How Cold is Too Cold?

I freely admit I am not a cold weather person. I mean, I love to ski and skate and enjoy snowy vistas, but when I'm lounging about the home my core body temperature tends to plummet. Cold temperatures for me bring shivering and malaise and general unhappiness. At the same time, though, I am keenly aware of resource consumption, both in terms of the environment (natural gas) and my wallet (cash). So you can imagine my dilemma upon waking up this morning:


That's the temperature both inside and outside my apartment this morning at 8am. Now, I have a lovely heavy down comforter that keeps me snug as a bug in my bed even at 49 degrees, but it's the getting out of bed that's turning into a problem...

I've searched and searched for some reference as to when I caved last year and turned on the heat, first in the form of an electric space heater (inefficient, causing my electric bill to skyrocket) and then in the form of my ridiculous apartment wall unit (which is also inefficient, though slightly less so, causing my gas bill to skyrocket). My apartment is so inexpertly constructed that you can feel a breeze when standing next to the sliding glass door, there is a gap under my front door big enough for a squirrel to run under, and my heater mainly functions to keep the ceiling toasty. I do employ some weatherizing strategies but this is a rental and I am not about to pour tons of money into something I don't own.
  • Last year I installed one of those vinyl door sweeps (I know, vinyl bad!) on the bottom of the door, but I placed it a tad too low and it dragged on the carpet every time I opened and closed it. By the end of the winter it had started to tear, so I pulled it off. I haven't replaced it yet and am currently shoving a rolled up towel in the space.
  • I also applied that plastic shrink wrap (I know, plastic bad!) on the vent for my stove (basically a hole in the wall, and not all that effective at venting) and the window in the spare bedroom last year. The stove vent is still shrinkwrapped from last winter, though the window is obviously not. The problem with this strategy is 3-fold. 1) it is really, really hard to apply that stuff yourself, and I am only one person; 2) plastic!; 3) the cats like to run along the window sills, especially Lily (who I did not have last winter). What am I supposed to do, deny the cats their windowsills?
  • Last winter I wore a lot of layers, on the ridiculous order of 5 or 6, plus hats, gloves, scarves, and what have you, indoors (until I turned the heat on, at which point I only wore 2 or 3 layers). I am not against wearing a sweater and fingerless gloves or wrist warmers, but this goes beyond excessive, besides which there aren't enough items of clothing in my apartment to keep me sufficiently warm without bundling up like the little brother in A Christmas Story. Not exactly classy.
  • Last year I weatherstripped the front door (which had none) and the side of the sliding glass door where it closes (which also had none). This is still in place. It does nothing to prevent the wind from coming through the other side of the slider.
I know my electric bill spiked in December, and then my gas bill spiked in January, but I don't have anything more specific than that. My readings are around the 10th, so the first weakening happened sometime between Nov. 11 and Dec. 10 (probably sometime around the middle of the billing cycle) and then again (with the gas) sometime after Dec 10th. Since my gas bill was ├╝ber-low in December I rather suspect I didn't actually turn on the gas until just about the 10th of Dec. I am not messing with the space heaters this year, except in the bathroom (otherwise I would really never get out of bed in the morning) but I don't think I can hold out that long. I plan to get a new door sweep and shrink wrap the vent in my bathroom (basically a hole in my ceiling on par with the vent in the kitchen), which is at present un-wrapped. Short of sealing the entire house in plastic, does anyone have any ideas? I'm cold right now, and no amount of knitting is going to help...

(PS I just started in on the second skein of wool for the gray scarf - my family was here for over a week, so needless to say not a whole lot of knitting happened.)


At 5:38 PM, Blogger southern gal said...

i got a programmable thermostat installed in Jan and set it at 50. i found some great all wool blankets on Overstock/Smart Bargains and cut them to fit the doors between the den and kitchen and the den and the hallway to the rest of the apt. the apt is a railroad with baseboard heater and VERY OLD drafty windows. They are have very old drafty storm windows (well some of them) and the ones along the long outside SOUTH facing wall i have covered with heavy insulated shades then blackout/insulated curtains and then heavy velvet curtains - which really helps keep most of the wind and cold from coming in . I also use that putty weatherstripping and put it around the windows and put old towels along the space in the doublehung windows.

There are wool curtains on all interior doors - the kitchen/den, the den/hallway and the door to my little study (its between bookcases). The very front door (right NEXT to the main front door of the building) has another wool curtain as well as blackout material. The curtain is hung above the door with rings so it can be slipped to the side to open.

The front room has two windows one without a storm window. Those windows face west to the RIVER and get lots of wind blown at them. They have heavy damask curtains with blackout/insulated material as liners. And insulated shades. They pretty much stay drawn the entire winter. This year I may put a piece of wood on the window with out the storm window - i have asked for a new one for three years - and this may get the point across.

I have two portable heaters - lasko - with adjustable settings - auto etc. One in the music room (the front room) and one in the den - which is the second to last room in the railroad configuration. you would not believe how warm it can get in here with the wool curtains drawn across the doors and the heater on - it helps that the rooms are 12 ft square with only 10ft ceilings. Last winter i bought wool ls tops and wool long john pants - i wear those under sweatpants and top the wool top with wool sweaters i pick up at rumble/garage sales etc. in fact just yesterday i got 6 ALL WOOL mens ls sweaters for 4 dollars a piece!

i have put my thermostat to 45 at night and 50 day this winter - the goal is to not run the expensive baseboard heating system at all...
elec is cheaper and i use it as little as possible - again it doesnt take a lot to heat up a small space.

at least you are in california - we had a cold blast this week of 40/20 which will break a little this week but the winter is drawing nigh... but you remember!

good luck... remember LAYERs and close off those spaces!

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Opal said...

oh dood! i'd so have the heater on! but then you know where i'm from. i got no stamina. :))


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