. Jan Chastain

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      Oh. My. God. Jan, please come visit– we must meet you.

      And you don’t have to be a senior citizen to get people worried about you when you try this. Last year our oil supplier called to check on us— he’d noticed that our oil consumption had decreased by nearly 50%, was afraid our furnace was broken, and wanted to know if we were okay.

      • Jan Chastain Says:

        Hi, COLDHOUSE JOURNAL. Sorry I didn’t catch your note to reply until today. Remember that winter spent with no heat with pride. Grew up in Florida where houses were uninsulated and heat from fireplace or inefficient oil heaters–none of which reach back rooms. Remember dressing on stairwell landings where heat would accumulate. All us little ones hunched over together, with Moms’ hovering, trying to slip our shivering little limbs into clothes.

  4. John Solso Says:

    Learned about your experiment via ABC today. Bravo!

    Living in an adobe house in Tucson we’re not in your league but live comfortably with no furnace heat. Indoor temperatures are regularly 60-65 degrees F. We use a low-energy hot tub to warm the body before sleeping.

    It is in the winter that we save more electricity by not using airconditioner. While outdoor temps are around 105 degrees we have 85-90 inside. Difficult, but bearable, when humidity rises in August.

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