Wednesday, November 19, 2008

are you cold, or is blue lipstick the new red?

A few weeks ago, when the temperature started to drop into the 40s at night, Dave decided to turn on the heat for the first time this fall. In our neighborhood of Prius-driving, bike commuting, tree hugging, organic master recyclers, turning on the heat before the average daytime temp dips below 40 degrees could be interpreted as a sign of weakness - akin to depositing a ton of carbon directly into the ozone layer over our street.

So every fall, Dave and I have an argument about just how low the temperature in the house should get before we fire up the furnace. I say an ambient temperature of 65 degrees is perfectly acceptable. It's easy to just throw on a sweater and snuggle on the couch with our portable lap warmers, and while I don't have a problem wearing my fingerless gloves indoors, Dave has a hard time staving off hypothermia at temperatures below 68 degrees. To his credit, during the course of these arguments discussions, Dave (perfect gentleman that he is) never points out the obvious differences in our allotments of body fat, or the fact that I occasionally experience (ahem!) hot flashes in the middle of the night that cause me to throw off the blankets and fan myself with the frosty air.

The ritual first lighting of the furnace starts with a thorough hosing down of the expensive filter bought several years ago to cut down on the amount of dust blowing out of the ancient ducts. I also seem to remember some discussion about it supposedly making the furnace work more efficiently, thereby saving money on fuel...never mind that our furnace is at least 40 years old, and efficiency=occasionally making warm air come out through the vents.

Next comes the programming of the thermostat, to gain maximum energy efficiency and savings by not heating the house when we're away, or when we're snug in bed asleep under an extra lofty down comforter (or a somewhat menopausal spouse). The thermostat was a pretty snazzy state of the art piece of equipment when we bought it a few years ago...7 day and night programs to cater to our specific heating needs. So after giving careful consideration to work schedules, sleep schedules, weekends, vacations sick days, and the phases of the moon, Dave gets the thing all set for winter weather.

Everything was fine for a few days. The furnace kicked on early enough in the morning to make the bathroom all warm and toasty by the time we got up to shower. It shut off when Dave left for work and I went out to the studio. It came back on in the late afternoon to heat the house back up to 68 degrees until bedtime. Everything was working smoothly until my hormones started going whacko. (Or so I thought.) I was watching a movie in the living room, when I noticed my cheeks were getting hot. I thought maybe I was having a reaction to the wine I was drinking, when I realized the roar I'd been ignoring in the background was the furnace on full blast. I got up to check the thermostat, which read 88 degrees. I turned it back down to 68 and hit the "run program" button, figuring Dave must have been really cold to turn it up that high.

The next morning I noticed a crowd around the heating vent in the dining room. The heat seekers were drawn there by the high volume of hot air coming from the vent.

Once again, the temperature was set at 88 degrees. I turned it back down to 68. This went on for a few days, each of us turning it down then forgetting to mention it to the other, until one night at 2 am Dave noticed that our bedroom was like a sauna.

The next day he started researching new thermostats, which consisted of walking down the heating aisle of the home improvement store he works at, and picking out a new one...and here it is in all its glory:

It works great, but two weeks later I have one question: Is this the permanent installation?

Sighhh...Looks like we won't be saving any money on our heating bills this year...

Stop by Bossy's place for actual tips on how to save money and get your ass out of debt...

Now excuse me while I go look for some paint and spackle.


g said...

Wow, it's thermostat-post time, for sure!!

Sadly, our Southern California house is heated by what I like to call two toasters in the basement, blazing away with a fan played upon them. Our thermostats are circa 1963.

We seldom turn on the heat, using local space heaters and a fire in the fireplace to keep warm.

flowersbyfarha said...

Thanks for the laugh!

I'm encouraged, that maybe, for real this time, the heater in my office will get replace/fixed sometime this winter (it's been several years cuz it's so old, there's no such thing as replacement parts)... and this primarily because he who has more insulation than I is getting tired of being cold in his office down the hall, lol!