Freeze Yerself

For all those followers asking, “How can I get in on all the fun of having a cold house, in a way that is full of good cheer and good company?”, I commend you to the “Freeze Yer Buns” challenge over at The Crunchy Chicken.  There you can review the “pledges” made by others as to when they’ll turn on their furnace, or how low they will set their thermostats, etc.  The C.C. also put up a recent post discussing how to acclimate to cooler indoor temperatures, a topic near and dear to us here.

At this house, as you know, we have no furnace and no thermostat, so our participation in the “FYB Challenge” is difficult to document.  But, we’re already a bit past the day when we first lit a fire last year (it’s been warm October in New England, which has been delightful.)  This morning, though, it was mid-30’s outside, and 57º inside.  I believe we have an agreement that the stove can be lit for the first time when the house temp falls to 56… but of course, this is subject to constant re-negotiation.   I don’t think we’re likely to re-achieve this winter our average indoor temperature of last winter (52º)– in part because we have a new housemate coming– but we’ll see.

Over the past two weeks, the (unheated) average temp in the kitchen has been 62º, and generally this has felt perfectly fine.

10 Responses to “Freeze Yerself”

  1. Patrick Says:

    We “pledged” to give it a shot. Our thermostat was set to 50 & 58 last winter, so instead of going lower, we’ll shorten the time we’re at 58 in the morning and evening. The cat is going to *hate* us.

  2. Renee Arnett (@ReneeArnett) Says:

    Perhaps a thermostatically controlled pet bed will allow the cat to hate you for a different reason? While still allowing your commendable chilliness to continue .

    • Patrick Says:

      Nahh. He doesn’t normally like to share the bed with us… maybe he’ll change his tune when the uninsulated floor is under 50 degrees.

  3. Jane Says:

    The more artificially warm you are, the lower your body’s internal furnace burns. The only way to keep it running on high is to slightly (just slightly!) underdress and never let yourself get overheated by hanging out close to a heat source for more than a minute or two, lovely as it can feel.

    I do a lot of winter birding, which typically involves driving around in a nice warm car dressed in warm sweaters, heavy coat, etc., stopping at a likely place, leaping out of the car into the winter cold and wind, and then standing there peering through binoculars or a spotting scope. Yikes! Talk about freezing your buns off in very short order. The body’s internal furnace is set on low because of the heat in the car and the heavy clothes, so when you get out into the cold, it’s banked way down and can’t respond quickly and you freeze.

    I learned that the trick for winter birding is to take the coat off when you get into the car, never turn the heater on and even keep the windows open a bit so you’re not so toasty warm in the car. Put the coat on only when you get out. The difference is absolutely amazing.

    I apply that tactic in acclimating to winter, especially for the long hours I have to spend in my home office, which is too far from the woodstove to get much warmth from it and north-facing to boot and which I therefore have to use an electricity-hogging space heater to keep tolerable.

    It takes some time, but I occasionally look up in mid-winter and see that the temperature in here is in the low 50s and I’m perfectly comfortable– even my fingers on the keyboard.

    I’m halfway there as of today. The thermometer reads 61 as I type and I’m fine, but just a couple weeks ago, I’d had to put the heater on when it got down that low.

    • Cold House Journal Says:

      ” long hours I have to spend in my home office, which is too far from the woodstove to get much warmth ”

      My office at home is similarly situated. One strategy I find immensely helpful is sitting on a heating pad. 80W or so of heating pad, directly applied, gives about the same sense of warmth as a 1000W space heater a few feet away.

      Now if only my laptop case could also be warm-hot without harming the internal electronics…

      • Jane Says:

        “My office at home is similarly situated. One strategy I find immensely helpful is sitting on a heating pad. 80W or so of heating pad, directly applied, gives about the same sense of warmth as a 1000W space heater a few feet away.”

        I will definitely give that a try. Thanks very much. I hadn’t thought of it. Funny thought that heating your bum could keep your fingers warm…

        By the way, another trick that works very well if you have a colder room off to the side of a warmer one is to put a small fan on the floor blowing the cold are into the warm room. That sets up a heat exchange and can make a big difference. Doesn’t work for this room for me most of the time because the office is off the non-stove and therefore in mid-winter quite cold end of the big front room.

      • Jane Says:

        I’ve been giving the heating pad a try, and it so absolutely works! I’ve been working all evening on the computer with a room temp between 59-61 and I’m totally comfortable with just a cotton sweater and a light flannel over-shirt, and I don’t even have the heating pad up halfway.

        I may not be able to get away with that once it gets really cold outside, but every penny I can avoid spending on heating is very, very welcome.

        Thanks very much.

      • Cold House Journal Says:

        Glad to hear the heating pad is a success! I have for some time been envisioning an entire “heated sofa”– but have not gotten around to constructing it (yet).

    • icerabbit Says:

      Just a quick comment re: winter driving and being warm; from someone who used to spend a lot of time driving and standing in the cold for hours … and possibly being the most cold tolerant person.

      Try to ensure your feet can stay comfortable. Prolonged cold feet will chill you very rapidly.

      I would drive with the vehicle cabin just comfortably warm enough to wear a long sleeve shirt, maybe a light sweater. Just enough heat going to the windshield and foot area. Then when you have to get out of the car, grab your winter coat etc and slip into warmer boots if possible/needed.

      Some people drive around in 4-5 layers of clothing on in the car and the heat on high, get too warm and of course can’t last 15-20 minutes standing outside when it freezes out.

      My problem of course with being extra cold tolerant is that I’m not very heat tolerant.

  4. Jane Says:

    Just for the record, I don’t live in a cold house (though not as cold as yours) for any reason other than financial. I heat my home primarily with wood, and since it’s incredibly cheap here in VT, I have no hesitation about burning it.

    I do try to keep the area around the stove (big open front room) as warm as I can, which means 70 or so most of the time during the day and somewhere in the 60s when it’s super-cold out.

    But because it’s a really small stove and I can’t afford a bigger one, the fire goes out overnight and the temperature sinks way low by morning. It’s beyond me to get up in the middle of the night to reload the stove competently, so I do have to supplement with the oil boiler in the basement in those overnight hours.

    I have the thermostat set to come on at 55, which is about the lowest temperature that allows me to function when I get up in the morning and restart the fire in the stove.

    My upstairs bedrooms have no heat and the stairway is blocked off with heavy blankets to keep the heat downstairs, so it’s probably somewhere in the 40s overnight in winter up there, which is fine with me.

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