Autumn Has Fallen

by Katy on October 8, 2008 · 5 comments


I woke up this morning to a nippy cold house. I quickly grabbed my thick robe and started up the morning school day routine. I took a quick glance at the thermostat and saw the temperature in the living room was indeed 60 degrees. Brrr . . .

Did I crank the furnace into action?

No way.

I opened up all the blinds to let some sunshine in and filled the tea kettle. By noon I could still see my breath outside, so this was indeed a true Autumn day.

Did I turn the furnace on now?


I pulled on a polar fleece cardigan and made sure to be wearing my favorite wool socks. Flannel sheets made their way onto the beds.

I will fight this. I refuse to turn on the furnace until it’s absolutely necessary.

It’s a current expectation to be able to live in a home heated to summer temperatures year round. People in cold weather countries such as Ireland and Sweden have proud traditions of intricately knitted sweaters. And why? Because if it’s cold out, you wear that thick extra layer — even indoors.

It might be different if I had a nice, well insulated house, but that’s simply not the case. Our house is like a sieve. Strong winds move the curtains, and the only thing insulated is metaphorical.

We had the Energy Trust of Oregon do a free home energy audit last year, and the guy laughed at the house. Laughed! He had many, many suggestions, few of which we could afford. With a 94-year-old house, there always seems to be something vying for our home improvement dollars. Sewer line, de-commissioning an oil tank. You get the drift. Fun stuff. Yes, I’d like to have insulation blown into the exterior walls. But it simply isn’t in this year’s budget.

So I’ll wait to start heating the house until the flannel, wool and polar fleece aren’t cutting it anymore. And yes, we’ll all be drinking a lot of tea. I might even take up knitting. (With used yarn, of course!)

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

CanadianKate October 9, 2008 at 9:57 am

We had an energy audit after putting in new windows and were told to plug in and run our heat recovery ventilator because the house is too airtight. So that added another electrical expense. He also told us to ventilate the attic more and that was done this summer. Immediately, our bedroom temps dropped 2 – 3 degrees since the heat in the attic could now escape instead of warming the upstairs all night.

In prep to add solar hot water, we had another audit just yesterday and this guy wants more caulking (sealing the hatches to the attic, caulking more around some of the windows and doors, sealing the edges of bathroom fans and climbing into the attic to make sure the vapour barrier is still tight where the two sections of the house meet) in order to cut air leakage more. He says since we are running the HRV anyway, we may as well make the rest of the house completely tight. We’ll do the easy stuff, especially the dryer vent (it is clogged open – a fire hazaard as well as an energy leak.)

All this is to say even though I’ve got R15 in the walls and R30 in the attic, there’s still always money to be spent on energy savings. Do seal your windows, it isn’t expensive and makes the house less drafty, therefore more comfortable. And consider hanging some quilts on the north or west walls in order to add a bit a insulation through decoration.

And no, my furnace isn’t on either. We’re doing the window blind and extra sweater tricks for as long as we can too.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl October 9, 2008 at 12:40 pm

I’m the same way…I’m determined to hold out as long as humanly possible. We had a mild winter last year, set the thermostat at 67, and still had a month where the bill was $350. Sigh. So, I really, really want to put off turning the heat on until it’s absolutely miserable without it.


thenonconsumeradvocate October 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

By the way. That is NOT me, (nor is it my husband.) Just an illustration of a lovely thick sweater as worn by someone infinitely cuter and younger than I.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


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