Are you a renter in the northeast? Then there’s a good chance that heat season began for you yesterday. Your landlord is required by law to heat your residence (or make heat available, if you control the thermostat) to a certain threshold based on the outdoor temperature.
I bet that’s nice.
Meanwhile in first time home owner land, I’m just sitting here in a robe and fuzzy socks, sipping hot tea and wondering if hot water bottles at the foot of your bed are a burn hazard.
Are any of you always cold, no matter what you do? Because I’m always cold. My core body temperature usually measures in the low 97s, sometimes lower. Whenever anyone touches my hand, they usually end up pressing it between their palms for a few seconds because they can’t believe how cold it is. I use throw blankets on the couch in the summer. My heaviest winter coat is essentially an ankle-length down blanket. It’s probably a reflection of my, you know, overall frosty demeanor and chilly affect, right? But it’s also sort of an asset in this heating dilemma. I’m so used to sleeping in sweatshirts in the winter, or putting on an extra pair of socks, or sipping on warm beverages to unthaw, that it doesn’t feel like a huge imposition.
It’s hard to believe that mere weeks ago, I was trying to strategically position box fans, ceiling fans, and cross-breezes in 90+ degrees and 90% humidity so that I didn’t have to start using an air conditioner.
What does that tell you? Well first of all, I live in an area with a lot of temperature extremes. But also, I am one cheap homeowner. Out of deference to real, legitimate broke people, I will not call myself a broke homeowner, because I could afford to plug in an air conditioner and heat my house to 68. Call it stubbornness, or call it some sort of all-American rugged individualism or puritanical self-denial, it just doesn’t seem like the best use of my money.
Let’s put it in 90s nostalgia terms. If you played Oregon Trail as a kid, you’d know that there were two kinds of players. Some people magnanimously paid for the ferry across the river, the bags of grain at the trading post, and the leisurely trek across the prairie. Then there was the other half: grueling pace, meager rations, hope Joeyisabutt doesn’t get typhoid. I’d caulk my wagon to ford the river, because the wagon was an investment – just like I will get my gutters cleaned and have my furnace inspected every year, because I’m cheap, not stupid. I guess the question – in Oregon Trail and in life – is how much of your budget do you want to devote to being comfortable?
There’s one thing that will break my resolve: house guests. I remember visiting my grandparents as they implored me to “take off your coat, stay a while!” as my mother made “you’re being rude” eyes at me. It was like a frigid cave in there. I don’t want to be the house that people have to visit wearing a parka and wielding an ice pick, because I’ve been there. In college, one of my roommates was convinced that we should keep the temperature at 60 and just bundle up in the dead of winter. I was already wearing sweaters and slipper-socks and waddling around wrapped in swaddling clothes. One of us would always up the thermostat to 70, then she’d come home and adjust it back down to 60. We called it the Cold War, because no actual battles were fought, no aggression exchanged. Also because we were freezing. But now that I am not splitting the heat bill with five other people, it doesn’t seem quite so crazy.
Here’s where it stands right now. When I woke up this morning, my house was 59 degrees. It was 45-ish outside. Am I crazy to think that isn’t so bad? Yet 59 indoors when it’s 15 degrees outside would feel frigid. I feel like before long it will be in the 60s again, so there’s no need to jump the gun. When my house dips below 55, or the air outside stays in the 30s and 40s for days on end, then I’ll have to do something. I’m just wondering how much longer I can hold out, because as they say about Game of Thrones, a show we don’t watch, winter is coming.