Comments: Are They For Real?

I used to live in Oregon in a converted warehouse/artist studio. Most winters is was 42 degrees inside. I only had wood heat for a humongous, impossible to heat space. 42 was my limit. Lower than that and I begrudgingly brought out the electric space heaters. But still, it was never "warm." (One year, it got down to 22 INSIDE. That WAS really too much. I went to a motel while my pipes froze!)

Now, I live in Los Angeles, and I've become such a wuss...I've actually got the heat on right now and it's 65 OUTSIDE. It's crazy what your body can grow accustomed to and adapt to.

But I admit, I am spoiled. Los Angeles...and real heat? Not a flimsy old wood stove in the wilds of Oregon? Luxury, pure luxury!

Posted by DogsDontPurr at January 8, 2011 09:24 PM

42 was your limit? HOLY CATS! That's like saying, "My limit is when it started to snow in my flat. No snowing in my flat..." Gah!

Posted by Bou at January 8, 2011 09:28 PM

I was born and raised in Northeastern Wisconsin so I've known cold my entire life. My husband and I are pretty frugal about utilities. We have our thermostat set at 58 at night, 60 during the day when we're gone at work, and (all the way) up to 63 in the morning and evening. I'm sitting at my computer wrapped in a down throw with slippers and fingerless gloves on. I don't actually mind too much. We finally turned the furnace on during the last week of October this year when we got home from work to find the dog sleeping with her tail covering her nose & the thermostat reading at 53.

If money wasn't an issue, I'd probably set the furnace to 68 when we were home and 60 at night/when we're gone. My parents, who live in the same town & have my elderly grandparents living with them have their furnace set to 75 & often have a wood fire going in the fireplace. I consider that uncomfortably warm. You just shouldn't be able to walk around in shorts in the winter, even inside.

I don't know... I guess you just get used to being cold. I can imagine it's much more of a shock to a Floridian... just like I nearly died during the two weeks this past summer where the temp broke 90 here. On the other hand... my new (old) house doesn't have an air conditioner, and last summer I only ran the AC in my apartment for 2 weeks total all year. And I haven't melted yet.

Just out of curiosity, what do you southerners set your AC to in the summer?

Posted by MonicaC at January 8, 2011 09:46 PM

I will say, its interesting to note that you are actually cold though. I had envisioned y'all with 55 degree flats or homes and in just jeans and a sweat shirt with socks. I am actually uncomfortable in jeans, sweatshirt and socks at 68 where I keep it. I need a tshirt on under, and my infamous muppet slippers, which are the frickin' bees knees.

And I'm utility frugal. I am. I admit it. It bugs the ever livin' stew out of me to give money to utility companies when we can all just suck it up and put on more clothes.

And I think that living up that way, if it were 75 in a house, I'd be miserable. That is dang warm.

I keep my a/c on 78 all year around. (It still gets warm here in the winter. Rarely does my a/c kick on, but it does sometimes.) During the day I kick it up to 80 with my programmable thermostat and then at 3PM it comes on for 78. Nights are the same... 78 with a fan on.

Some people think my house is too dang hot, but I can't deal with the power bill otherwise.

Posted by Bou at January 8, 2011 09:57 PM

I live on the Gulf Coast...we generally have the house somewhere in the 70s...mid- to upper-70s in the summer, with ceiling fans going...sometimes we set it to 68 in the winter at bedtime.

Yeah...I'm a winter wuss.

Posted by Mrs. Who at January 8, 2011 10:17 PM

We're all mostly winter wusses here!

I knew I needed to comtemplate turning the heat on when I wanted to be at work, when the voice in my head was saying, 'I'm only comfortable at work now...' Yeah, that's not good.

Posted by Bou at January 8, 2011 10:26 PM

No! I don't do cold. It's as bad as excessive heat. It saps your energy, makes you sleepy, and makes life difficult overall when it goes on for long periods of time.

