Predictably, the recent local TV news story about the Cold House—  in spite of being only about 70 seconds long– unleashed a string of vitriolic commentary.  I will take a moment to respond to them:

“I am not impressed. If you are eco-friendly you would probably not use electric to heat your home with space heaters or electric blankets. Don’t these people know that it requires fuel to produce electric? Why not invest in a wood burning stove, they heat an entire home and it is efficient.”

Thanks for the tips.  Now finally I know where electricity comes from!  Before I thought maybe it was the Electricity Fairy.  Seriously, though, possibly you are ignorant of the fact that close to half of Maine’s electricity comes from wood, wood waste, and hydro (according to the Department of Energy).  And you seem to completely miss the point that using a space heater or electric blanket here and there is vastly more efficient than keeping every corner of your house hot with a furnace.  As far as a wood stove– yes, we’re putting one in.  However, even the very small stove we’re installing needs to burn at a minimum rate of at least 20,000 BTU/hour  or so in order to keep itself efficient and keep the chimney clean.  That’s about four times the heat output of the space heater we’ve been using in the living area.  In other words, it’s more heat than we’ve needed, so far.

“I am not impressed either….they still use electricity which comsumes resources, sometimes even more than gas heating….really people, get over yourself!”

So sorry you are not impressed either.  Please rest assured that we are over ourself (?).  As far as your suggestion that electricity “sometimes” uses more resources than a gas furnace, I agree.  It would, if we were using electric heaters the way people use gas furnaces: to keep their whole house at 68º, or even to keep various “zones” in a range from 56º to 68º.  If people could (and then did) use gas heat to heat one room at a time as needed, and keep those rooms well below “normal” temps, then yes, it would be better than electric.  But most heating systems don’t allow that level of control, and most people wouldn’t do it anyway.

“Doesn’t using additional electricity for space heaters and electric blankets defeat their blow hardy purpose? Give me a break! They haven’t given up anything. Congrats on your 15 minutes… clearly that was all you were after. haha Can’t even believe this made news.”

Look buddy.  The electric blanket puts out 614 BTU/hr for the 30 minutes we have it on “high” nightly, then 150 BTU/hr for the rest of the night on “low”.  Compare this to the recommended-sized furnace for our house, which is 88,000 BTU/hr, and you will get a sense of how silly you are being.  As for “haven’t given up anything”, compared to most people (you?) we have given up about 25º in our bedroom when we wake up in the morning, and about 14º around the house most of the day.  It’s not nothing.  As for fame: I’ll take it.  But we didn’t call the TV people– they called us.

“we’ll probably read in the paper that the house has burned down next…so many nuts around ….obviosuly the squirrels didn’t gather them all this fall.”

Wow.  Thanks for the comment.  Remind me not to invite you over when you run out of oil.

“keep useing those will be back in the news (FIRE DESTORIES FALMOUTH HOME)”

Nice.  Merry Christmas to you too, friend.  BTW, we give free spelling lessons here on Thursday evenings if you care to drop by.  But destorying the house isn’t a bad idea– we could probably get by with just one floor.  I’ll take it under advisement.


10 Responses to “Comments”

  1. brushfire Says:

    What is with these people? There are lots of rational arguments and discussions that can be engendered by your cold house experiments. But these sorts of comments have nothing rational about them.

    When in doubt call names and belittle, I guess.

  2. Val Says:

    You are our Hero’s! I guess we must be just as crazy as the two of you and I’m proud of it! We have a 1812 house and are using you as a inspiration. Currently the house has no heat and has been winterized, we need to figure out how to keep the pipes from freezing in the future and stay warm enough to survive. If they did it in 1812 we should be able to figure it out…oh, I think they where smart enough not to have indoor plumbing.

