Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Winter Thus Far

First let me say this is not a picture of me, my cat or my swood burning stove. I do have a huge old iron wood burning stove. And mornings are likely to find me stoking up the remaining embers to take the chill off the room. And it is also highly likely that my cats will be close. So will the dogs. On chilly mornings and evenings the whole fur kid population and me are likely to be close to my formed iron stove.

Last winter's electric bill for heating my modest home, coupled with the increased attention to global warming has made me look long and hard at our habits in winter. Why, for instance, do people want to warm their entire house to hotter than then cool it off to in the summer? And central heat is so wasteful. I remember when my father installed central heat in our house on Bellamah Avenue. There were no longer those radiators we could stand in front of to get dressed on chilly mornings. And there was this constant breeze blowing through vents.

My current abode has baseboard electric heat controlled room by room. So rooms I am not in do not have to be heated. And instead of cranking up the heat to reach 72 plus (I have a neighbor that has to have her house winters at 76) I put on a hoodie and throw an afghan over my lap. I find anything above 67 stiffling of my energy. The studio with all its windows facing the south and east frequently warms up above that. And I will turn on the ceiling fan in the livingroom to suck some of the heat into that part of the house.

Winter days when the sun doesn't come out are probably my biggest challenge. That is often when I will alter my activities to stay where it is warmest. It is why the pioneers used to mend harnesses in the room with the potbellied stove in the winter. Or everyone would drop in at the old country store to chat and warm up around the old stove there. We didn't heat what we weren't using. That neighbor who likes her house 76 heats every single inch of it.

I figure I have two months of real "winter" to make it through. And like this week I will from time to time use a little space heater for just that space I am in. Or dry my clothes in the drier as opposed to hang them out on the line to "freeze" dry. And there is the underhouse heat to keep pipes from freezing. And the one baseboard heater in the unused rental unit turned to 50 for the same reason. I threw another quilt on the bed. Am getting really good use out of my hoodies and discovering the pluses to having Magique curl up on my feet under the computer desk.

And yesterday moved the French press coffee maker to the flat top of the wood stove to keep the fresh brewed coffee warm and eliminate the microwave in my morning rituals. Life is good. And no guilt about my carbon footprint.


  1. I do like my central air and heat. But I don't think it has to be wasteful. As I improved the insulation of my home by adding Hardyplank siding, a whole new roof, and double-paned windows, I was delighted to watch my utility bills drop by over a third.

    In addition, I keep the thermostat set at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter (62 at night). Even with the wide open ceiling in my kitchen right now, my furnace is not running as much as I anticipated I have found that by keeping doors closed, I retain the heat in the room much longer. I also close off vents in rooms I don't use all the time. And, like you, I dress appropriately: sweaters, turtlenecks, lap blankets, shoes and socks. Simply by dressing warmly, I find myself sometimes turning the thermostat down a bit for comfort.

    My biggest loss of heat seems to be around my outside entry doors. I can do more to insulate there.

  2. It is probably because of fibro but I just cannot tolerate the air on me that central heat generates. I like radiant heat and if we ever got natural gas here would switch to a steam baseboard heat.

    I am allergic to propane which used to be a negative but given how expensive that is these days it it a plus that I removed it from both units.

    I am considering a clear plastic drop of heavy material going over my outside studio French door. It seems to be the coldest door. I replaced all other doors a couple years ago and all the double pane windows that were leaking the year before that.

    But everything I do seems countered by raises in energy costs. Still haven't figured out why my coop electric company is more pricey than the commercial one in Albuquerque.

  3. There's nothing like a nice warm, snug house (or room) in winter. We have natural gas, but i have been toying with the idea of solar power for heating and hot water. We have very mild winters (compared to yours!) and the sun manages to shine for many days per year. I think solar power is a good green and cheap way to go for us.

    I love a tropical bathroom in winter so the heating gets pumped up in there!

  4. I love our wood burning stove. It is especially fun when I can set the clothes drying rack up near by and get my clothes dried and add much needed moisture to the air at the same time.


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