How warm I keep it in the house depends on how I'm feeling. I'm home all day and I work in front of a computer. You'll notice many people keep the temps in their houses low, but they aren't there all day - they are at the office where it's generally warmer, so they do get a chance to get warmed up most of the day. This allows them to come home and tolerate a lower temp in general for a shorter period of time. Whereas I would be sitting here for months and never ever be warm. (heating season is generally Sept/Oct thru May)

I can not sit in a cold house, barely moving, and survive. We do 64 at night and 68 during the day. (less than 65 I start to get the shakes if I'm not in bed under blankets). If I had a job where I was up and moving - it would be better. But unless you're expending energy to stay warm - it's too easy to go the other way and get way too cold - sometimes without even realizing it.

I have a space heater in my office. I turn that on during the day when 68 isn't warm enough. Like the other day I was at my desk typing and was so chilled I thought I had a fever. Since I have been not feeling well, I took my temperature thinking I very likely needed to take some ibuprofen... it was 96.9! Body temps below 97.5 are considered to be too cold. I turned on my space heater and within a half an hour I felt better.

We've had the electricity go out (most recently a couple years ago with the ice storm) and once the temps fell below 60 inside, it was completely miserable. So I shell out the $$$ for heating oil about 4 times a winter. It was far cheaper to heat our house in Chicago than it is here, but I can't see being totally miserable for months on end unless I had a damned good reason. Since we can afford it - there's no contest. heh.

Posted by Teresa at January 9, 2011 12:51 AM

I live in Seattle and I don't turn the heat on in my apartment. It's on the ground floor so there's some heat from neighboring apartments but it's quite cold. I can often see my breath indoors.

It's just that, as an engineer, I know that heating the whole house is a stupid way of keeping a guy (who's only a couple cubic feet in volume) warm.

I keep about 6" of blankets on my bed. It's quite toasty under there. And since I'm a wuss, I have a mattress pad heater. Even on it's "low" setting it's too hot so I only use it to take the edge off of a cold bed and when I want to sit up and do something. I can't sleep with it on.

And being a guy, my toes and fingers are warm pretty much all the time. Also, I added a space heater to the bathroom so my showers are reasonable.

Posted by Carl Brannen at January 9, 2011 01:04 AM

Come stay with my mom when it is 26F in north Florida... the day thermostat was 62 and the night was 50... I thought I was going to die. THe boys kept coming out of their sleeping bags and would holler for me at 2am. Sucked to be me! Cold. Way to cold for this south Florida girl. Yaa, 78 and 80 on the A/C. Though I have caught my hubby moving it down to 74...

Posted by vwbug at January 9, 2011 07:08 AM

We *just* broke down and bought a little ceramic heater for the cracker box. Last winter was no fun at all without some form of heat and though it's only been used a couple of times this winter, it's all I need.

Don't really like central heat.

Posted by pam at January 9, 2011 09:09 AM

You may find it amusing to know that in Chicago there is a law so that slumlords can be prosecuted for not providing sufficient heat - not that they are, but they can be. Now remember this is for poor people living in subsidized housing and this is what is considered minimally acceptable.

Chicago heat season starts Sept 15 and ends May 31. The minimum temps maintained in each unit must be:

65 between 7:30 and 8:30 am
68 between 8:30am and 10:30pm
63 between 10:30pm and 7:30am


Saw Carl's comment above. It's currently 65 in our house because my husband (bless his heart) does this to me on weekends. I've had my hot shower and decided to check my email. I've been sitting at my computer for about 5 minutes now and my fingers hurt they are so cold (they are pink... but they hurt... go figure). I think that's a pretty individual thing. Some people can tolerate more cold than others.

Posted by Teresa at January 9, 2011 10:19 AM

Utility costs (along with many other things)in Florida have been outrageous ever since the bad hurricane year. My house is older and leaky and the central heat and air unit is ancient. I cannot afford repairs/upgrades. I haven't used air or heat in many years because I refuse to pay (and cannot afford) the $300-$400 bills it would bring.
This past summer was the worst I remember in my 34 years in central FL. In the winter I use a sheet, comforter, two thermal blankets and wear sweat pants, long shirt, heavy bathrobe and socks to bed. This year I splurged on a heating pad.
It's really amazing what people can tolerate when they have to.

