Thursday, January 17, 2013

baby its cold outside

A few days after New Years, the kids and I put on our vests, sauntered out into the balmy 60 degree morning (a refreshing change from the 25 degrees that we experienced in NJ over Christmas), and headed off to the park.  Our neighbor saw us and said "Brr! Don't you think its too cold to go to the park?"  I wanted to say that I had taken my kids to the park in NJ a few days earlier and had left the park not being able to feel my toes, and THAT was too cold, and 60 degrees was quite lovely, thanks, but all I said was "no, we are dressed quite warmly, we'll be fine."

California has been having "cold weather".  (If you were sitting next to me you would see that I put "cold weather" in air quotes and rolled my eyes as I did so.)  This "cold weather" has generally meant that the temperatures have hovered around 50 degrees.  I will admit that it is not warm and sunny, but it is hardly the Arctic.  Put on a sweater and a coat and you will be fine, people of the OC.

On Monday, Greg came home from school and informed me that he watched cartoons indoors at recess.  When I asked why, he said "because it was too cold to play outside."

It was 52 degrees.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor....I .....I....still don't know what to say to this RIDICULOUSNESS.  What worries me is that now I am raising children in these environs and these children will grow up to think that this is normal. GAH.

The Mister and I have always set the thermostat low, because we hate paying high heating bills.  Prior to having children we set the thermostat around 58 degrees.  When we had our first child I went nuts and set it at 68 degrees.  Since we lived mostly in a series of older, poorly insulated homes, even setting the thermostat at 64 degrees meant that we would have two or three months of heating bills hovering around $450.  Good times!

The first house we lived in together--have I written about this before?--we rented a 5 bedroom winter share house on a bay, and the entire back wall of the house was glass overlooking the bay.  I was still in law school and the Mister was working as a law clerk, so we had no money.  There was two zone heating in the house, so we turned the heat on the first floor to 54 degrees, and lived upstairs in two bedrooms, with the heat set upstairs to 60.  We were lucky the pipes didn't freeze. Even with those measures, the heating bill was more than $500 every month.

Sixty degrees indoors when the temperatures outdoors are in the 20s is not all that warm.  When I was studying in the second bedroom I had a small space heater under the desk at my feet, blankets on my lap and my shoulders, I wore two sweaters and a hat, and I had fingerless gloves so that I could type on the computer.  Sometimes we wore our coats indoors.  We even wore our coats in bed.  I can tell you that experience informed us that we were way too broke to afford a five bedroom home, even if the rent was doable.

We had a similar lesson when we bought a condo after we got married.  The condo had 20 foot ceilings and a loft.  We discovered that heating and cooling a room with twenty foot ceilings meant that the 8 foot ceiling bedrooms were roasting while the 20 foot ceiling living room was a meat locker.

This time around we also have 20 foot ceilings in our living room, and I guarantee you that the one very important item I am putting on my must-have list in a new house is NO 20 FOOT CEILINGS, as it is a challenge to heat/cool in a frugal manner.  (Yes, when I walked in the door of this house for the first time the first thing out of my mouth was "ugh, our AC bill will cost us an arm and a leg with that damn ceiling." But our housing options were limited so I rented this house anyways.)

On the other hand, seeing as we live in California, I turned the AC off in October and didn't turn the heat on (63 degrees at night, off during the day) until December 15th, so I've had a few months of less than $50 electric bills.  Wootwoot.

Where do you live, and what do you keep the heat set at? 


  1. Too funny! 60 degrees in the winter is quite nice, I think!! I'm paying $500 a month right now here in NJ to keep my 90 year old Tudor somewhat warm... So enjoy it!

  2. I'm in Connecticut. Heat is at 57 degrees at night and 62-63-64 when we're home. I feel I sleep much better when it is cool at night and I am cozy under the comforter. And when I am doing things around the house, I am quite warm; if I am sitting on the couch at night, I will wrap myself in a blanket or keep a vest on and I wear wool socks all winter long.

  3. In Ohio, heat set at 64 day and night. Brand new high efficiency furnace has made a world of difference in heating bills....let's us afford some new sweaters!

  4. The first house we lived in where we actually had to pay the heat was 1100 square feet, and built in the 50's, and had literally no insulation. I was always freezing, and we still paid HUNDREDS of dollars worth of heating bills every month in the winter. It makes me SO grateful for this house...I don't know if it's because it's older or because it's stucco, or because we have the heat set at 72 (I get cold waaaaay too easily and I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE being cold) but our heating bill is never more than $100, usually more around $80 unless it's been really cold, and it's nice and toasty warm in here. ALthough the floors are cold and we do have low ceilings. I bought a pair of shearling lined slippers just because the floors are SO cold and it's helped a lot. Next winter - more rugs!

  5. Wimpy Californians...

    It is currently -8C in Toronto (18 degrees F), a beautiful sunny day. I'm getting ready to go for a walk.

    My heat is set at 20C (68F) during the day and 18C (64F) at night. I live in a 70 year old uninsulated house and my gas bill last year was less than $800 (it was a mild winter last year)

  6. Minnesota! Mostly 68 in the winter and 72 in the summer. In the winter we turn the heat down to 64 at night.

    Our bill is never that high. YIKES.

  7. Oregon. We keep the thermostat at 68, and it's been less than toasty. While there are many things I love about our old split-entry, heating/cooling issues are a big negative. I boil in the summer and freeze in the winter. (Not literally, but it bugs me.) The downstairs is too cold in the winter, but it's the one tolerable place to be when it gets hot in the summer. When we do want to use our downstairs family room now, we build a fire and haul out blankets.

    I'm with you on no high ceilings. Had that before and will never go back!

  8. As a Californian, I'm not gonna tell you what my thermostat is set at! (It's at 68.)

    On the other hand, it was 29 degrees the other morning here, low 30s walking to school. I don't care, that's cold! But I was also unhappy when they cancelled recess here, when it was in the mid-50s that afternoon. Dumb.

  9. Ohio. It's set at 67 during the day (and when we're not home), 64 at night. On special occasions (Christmas) I go crazy and turn it up to 70. I finally got smart and put us on the budget plan, so we pay the same amount year round. No more surprise $300 bills just after Christmas (or in August when it is hot as blazes and twice as sweaty)!

  10. i hate being cold. 72 during the day and 67 at night. perhaps someday when my children learn what blankets are for we will make it colder at night. our heating bill is surprisingly not astronomical. especially once we converted from a 60 year old oil furnace to HE gas heat 2 years ago.


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