Thursday, January 20, 2011

Weathering Winter at Home

We purchased a new home several months ago. It is not really a new home; it is just new to us. It was built around 1950, the same year I was – gulp – born.  The house is in much better shape than I am.  It underwent a major makeover in the spring resulting in a new kitchen and bathroom, new paint, and refinished flooring. The house also lost a couple of walls as we opened up the living space.
It is now winter and cold outside. It is also rather cold inside. The house has gas heat, except for the family room. A later addition to the main house, the room has electric heat, poorly insulated walls and windows. My husband, an environmental consultant and engineer, is passionate in the extreme when it comes to heating our house, and paying for heating our house. He is intent on keeping the bills as low as possible, no matter what…
Without major upgrades to the family room, such as better windows and perhaps a fireplace insert we have been discussing, the family room is attractive to winter weather enthusiasts and the two of us wrapped in our hoodie footies. We keep the thermostat low in the main house, and off most of the time in the family room.
Did I mention we both work from home? There are two bedrooms upstairs, and we each claim one for an office. The good news is that both rooms have generous heating units. Most days the rooms are positively toasty. In the morning I quickly make breakfast, grab the paper and move upstairs (with my breakfast) for the duration of the day. I don’t even like going downstairs to make lunch. We turn the thermostat up about one hour before I go downstairs to make dinner. The kitchen warms up enough to be tolerable.
The routine was working fairly well until the gas bill arrived for December and the first week of January. It included the holidays when we had company and kept the temperature higher than usual throughout the house the entire day. The bill was well into the triple digits. The next thing I know the thermostat was turned down daytime another four 4 degrees. It is still nice upstairs, but not quite toasty.
Next winter I am planning on taking a vacation somewhere well south of the Frigid Zone.  This post is a bold request to friends in Las Vegas, Florida, and points south to invite us for a visit next winter.
We continue to talk about winterizing the family room by next winter. Meanwhile, I am hoping for an early spring.