Round Two of The “No Heat Challenge”

by Katy on March 1, 2010 · 30 comments

The No Heat Challenge officially ended on November 1st, although I continue to keep the thermostat set low. And I’m now starting to have a day here and there when I can turn the furnace completely off. (I even kept it off for a full 24-hours the other day!)

Granted, I live in Portland, Oregon, a city known for chilly dampness rather than wind chill factor. Our daffodils are in full bloom and the sunny days are starting to come in clumps of two or three.

Which means it’s time for round two of The No Heat Challenge:

How soon can you start to keep your furnace off?

We all live in different climates, so this will be regionally dependent. Live in Oregon? Start turning your furnace off pretty soon. Live in the Mid-Atlantic region? Gonna’ have to wait awhile.

So throw on a fleece, brew a cup of tea, grab some wool socks, throw open the blinds and ready yourself for part two of The No Heat Challenge.

Because there is light at the end of the tunnel. This winter will end. I’ve seen the daffodils and I tell you, warm weather is around the corner.

Are you in for round two of the No Heat Challenge? Please add your name to the comments section below, even if you have to shovel through the snow to get there.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Sierra Black March 1, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I can’t do this, because I have a legal obligation to keep my thermostat at a certain temp for the little kids who come here for preschool.

That said, I have really complex feelings about the project. I admire the sentiment behind it, but I also know that when I’m feeling cold I become depressed, physically ill and way less functional than I’d like to be.

In other words, my best self is warm. And a warm me is better able to do the activist things I do well, like eating sustainably and writing and educating little kids.

I’ve long had a Thing about how people need to choose life changes they can enjoy and stick with. In that vein, I think this one might just not be for me.


Katy March 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm


We love you just the way you are — warm and toasty.




Tina March 2, 2010 at 12:39 am

One of my very favorite days of the year!


Lisa March 2, 2010 at 5:24 am

I was thinking about this last night. We heat with gas, and in the spring we turn off the heater and even turn off the pilot light until the fall. Ours is a simple wall unit so turning off the pilot is safe…don’t know about other types of gas heaters.

We aren’t there yet, but in a few more weeks we should be able to turn it off for the duration! I can’t wait. Gardening, softball, sandals, shorts, skirts (without tights). Oh, I am so ready….


Rebecca March 2, 2010 at 6:18 am

We are getting there in WI, but not quite. This week is supposed to be in the low to mid 30’s and sunny so the ice on our roof might finally melt. We still have several inches of snow to go yet, however.


Ashley March 2, 2010 at 6:32 am

It is going to be very soon here in Georgia! You would think perhaps even today except for the fact that is has decided to snow! Pretty heavy too! Always weird weather in March here!


Carla March 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

I could probably take it but my husband, uh uh. I keep it at 63º or even off in the daytime but about an hour before he is to get home I turn it up to 65. Even then he shivers and looks pitiful. And I have to admit, if the wind is screaming through it really feels cold.


Elizabeth L. March 2, 2010 at 7:37 am

It snowed in Alabama today too! This has been a really cold winter for those of us in the deep south who are used to wearing short sleeves by mid-February. It’s supposed to warm up this weekend and I’m hoping it stays that way!

We’ve been keeping the house between 64-65 during the day, and 63-64 at night when we’re asleep. It’s chilly, but I think we are all used to it now and loving that (slightly) lower gas bill!


Lindsay March 2, 2010 at 8:03 am

Spring certainly has started to show its face here in Portland, hasn’t it? Are you loving the cherry blossoms as much as me?

We’re at the mercy of our HOA for when the heat gets turned on and off. That said, we did turn some of our radiators off this past weekend because it was just too darn toasty for us. I think the HOA has the boiler on a modified schedule now, and will shut it down completely in April or May.


Katy March 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm


I am loving the everything blossoms!

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Kris-ND March 2, 2010 at 8:40 am

You have flowers??? Wow. I vaguely remember flowers growing in my yard…vaguely 😉

Here in ND, there is no real trend as to what kind of weather we will get, because March is the beginning of the transition season, and March-April can really fluctuate.

My local station’s meteorologist has been very accurate the last two winters, so if I go by his long-range forecast, then there will be some more below zero temps. That being said, I think there will be days I can turn the heater up a smidge in the early morning, and then turn it off for the day w/o the pipes bursting or the house resembling a walk in freezer! Yipee!!! That’s the best I can commit to…lol


Beth March 2, 2010 at 9:04 am

Rebecca in WI, I admire the fact that you’re even considering this. I was in Minneapolis, MN last weekend and the high was 36 with a low of 5. Yikes!

Our current apartment has heat included in the rent, so we’ve been spoiling ourselves with the thermostat at 70. However, we’re moving next week and will then pay our own PG&E, so the hit in the wallet will make us reform. We’re in California: we have no excuse not to!


Andrea March 2, 2010 at 9:16 am

Be careful to not let your house dip below 60 degrees…below that temperature, the air doesn’t hold moisture (very much) and it will condense on any cold surfaces, such as windows and uninsulated walls, potentially leading to unhealthy mold buildup; and if your home is well insulated but not well ventilated, there will be a lot more moisture in the air to begin with. (sorry my husband is a home energy efficiency professional and I hear all about this stuff all the time!)


Hiptobeme March 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

I blogged about you today!


Katy March 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Thanks. I do love my “Tightwad Gazette!”



Eleanor March 2, 2010 at 9:49 am

We set our thermostat for 62 at night, 68 in the morning and evening hours when we are both going to be home, and sixty five mid-day. My husband works part time, so he is home mid day on Mon, Wed, Fri; we ar both home usually mid-day on Sunday.

