Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


January 29, 2013

Just a tad bit chilly in here this morning– even though it isn’t all that cold outside (21F).  Ironically, it’s sometimes warmer in the house when it’s colder outside, because I fear it will get too cold inside… and light the fire.  Will make one tonight, I

Deep Freeze

January 24, 2013

Yes, it’s really winter.  We’ve been down below 0(F) the past couple nights, with the days not quite getting to double-digit temps.  The house was 41 this morning… needless to say the wood stove is burning a bit more than usual.  Still, it’s considerably warmer here than up in Quebec (where we were a few weeks ago) or central Vermont (where I’m heading tomorrow.)  And it’s much, much warmer here, than, say, this town in Siberia.  Those people are seriously tough.  

Average kitchen temperature for the winter still hovers at about 52.6F.

Ideal for Some Things

January 21, 2013

I really like that I can pull a can of Diet Coke off the bottom self in the kitchen, and (unless we’ve really been running the wood stove) it’s already nicely chilled.  And I really like that the living room at 47F is a perfect temperature for riding on the bike trainer when I get home, without getting drenched in sweat.  But I will confess that even I find it annoying to have to warm up red wine for dinner.

January 11, 2013

It’s kind of funny when you’re unpacking bags of groceries from the market, at the cans feel warm to the touch.

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2012

Happy New Year from the Cold House!

We’re just back from a few days playing touriste in Quebec City– a place that really knows how to enjoy winter.  No one up there was griping about the cold– they just put on bigger hats, string up more lights, put on a smile, and go out to ski, toboggan, drink…  It was also pleasant driving around in a place where snow tires are mandatory, and the proportion of SUVs on the road was dramatically  lower.  I think we got out of there just in time, though, as the forecast low for tomorrow night is -17F (-27F).  That’s cold even to me.

Back on the home front, our living area has averaged 52.8° F so far this winter.  As the graph clearly communicates, the temp in here is rarely steady, either from hour to hour, or day to day.  Hard to say how much wood we’ve gone through so far– maybe 1/5th to 1/4 cord.  We haven’t started on the actual split wood from Treemagedon yet, still just burning the cut-up branches and other little stuff.


On Water Heaters

November 27, 2012

So if you go to buy a new, standard, tank-type water heater, you discover that for any given gallon capacity they come in several different tank shapes, called “short”, “medium”, and “tall”.  It seems the “tall” are marketed for use in narrow spaces, the “short” for use in low spaces (like a crawlspace), and the “medium” for, well, everything else.

The interesting thing, though, is that from an efficiency (passive heat-loss minimization) standpoint, there is an ideal cylinder shape– namely, the one with the smallest ratio of surface area to volume, which is when the diameter is the same as the height.  From this standpoint, the shorty models are almost perfect, but the mediums are too twice too tall, and the “talls” are even worse.  Based on this, it would be rational to buy a short one– except that, for some reason, the shorts and talls are both much more expensive than a medium (like, $50-100 more)!  This makes no sense from a materials perspective, since the shorts use less steel/glass/insulation than a medium, and a medium less than a tall.  So I suppose it must have to do with demand, volume of production, and manufacturing efficiency.



November 27, 2012

It looks like we’re going to have a different heat (or lack-of-heat) pattern this winter, compared to the past few, because J. is now away from the house during the week and home only (mostly) on weekends.  So, there may be a bit more polarization– namely, less heat than usual when I’m home alone, and more heat than usual on the weekends.  

So far, though, we’re averaging 54.6F (since November 5th), which is a smidge lower than last winter’s overall average of 56.5.  This morning is the coolest one yet in the kitchen, at 45F.  That’s about as low as even I enjoy– will probably have a bit o’ flame of the wood stove tonight.

Seeking advice

November 11, 2012

Reader Becky sent me the following message, which she said I could post here in the hopes of getting advice from other CHJ followers.  (I’ve already sent her my own thoughts– including that 60F is probably pushing the envelope in her situation– but she’s happy to have more advice!) (P.S.  Being pregnant in El Paso in the summer without A/C sounds, to me, fairly literally, like hell.)


I saw your blog and I think you might be able to help me. For a number of reasons I try to keep heating and cooling my house to a minimum. I grew up in Texas so I am accustom to warmer climates. I spent the past summer in El Paso Texas, without central air and I was pregnant. It was HOT. My house temperature was in the nineties. I would often sit in my house drinking ice water, wearing minimal clothing and sweat would pour down me despite not actually doing any activity. On the worst days, I soaked down in the shower, clothes and all and walked around the house wet.
Then in September we moved to Maryland. I am cold and it’s not even winter. First, how do I adjust my body temperature to cope with the cold? How long did it take you to adjust? I feel like I am going to freeze if I turn the heat below 67. I think it would be unreasonable to go without heat for the winter, since I have a baby, but I would like to keep the thermostat no higher than 60. Secondly, what do I need to stay warm? I don’t really own any winter gear such as a coat, vest or proper shoes. I have very little experience buying any of these things and they are pretty expensive. What is worth buying? Is there a big difference in brands? I noticed a number of people wearing north face jackets, but when I priced the coats they cost $250. It seems crazy to me to spend that much money on one article of clothing but I would rather spend more money on something that will actually keep me warm.
Please help me,


November 6, 2012

Finally, some comfortable, invigorating indoor temps!


Familial Trait

September 11, 2012

I thought you might enjoy these photos of my granddad with his wood pile, circa 1980, and me, with my wood pile, circa last weekend.  All the wood in both photos was split by hand, with a maul.  That’s how we do it.