Archive for the ‘Hard data’ Category

Heatless Mid-week

January 11, 2013

A combination of factors came together this week, leading me to use no heat whatsoever for a span of 4 days– an unusual mid-January state even in this house.  The factors were:

– Above-average temps (highs 35-40F, lows 20-25)

– Above-average sunshine

– Above-average laziness on starting a fire

– Above-average use of bike trainer (warms you up fast, even in a cold house!)

So, no fire from Sunday night to Thursday night:Untitled

Ran into a couple of problems, after having the house this cool for this long.  For one, the liquid dish soap solidified and became impossible to get out of the bottle.  It is an all-natural product… mainstream dish soap brands probably have chemical emulsifliquifactifying agents that prevent this.  Maybe I have to store it on top of the water heater or something.

Second, the contents of the freezer (above the fridge) started to thaw.  This is ironic, the idea that your house can be too cold for your freezer to work, but in our cheapo fridge I’m pretty sure the freezer only turns on when/if the fridge turns on– it has no separate temperature controller.  So if the house is cold, the fridge barely runs, and after a few days, the freezer starts to nudge above freezing.  Obviously this isn’t good.  I turned the fridge down a little (it was set rather on the warm side) and that seems to have cured the problem.

Overall average temperature so far this winter now stands at 52.5 F…


November 19, 2012

From time to time I come across a story about a person worthy of being nominated as a “hero of the cold house”.   Today’s hero, or rather heroine, is Kerry Kells–  who apparently found her Antarctic research station dorm uncomfortable, and instead spent 200-plus nights sleeping in a tent (in, yes, Antarctica).  (The story is from last spring– not sure why it just came across my radar today… perhaps she is back in her tent this season?)

Meanwhile here at the luxury cold house (with solid walls) a “seasonably cool” autumn is creeping along.  I cranked up the ol’ datalogger two weeks ago to start this season’s indoor recording– thus far the average in the living area has been 55F/12.8C.   As usual, I listen to the annual rush of stories about heating oil prices and chuckle to myself.

End of Heat

March 18, 2012

Pretty sure we’re done with heat for the season.  We’ve only had two small fires in the past week, and the forecast for the next week has highs edging up towards 70°.  So, here are the wrap-up statistics for the winter, October 20 to March 17.  (Note: the temperatures are for the “warm part” of the house– kitchen & living room.  The upstairs / bedroom were colder…)

Wood burned:  +/- 1.25 cord.  Commercial value:  +/- $250.  Actual cost: $0, but substantial labor.

Overall average living area temperature:  56.55°

Highest/lowest instantaneous temps recorded:  69.3°/42.0°

Highest/lowest 24-hour average temps:  62.0°/45.0°

Hours spent above/below 62°:  562 / 2,875

And here is a chart showing how many hours of the whole winter were spent at each 1°F temperature increment:

Happy springtime!

Pretty Graphs

February 3, 2012

Just because I haven’t been posting doesn’t mean the datalogger hasn’t been logging.  And I’ve finally gotten around to crunching some data for this winter, and making some graphs.  Here’s the text version:  Since the first fire (October 26), the overall average temperature in the kitchen/livingroom has been 57.7 °F.  But this has been drifting downwards:  over the past week, the average has been 52.6.  The warmest average day was 11/29, at 62° (steaming!), and the coldest was the day before yesterday, at 44.9.

Here’s the “raw data” graph, showing the temp every 15 minutes from late October to now:

And here is the cumulative average temperature, noted each day (I didn’t start recording this until late November, but it’s reflecting the temps back to October):

Finally, this shows each day’s 24-hour average temp (red), as well as the cumulative average (blue):

Keep in mind, this is the warm part of the house.  The bedroom, bathroom, weird creepy space under the cellar stairs, etc. are all chillier.  But, still, not as chilly as last year– we have not, for instance, had any mornings in the 30’s in the bedroom yet.  It really just hasn’t been that cold of a winter, and it doesn’t look like it is going to turn into one.

Post-game Wrap-Up

April 13, 2011

So, this post contains the last graphs of the season.  It will probably also be the last post until next season.  It may in fact be the last post, period.  After three winters of this experiment, I’m ready to call it a success– and keep living it, but not necessarily keep writing about it.  We shall see.

But for now, I offer the analysis of 45,192 bits of data: that’s a little over 5 months of temperature measurements, taken every 4 minutes.  [Alas, and disclaimer: 4 days of data from early December were inadvertently deleted.  I know, I’m aghast too.  But I don’t think it skewed things much.]

