Wrap Up of No Heat Challenge, Plus a New Article

by Katy on November 16, 2009 · 2 comments


The No Heat Challenge ended on November 1st, and we are now embracing the full use of our lovely, lovely furnace. Because Portland, Oregon has been wet, rainy and cold.

Did I mention the rain?

However, don’t start thinking that the end of the No Heat Challenge saw uscranking up the furnace to 70° all the while prancing around in shorts and halter tops. The end of the challenge ushered in the setting of our programmable thermostat to a tropical 64° during the day and 57° at night. This may still sound chilly, but the only time I’m cold is when I’m sitting completely still for an extended period. And frankly, that is the prefect time to grab a warn throw blanket anyway.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger ran a story today titledNJ Households Compete in Challenges to Keep Thermostat Off in Winter. The author, Kelly Heyboer interviewed me for the article, and I kept having to correct her that The Non-Consumer Advocate was not conducting a contest, but a challenge. Big difference, as I would never want people keeping their home cold simply to win some random prize. My thinking was to get people out of their unconscious routine, and be deliberate in how they heat their homes.

Comfortable at 70°, then how about 67° or even 64°?

One point I made with Heyboer, (which didn’t make it into the article) was that we have to be careful not to pat ourselves on the back too enthusiastically for keeping our furnaces off. It is from a place of privilege that we can make these decisions. There are many people who do not enjoy the luxury of choice with how high to set the thermostat. Heating a house is expensive and many people simply cannot afford to both heat a house and also pay for life’s expenses.

I grew up in an enormous house that was impossible to keep warm without breaking the bank, and I hated it. My friends didn’t want to come over and I was able to see my breath inside, which angered my teenage self-righteous self. I don’t want to inflict that experience on my children. The key is to find the happy medium.

Here is an excerpt from the article that includes my interview:

“People are definitely examining their regular habits,” said Katy Wolk-Stanley, the Oregon-based blogger behind The Non-Consumer Advocate, a popular, frugal-living website.

Wolk-Stanley issued a “no heat challenge” to her readers in September, drawing dozens of comments from readers around the nation. The mother of two said she was inspired by her efforts to lower her thermostat last year, which resulted in a savings of several hundred dollars over the course of the winter.

This year, Wolk-Stanley joined her readers in the no heat challenge and kept the furnace off. Wolk-Stanley said her breaking point came one morning a few weeks ago when her husband woke up and checked the thermostat in their poorly insulated 1914 house.

“He yelled up, ‘It’s 50 degrees down here!’” Wolk-Stanley said. “When you’re sitting there thinking ‘my nose is cold,’ that’s too much.”

Are you keeping your house colder this year than in years past? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley November 16, 2009 at 6:54 am

Still going strong here in Georgia! Haven’t touched the heat yet and it doesn’t look like we will til after Thanksgiving. It’s just a little chilly getting up in the morning! When we do turn on the heat we will hopefully keep it in the low 60s. This is our first winter in this house so we don’t know how low we can go!


Jenn H November 16, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Just so you know the wordpress site is not redirecting to this site. I think it was yesterday because I landed over here from my bookmark but today I had to look at the links from the construction post to find you.


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