Posted by Jean at January 9, 2011 11:42 AM

Teresa- I think its never a good thing when someone start exhibiting signs of hypothermia in their own home! I do think that different types of bodies can tolerate different types of cold. I struggle in a cold house. It's completely doable, but I definitely find myself going into the kitchen thinking, "Maybe if I bake and turn the oven on, there will be ONE room that is comfortable in which to hang..."

Carl- Holy cats. I've lived like that. When we lived in Taiwan, our home was on the top of a mountain. There was no central A/C or heat and the house was made out of concrete and plywood... NO insulation at all. In the winter, when you woke up, you could blow smoke in your bedroom. My Dad would get up early and turn on various space heaters in the main rooms we'd be in, just to make it tolerable.

That said... in those 18 months, none of us ever got sick. No central a/c or heat no matter where we went... we never caught any type of bug or cold. Amazing too since their health requirements for food etc were.. substandard at best.

But as an adult now, I'd struggle with it. I'd do it, but struggle.

Jean- You are ABSOLUTELY right. The human body can tolerate an awful lot when it has to. One of the reasons I refused to turn on the heat was I got a $400 heating bill. I said to the kids, "All of you are in private school, the economy is bad... no heat." After the first week, I think they were ready to switch to public schools just so I MIGHT heat the house.

It just seems like such a waste of money when we can all suck it up and put on more clothes...

Posted by Bou at January 9, 2011 11:58 AM

North Carolina here (western - mountains - snow and all that) I keep the thermostat at about 60-62. Of course my son and husband fuss non-stop and I have to check every now and then because they bump it up when they think I'm not paying attention. The hub curls up with a heating pad every evening - the wuss.

Posted by patti at January 9, 2011 02:02 PM

It is pretty mild where I am North of the border, but it has been known to go into deep-freeze mode every so often. I can't really afford to turn the heat up, so I bear with it. Had to laugh at comments by Carl and Teresa... as that is what I go through as well. So far I have kept the thermostat around 16c (61F) which depending on the temp outside, keeps the house at 11 to 14c (53 to 57F). The heat still kicks in and the gas bill can still hit almost $200. If I kept the house at a comfortable temp, the bill would be $200 MORE than that. I on occasion get the shakes and my hands turn purple, say when the outside temp goes below 0c (32F), to the coldest so far this winter -12c (10F) (with windchill it was -20c (-4F)). Doesn't help that I haven't been able to get the single-pane glass windows replaced yet and that there is no insulation in the walls. Oh well, such is life. I have a small heater in the bathroom and a great down duvet. At night I just have to make sure that my head is covered too, or I would wake up with purple cheeks.

There was a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon a while back where the dad says "cold builds character" and Calvin replies "I KNEW he'd say that."

As for summer, I figure for the two or three weeks that it might hit 80 to 90 or over, just enjoy it, so no AC.

Posted by Spockgirl at January 9, 2011 07:02 PM

Hubby and I are also conservative about heating the house and tend to use throw rugs rather than turning up the heat. We keep our day temperature to 62 and our night temp to 57. That said, here in Australia the cold is a w-a-y less problem than the heat! Spent Saturday trying to do anything possible to stay indoors as it was 114 degrees outside (yes seriously!)

Posted by Shaz at January 9, 2011 08:32 PM

Patti- I'd most definitely have a heating pad for my bed. I didn't even know they made those until a month ago... said the girl from Florida!

Funny story, we were in the midst of a cold snap. The house was at 65 degrees. I was in the kitchen working on some stuff, when I saw my husband out of the corner of my eye, go to the thermostat. He upped it and went to bed. I waited and then lowered it... and went to bed. Heh.

Spockgirl, I am such a dork. You wrote North of the Border and I'm thinking, "Oh! She's North of the Mason Dixon!" Then I read what you were writing, in Celsius and I realized... OH! She is REALLY NORTH! You're like in the frozen part of the continent!

Do you think that the insulation and windows will help your power bill more or your heating?

