Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tropical vacation

Honestly, having the house really warm for a couple of days is as good as a tropical vacation. I am wearing only one layer, a long fleecey dress that sometime serves as nightgown without even any long undies. I just passed over the heat vent and thought I would swoon with delight.


Why don’t we have a warm house all the time, you ask. It’s not easy to get drafty old farmhouses warm in the first place, and keeping them warm requires an unacceptable financial commitment.

As time goes on, I will get accustomed to my wood furnace. I will learn how to manage the amount of heat I generate, which is controlled partly by the number of times I toddle downcellar to add a log and partly by the thermostat that controls air flow to the fire. Again from T the wisdom, “There is a fine line between keeping the fire going and letting your wood heat go up the chimney.”

Ayuh. Right now I see all that wood downstairs as a free resource, but as I learn to manage it, I will see each log as an hour (or so) of heat and will be able to trade off the cost of wood against the cost of oil in the furnace.

So far I really like burning wood. I am off today to buy an ash bucket. Ask me again next year when I am weary of hauling and stacking wood, doubly weary of hauling ash up the stairs. But I am fortunate that I can burn wood when I want and let the oil come on betweentimes, so I am not as tied to the daily clean and burn routine as many of my neighbors.

For today, I am enjoying having enough warmth to do some sorting and organizing, moving from room to room without having to worry about keeping warm. I am making bread without having to coddle the yeasties in the oven with a pan of hot water. The dogs will likely entice me out for a run later in the day, and when I come home I can luxuriate in warmth all over again. I might even take a bubble bath.


Jola said...

I'm happy for you! And I can really relate, because just in the last week DH hooked up the pellet stove and now when I go downstairs I don't have to brace myself and flip up the hood of my microfleece just to stave off pneumonia. The pellets aren't cheap, however, ($6.49/40 lb. bag at Agway, plus tax). A 40 lb. bag is (supposedly) equivalent to 2-1/2 gallons of oil. There was a pellet shortage this year, so I think the price got inflated. We're going to have buy the pellets by the bulk rate ton for next winter. My husband is still a little nervous about our new contraption, but we've run it at the lowest setting for a few overnights now, and so far anyway the house hasn't burned down. Yes, heat! It is making the winter much more tolerable.

Anonymous said...

I really smiled in recognition reading the last two posts. We don't get as cold as you here in Wales but housing stock is old and thick stone walls don't keep all the damp cold winds out.
I feel very fortunate these days to have a natural gas combi boiler so have access to instant hot water at any hour of the day and timed heating to my radiators.
Like you the ambient temperature here is around 15C with the heating on and the stone walls hold the warmth well when the radiators are not on as long as the temp outside doesn't drop too far below 8C degree mark. I have a small wood/coal burning stove in my sitting room which I light on below 8C days and this pumps out a huge boost in heat which has pups gently cooking in front of the fire gaurd and me sitting without hot water bottle propped behind my back which is hugely decadent it feels.
Personal financial constraints, thoughts of the Earth resources, consideration of other lives housed in cardboard boxes and plastic sheeting all make me reach for another layer rather than the thermostat and actually I do think that 60F/15C is not an impossibly dreadful temperature to live and work in but love it when the sun comes visit the valley and we soar into the 20's ha-ha, short trousers and sleevless vests bare feet and straw hats are a definite element in my wadrobe:0)


Mary Beth said...

...actually I do think that 60F/15C is not an impossibly dreadful temperature to live and work in but love it when the sun comes visit the valley and we soar into the 20's ha-ha,

The clock thermostat at my house is set to go on and off depending on whether I'm off to work or home for the weekend etc. The normal high is 60F and the low is 50F. When it gets too cold outside I have to work to keep the kitchen pipes from freezing (the drain pipe strangely enough freezes up long before the water feeds). But my oil provider can't figure out how I use so little fuel.

The good news is that the other night when the power was out for 6 hours or so, the inside temp wasn't all that much lower than normal. But at that temp each degree is meaningful and you have to watch what's going on.

The biggest problem I have with all this is how hot I feel everywhere else and how little tolerance i have for people (mostly women) complaining how COLD they are when it's like 70F! Hello - you go outside and enjoy the spring when it's 50-55F, now don't you?

My dream is to get a pellet stove. More realistic is probably to start planning on replacing the old oil furnace with a combi.

Karen said...

Yes, I normally live in that space, too, Mary Beth. I don't really know how cold it is in my house because I don't really want to know. Mostly, I huddle next to this nifty little Hearthstone propane stove that vents direct out the wall.

When temps drop to zero outside, the drafts overwhelm the furnace and the washer drain and the dishwasher freeze...This time I lost the dishwasher. No surprise, really, since I knew I was playing the odds.

Now I know I can burn wood when it is this cold again. I know all three of you understand my euphoria!

Mary Beth said...

If you want an interesting read, try:

Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home 1760-1860 -- by Jane C. Nylander; Knopf, 1994 ISBN 0-394-54984-8

Great realistic look at what it was like to live in these old houses when they were new.