Broken furnace

I read the Cold House Journal regularly. As a former desert dweller, I find it compelling and encouraging. The author on that Web site is pretty fanatical about reducing his carbon footprint. When he blogged about the Crunchy Chicken’s Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, I signed up.

We try to be frugal and environmentally responsible. A few days ago, a reporter from USA Today tracked me down and asked how it was going. I didn’t know it when I talked to her, but it turns out the furnace was broken. I knew it was cold in the house, but I didn’t know it was THIS cold! When it gets below 50 degrees F in your home, it’s time to call for reinforcements!


  1. I think you might win for having the lowest temperature! It’s pretty cold at 55 degrees inside in the morning - at 40 and some change you might as well be outside (well, at least in Seattle).

  2. cl says:

    OK, I have to weigh in on this~! I would say “hats off” to all you taking the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, but when it’s below 60, I think you probably need to keep your hats on :)
    James younger brother lived for several years in southern China, in a “mild” enough climate that furnaces were basically non-existant. So, Crunchy Chicken, if it was 40 outside, it was just a little above 40 inside. Fortunately, usually it was more in the low 50s. We spent a long month there one week several years ago.

    Once you put on your coat, you wore it constantly, along with however many layers underneath, gloves, and a head covering. I hated brushing my teeth (no hot water except for a luxurious small “demand” tank over the shower…. heat water on the stove for anything else, and tooth brushing was a shocking experience) or taking a shower (yeah, hot water but the room was 45 degrees!), and raced to change clothes (I understand why people used to put on their long-johns in the fall and did not take them off till spring!)
    Before said brother could afford the hot water tank for his shower, he shared the “solar” water heater on the building roof with the other tenants. He said people just didn’t take showers when there was cloudy weather!

    Someone on the other site asked about how cold is too cold for little ones, and I’d hazard a guess they can take a lot more than we might think, cuz the human race wouldn’t have survived thru the winters of 1000s of years otherwise…. My dad said their “central heat” was “if you’re too cold, hitch your chair a little closer to the fire… too warm? scoot back and let someone else closer in for a bit.” And Pa Ingalls said chopping wood warms you twice. All us central heat afficinados are weinies, and I for one admit it :)

    People didn’t just go to the new Mickey-Dees for the food - that was one of the few places in the city (of several million) that was actually heated. I never knew french fries could be so wonderful on so many levels.
    One night we went to one of those Japanese grill places - the electricity was out (at least a weekly occurance) but they had candles and of course cooked on the gas grill, so it was all good. Most places there don’t shut their outside doors during business hours (why bother ?) and it was a tiny little place, but we loved hunkering over the grill and ate quickly once they turned it off.

    Now little brother lives in western PA and keeps his thermostat at a toasty 60, but it’s an old leaky house so don’t let that fool you. I have a great pic of myself wearing sweat pants under my jeans and with a blanket wrapped around my waist, two pairs of sox (one Smart Wool) and two long sleeve shirts under a PUMA hoodie (wore that hood 24/7), and gloves. Altho when James spent the night there a few weeks later, he said he found the house a “little warm”. Ha. If I go back in cold weather, I’m gonna give them $100 bucks to turn up the thermostat to 62.

    My house? We have 3 heat zones, and in the 20+ years we’ve lived here, we’ve left bedroom zone and office/utility room at lowest setting and living area usually around 65. Currently in the office it’s 61; 34 and cold winds howling outside.

    True confessions: We also have a fabulous wood stove that we can crank up and roast ourselves out, which I have been known to do……

    So, a “tip of the hat” to you hearty souls out there freezIng yur buns.
    Just listening to this wind makes me cold so I’m gonna go start a fire in the wood stove.

    PS James, love the snow pics, especially the dandelion. And your moonlight shots are wonderful, how do you get the clouds just right ? :) )

  3. James says:

    Wow - what a nice, well thought out comment. Where to start!

    Claire is traveling right now, so it’s just me and the cats. I’ve turned the thermostat down to 45 while she’s gone. Don’t get me wrong, I will use a space heater in the room I’m in during my waking hours! So I will be toasty, but the rest of the house will not be a big energy drain.

    As for the clouds in those pictures, it’s pretty much a function of how long the shutter is open. That’s why the moon seems a little over-exposed. The shutter speed is VERY slow; it was open about a second for each of them. The one with the oak trees has blurry clouds because of it - there was no wind at ground level, so I got nice, sharp branches, but the clouds were moving pretty quick.

  4. Stacie @ gifts for gardeners says:

    Nice one James. I have been reading a lot lately about carbon footprints and how complex it is. I’d love to have a better carbon footprint but as I whinge for the slightest dip in temperature, I don’t think freezing my buns off will be the way to go! I’ll be checking out some blogs about being more environmentally responsible though so don’t think your post has been in vain!


  1. [...] I figured out why I was so cold when she interviewed me. The furnace was broken, and I didn’t even notice it. It was down to around 45 degrees. [...]

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