A friend of mine mentioned the other day he finds that as he gets older — he's 60-ish, like me — his tolerance for cold, nasty weather diminishes.
As far as I'm concerned, a greater truth was never spoken.
We're already a month into winter, and the really cold days, I suspect, are ahead of us. Right now, we've been dealing with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s, with the nighttime mercury dipping into the 20s or 30s. Subtract 10 wind-chilled degrees from those averages on days when the wind is blowing, even if it's just a breeze. Wind penetrates to my 60-year-old bones.
So in my house, at least, it's a raging battle between the thermostat and the utility bill. We walk a fine line between freezing our tails off while trying to stay marginally comfortable while trying to stay marginally solvent.
This is how we do it:
1) We have our utility bill averaged out so that we know how much we're paying each month without any surprises or hits to the wallet. Since we know how much we are paying each month, we've set the thermostat in our 1,700-square foot, nearly 100-year-old house at 65 degrees, figuring at that temperature we can prevent icicles from forming on our noses and still function.
2) To help keep the gas furnace from cutting on every five minutes, we've closed off several unused rooms in the house.
3) To warm the two rooms that we do use — the den (where the TV is) and the bedroom — we use energy efficient electric space heaters. Our den, in fact, is fairly small, and we can close it off with French doors. So the space heater there gets the room toasty in no time.
4) We also throw a comforter over us while we sit on the love seat watching TV. We can use snuggling as an option.
5) I've discovered Under Armour and I wear mine constantly under my outer clothing. The stuff uses a moisture-wicking synthetic fiber and is very effective.
6) Sipping drinks of the adult persuasion.
7) We cap it all off with a cat between us when it really gets cold. Fortunately, the cat is usually agreeable to this. (I think this is because the cat is nearly 12 years old, which translates to something like 66 in human years. So she's where I am now. She understands.)
8) It's pretty much the same procedure in the bedroom. We have an electric space heater that oscillates, we have a comforter over the bed, the cat usually joins us there (sometimes she goes under the covers and curls up at our feet), and snuggling is always an option.
Apparently, all of this works. Granted, last winter was significantly mild. Nevertheless, when it came time to square off our utility bill in June,
the city actually owed us hundreds of dollars. And it brought our monthly average down for this year. Insert smiley face here.
We still may not be done. My wife, Kim, saw an ad in the paper where a local retailer overstocked on electric blankets and is offering them at a discount. Hmm.
Summer will be here before we know it. In an era of global warming, the trick will be to see how we can stay cool. Right now, the only thing I can think of is removing layers of clothing to compensate for the heat.
And that's not a pretty sight.