First, numbers.  Our average (mean) living room / kitchen temperature for the entire winter was 53.4ºF.  And, delightfully, the median temperature was exactly the same.  And, the mid-point between our highest temp (72.9º) and lowest temp (36.3º) was also almost exactly the same (54.6º).  The standard deviation from the mean temp was 5.8º, meaning we spent about 2/3 of our time between roughly 48º and 60º.

For the visually-minded, here is a distribution curve showing how many hours we spent at each 2º interval in the range:

Overall it’s a nice, near-normal distribution.  I’m hard pressed to explain the divot right in the middle, around 54º.  The little shoulder on the right side, around 63º, should probably be labelled “we had guests”.

And here is a plot of the weekly average temperatures over the course of the winter.  There wasn’t really much of a pattern.

So, that’s it.  Enjoy the summer.  Thanks for reading.

Heating Season Over

April 11, 2011

Yes, I think it’s safe to say we’re done with heat.  We’ve had two fires in the past two weeks– the last one was on April 2nd (when there were guests here).  None since.  Not that it’s been super-warm in here– the past week we averaged under 52º.  But with outside temps finally starting to approximate seasonal norms, things have been better, and I think the mercury is all upwards from here.  The graph for the past two weeks, including the average daily outdoors temp:

I went out and inspected the pile of wood from the tree we felled this time last year.  It looks lovely– nice silvery patina, light in the hand, full of cracks and check marks.  It’ll be ready for next winter.

Stay tuned for a season wrap-up.

P.S. Still chill

April 2, 2011

I guess it really was unrealistic of me to think that last year’s heat-end date could be replicated every year– without checking to see if last March was unusually warm… which it was.  I’ve expanded the last moving-average-of-daily-averages graph from the last post a bit, both forwards and back, to show the whole month of March.  Overall, last March was 6.9º warmer than this March!

Also I added in a green line for the historical average daily average. Overall, this March has been only 0.3º colder than usual.  But, as you can see, the past week and a half it’s been consistently quite a bit chillier.

Which explains why we managed to have a #&#%ing blizzard yesterday.  We were down to about 10% snow cover, but now we’re back to 100%!  I had hopes it would all melt today, but I don’t think today’s predicted high temp of 37º (11º below average!) is going to do the job.  By the time this snow is gone, I think the fires will be too.  We’ve had only one in the past week or so.

Not Wusses!

March 30, 2011

I’d been feeling that we are a little wussy this year, compared to last, since last year we stopped having fires on March 7th, while this year we haven’t yet declared fire-season over.  (Though, in our defense, I don’t think we’ve had a fire in three or four days… have lost track.)

Anyway, astute and gentle reader J.W. suggested that possibly it wasn’t just a matter of wussiness– possibly it has actually been colder this March than last.  It didn’t take long to confirm that this hypothesis is true.  In fact, for the period of March 7 – 29, it was (on average) 5.5ºF warmer last year than this year!  That’s a lot, in our house.  An indoor difference between 49.5º and 55º can definitely be the difference between fire and no fire.

Here, too, is a visual representation of the outdoor temps.  The faint lines are actual daily averages– the heavy lines are 3-day moving averages of those, to smooth it out a little.  You can see how much colder it’s been this year…

Weekly Update

March 28, 2011

Here’s the close-up graph of the living room temps over the past two weeks (March 14-27):

And here is the same, along with daily outdoor average temps, and trend lines for each:

As you can see, we had a brief shot of spring-like temps here, followed by a cool-off (which included some more snow).  Overall, in fact, the temperature trend the past two weeks has been downwards– both indoors and out.  This (or something) has resulted in “fire season” continuing here, so far about three weeks longer than last year.  Not sure when it will come to an official end.

I’m not sure how long to keep logging the temperature.  I could stop when we stop using the wood stove, but that isn’t really the end of “heating season”– most people will be running their furnaces far into April, if not May, so we’ll still be well below “normal” temps in here.


March 15, 2011

And now, the graphs of the past two weeks.  First, the indoor temps, showing the average for each week.  Can you guess which night J. went away and left me to my own chilly devices?

Now for the comparison to average daily outside temperatures, with two week trendlines.  As in the last graphs, you can see that it’s warming up both inside and outside… but again, it’s warming faster outside (about 1.2º per day!) then inside (about 0.6º per day.)  So that’s still reassuring.