  3. Commentary « Cold House Journal Says:

    […] By coldhousejournal There are still comments trickling in on the TV news website from our 15 seconds of confused quasi-fame.  J. forwarded this excerpt from one to me […]

  4. BrandedRhapsody Says:

    I admire the idea of living through the winter without having to use any more heat than is strictly necessary. I myself live in Tennessee. I am on a very fixed income and finding ways to save an extra penny are always welcome. I wish you well and hope that you are successful in your efforts and find that this can and will be a beginning of a new way of living. With the shape our country is in and with the economy on the down turn any way to survive and succeed is an A-PLUS in my book.

  5. frank lee Says:

    Whoa- there are others that do this? I’ve been a cold house practitioner for years. Nothing exotic- it’s a typical Midwestern 50 year old stick house that does have upgraded ceiling insulation and gas furnace, but nothing else. The thermostat goes down to 45 and that’s generally where it stays, mainly for the sake of the plumbing. The drip method of freeze protection is thus not needed. I practice what I call “extreme zone heating” where the 5 foot radius around me is about all that gets heat input above the 45 degree baseline. Check this- I have a few of those yellow halogen worklamps with the glass removed and screening in it’s place. One is at my feet in the computer/tv room; the other in the bathroom. Those lamps throw very nice heat and on top of that the “regular” room lighting can stay off! Other tools include flannel insulated jeans (love ’em!) and flannel sheets. With a heavy sleeping bag opened up as a quilt, there is no need for an electric blanket! My utility bills are but a fraction of what they were 20 years ago- before I got smart.

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      Once again, someone more intense than us! Thanks for sharing your strategies. I love the “extreme zone heating”! We do the same to a lesser degree.

      P.S. Be careful using those halogen lamps without the glass– they emit some UV radiation that way. At least don’t stare into them if you aren’t wearing glasses! (Sorry, don’t mean to sound like your mom.)

  6. frank lee Says:

    Oh yeah, the lamps “aren’t for indoor use”- bah. Several years now and zero incidents is safe enough for me. Sometimes I find that I have to move the lamp a little further away- can make a too-warm hot spot on my leg! My household use averages 115 kwh/month- that’s with a fairly “regular” household! Another strategy that I’ve found useful is the proper use of the bathroom vent fan. I know the cfm rating of it and after figuring the size of the room determined that the fan is capable of completely exhanging ALL the air in the room in under two minutes! Excess humidity is no good either; the windows throughout the house frost up noticeably more when the fan doesn’t get used and interior humidity is too high. Anyway~ fan stays off during shower operations and gets flipped on for 1-2 minutes right after, and that’s it. Most of the humidity goes out, most of the heat stays in.

  7. frank lee Says:

    I should add that towards the end of winter (which is very long here) I sometimes feel the need to reward my frugality by bumping up the heat a bit. The key thing I monitor is what I call “temperature spread”- the difference between indoor and outdoor temps. If it’s -20 out I won’t bump the temp, as nature likes equilibrium and the heat rushes out the walls faster. However if it’s +20-30 or so out I can bump the heat a skosh and the furnace doesn’t have to work very hard to accomplish and maintain the temp rise. So at, say, -40 to +10 out, it’s 45 in; above +10 out and I’ll dial in a few more degrees accordingly. Once it gets to- oh, 40 or so outside, the furnace gets shut off altogether as my house does pick up some passive solar.

  8. sarah j Says:

    Sorry for the mundane question. How are you keeping your pipes from freezing?

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      “How are you keeping your pipes from freezing?”

      1) You’d be surprised how difficult it is to get the inside of an average house down to 32ºF. I would guess that unless it’s below 20º outside, given normal amounts of sunshine, daily appliance activity, moderate efforts at heat reclamation, etc., our house will stay perpetually above 32 with NO intentionally-added heat.
      2) We don’t have any plumbing in exterior walls, or garages, or attics, or other weird isolated places– this is critical. We have some pipes in a part of the house that we’ve sealed off and aren’t heating for the winter– those I’ve drained completely.
      3) We do use some heat. We are normal people. To be honest, once it’s below 45º or so in here (+ or -, depending which of us is home, and whether we have company, etc.), a fire gets lit in the wood stove.
      4) See longwinded discussion about pipes here.

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