Shaz- Ah, yes, you're in the midst of summer!! Yeah, I believe 114. We don't get THAT hot, but I'm wondering if there is a correlation between your hot summers and ours that follow. We top out at 105? 107? But I know Yuma, AZ can get hotter than three hells. One of my readers used to live there and one summer people were having to use cloth to open storefront doors as the knobs were so hot.

Posted by Bou at January 9, 2011 08:40 PM

We keep ours on 67-68 @ all times in winter. We are lucky in Nebraska to have low electric and gas bills, and they do build for the heat, and cold. My Husband has been deployed too many times, and has lived sans such luxuries too often to be without a hot shower, a comfortable home, and a decent meal.
Our electric bill in Arkansas in winter was $220 degrees a month for a house 1/3 the size of our current home. The winters in Nebraska are much colder, and my highest elctric bill this winter has been $187.78...pretty amazing. We have 2 gas fireplaces, that we run very rarely to take the chill off if we have been out of doors for an extended amount of time.

Posted by AWTM at January 10, 2011 12:43 AM

Haha. Yeah I'm in the True North strong and free place, but in the southwestern area. We have Natural Gas Heat and Hydro-electric power, so it is the gas bill that is high. My power bill is very low as I don't consume a lot of electricity. The insulation and new windows would lower the gas bill but wouldn't affect the power bill.
And... there are varying degrees of freezing up here, depending on how wimpy one is. For example, couple days ago at 0c (32F) there were two twenty something guys in shorts buying ICE CREAM! Now THAT is Canadian.

Posted by Spockgirl at January 10, 2011 04:41 AM

for winter: my parents have their heat set at between 50 and 55 for at night, and 60 during the day. they occasionally up it to 65 when my sister (who is always cold) is home. we live in minnesota.

Posted by amelie at January 10, 2011 08:28 AM

During the winter we keep it at 65, day and night. Because I am cheap, but 65 is my limit. Although I am under a blanket at home from Sept to May so that 65 degrees only effects me when I crawl out from under the blanket to go to the bathroom.

My joints can't take the cold anymore, it really really effects them and once I get real cold it can take days (literally) to warm up.

During the summer it's 75 during the day, 69 at night because I can't sleep if I am hot and am miserable the next day.

My thing is if the temperature of your house is set to where it affects your functioning (ie no sleep or hurts your joints, or makes you move slower) that is just plain dumb.

But people really also need to look at their windows, insulation, doors, etc. Spending money on making your house more efficent is actually the best thing, that will save you a lot more by not needing the extra heat/AC.

Posted by Quality Weenie at January 10, 2011 09:06 PM

I work in the construction industry. Whatever the temps are outside is what you have to put up with for 8 to 12 hours a day. I keep my house so that I can sit in a T-shirt and shorts any time of the year (approx. 72 degrees F).

As a justification... There was one time that I was building a device that my office had never seen before. I took over the job from someone who didn't have all the know-how to get things done. The high temps were around the 15 degree mark with the wind chills in the single digits... The boss came for a visit. AS he was saying things like "Well I've got a meeting" and " I think it's time we go", I came up with different things to talk to him about.

"There's this one technical detail I have concerns about...", and "there's this other thing I have safety concerns about...". It was a lot of fun watching the man who is used to "heated encounters" shrink into his jacket like the wicked witch of the west.

Work outside for awhile, and you'll quickly figure out what side of the thermostat you're on.

The comfortable one. Bill's be D++++d.

Posted by Johnny - Oh at January 10, 2011 10:34 PM

Sorry Bou. I think this carbon footprint thing is BS. When Pope Albert I of the Church of AGW starts reducing his carbon footprint maybe I'll take this AGW stuff seriously.

72 during the day
64 at night.

Posted by Denny at January 11, 2011 01:47 PM

Spockgirl... that's so Wisconsin, too. I had a coworker that pushed his girlfriend's car out of a snowbank in shorts... and 32 degrees is pretty darn warm for winter. "Cold" is below 0 degrees F. Maybe up to 10 F if you count windchill...

Posted by MonicaC at January 11, 2011 07:28 PM