The reason we don’t go cooler afternoons and evenings: blood thinner medication for my husband. Even at 65 and 68 degrees he is cold, but has learned to put on an extra layer, and put a blanket on his lap for reading and watching TV. I could go lower, but where we are is a healthy compromise.


This Thrifted Life March 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

It has been a long, cold winter for those of us in the South. This is our first winter on propane, and we have been forced to come up with other heat sources as propane is just way too expensive for our budget right now. We invested $45 (and some Swagbucks Amazon gc’s–the total cost was actually around $60) in an oil-filled radiator heater, and it has been such a blessing! It used very little electricity and keeps our bedroom toasty warm all night long.


Deb March 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

Count me in. At my house I try to keep the heat at about 66 – 68 during the day when we’re home, and about 64/5 at night. I live in Maine, and we usually are still getting snow storms into the first few weeks of April. That being said, we’ll have some warm days tossed in there to remind us of what is coming. In the spring I love to turn the furnace off and open the windows to let some fresh air in for a couple of hours whenever Mother Nature obliges. I can’t wait to turn it off for the season, and try to hold off on flipping the furnace switch back on for as long as I can in the fall each year.


Charlotte March 2, 2010 at 11:27 am

I just tapped the maple tree in the frontyard today. Yes, it *will* be spring. In… oh… six weeks or so?

For me, the challenge right now is not to turn the heat on while the sun is shining. But at night it’s still very much a necessity.


southern gal March 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm

have not turned the heat on this winter.

apt keeps at about 60 and above (its 70 in my study right now) and never got below – due to ambient heat from basement (laundry room is below me) and apt above (they keep their heat up).


Melony March 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I will keep the heater off. Great challenge!


Lisa March 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Minimal heat here. We’ve kept it low all winter, so why change now? Actually we made it through an entire year and used only 200 gallons of propane. There are a lot of people who could stand to learn about the no heat challenge (or low heat challenge). My husband and I have volunteered the past two days at a government office that is currently providing emergency energy assistance for those who are out of propane or are in danger of having their electricity shut off due to non payment. It’s amazing to me how many people are in this situation.


Mrs. B March 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Oh Katy…we are outside of Seattle and I saw some beautiful purple tulips ( I believe ) coming up around here. That being said….I have actually had to open the windows and put on a tank top the last two days. The apartment we live in is small but gets over 70 degrees by just cooking dinner. We have individual electric heaters in the various rooms of our place and I love it. We only turned on the one in the master bedroom about three times this winter. The living room is the one we used the most and we hardly used it this winter. I am so happy that the first signs of spring are here. Enjoy your spring and turning those heaters off early.


Karen March 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm

We live in the Bay Area, California and it seems a day by day thing. We never have the heat set at more than 66 during the day (and it goes off at night), but the last few days I have been experimenting with not turning it on during the day at all. And one day it got warm enough (to my way of thinking) that I opened a window in the dining room. I telecommute, working at the dining room table mostly, so sometimes in winter I get such a claustrophobic vibe that I have to open a window NOW!

So anyway the other day I opened the window and it was open for maybe 20 minutes before people came home from work and school and complained–it’s cold in here, brr! Can we shut the window?! That was the end of my fresh air in March experiment. I bet sometime this month we will turn the corner and have the heat off for good.


ksmedgirl March 2, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I’m jealous. Probably won’t happen for at least another month in KS. And no spring flowers here yet either. 🙁 This winter I’ve kept the house at 64 when we’re home and 60 when we’re not and at night. I’m so ready for open window weather!


Marie-Josée March 3, 2010 at 5:58 am

We had a really mild winter in Quebec, which was great, but like Deb who lives in Maine, we can get snow right into April too. We keep the apartment toasty at 70-72%. Energy here is very cheap and greener; generated by hydraulic dams. No flowers here yet alas, but the air is warmer and the wind milder, so we too are beginning to feel the stirrings of spring!


Pat March 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm

We have kept our furnace at 58-60 for years now. We rarely get sick in the winter too. My sister says it because germs can’t live in our cool home, I just think we are tougher for living like this for so long. I do have an interesting aside however. We use propane to heat and our propane dealer WANTS us to use more. I talked with the deliver guy last week about this since it goes against everything that we are told by all other sources (dial down, conserve, etc). He said the propane company is in dire straits and starting with the next contract year we will be penalized (!) for using so little propane. Ridiculous.


Megan March 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm

First winter in my new place in New England, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to turn off the furnace. My guess is some time in April if we’re lucky, otherwise May.

I telecommute, and sit in front of a computer to work. I find I get chilly if the thermostat is set to 60°F, as my office, which is the coldest room in the house, will stay at 58°F. I use a woodstove in my office during my working hours to warm things up a bit and open the doors to other rooms to help heat those rooms a bit.

I can smell spring in the air, and most of our snow has melted. The last time I saw so much of our grass for three days running was in November.

I think my heat challenge will be when can I stop using the woodstove? As, that will tell me things are getting warmer. For now, I’m glad I have the wood to burn and can keep warm!


Deb March 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

In the spirit of the challenge, I’ve started keeping the heat at 64 when we’re home, and 60 while we’re at work and in bed. We’ll see how it goes (my housemate isn’t very impressed, and my daughter thinks I’m crazy!). :o)


ksmedgirl March 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I can’t believe it, but we’ve had mid to upper 50’s here the last few days, and I’ve been able to turn the heat off completely during the day. Those temps feel like heaven after a long cold winter. Yesterday our meteorologist said it was the warmest temp in 3 months. I’ll take it!


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