Thursday, August 26, 2010
Fall Thermostat Challenge
I have a love/hate relationship with my house thermostat and all the heating and cooling equipment it runs. On the one hand, hey, I've read The Long Winter; I know that without central heat I could be spending my winters sitting around the fireplace wrapped in quilts, praying for an early spring. On the other hand, every time the heat or air kicks on, part of me thinks I should get back to work because there's a bill a-comin'.
Avoiding running either heat or air was easy this spring. One day, it was warm enough to make it through with just passive solar heat and a nice pair of fleece socks, and I turned off the heat and never looked back. Even on a couple of really chilly mornings, I felt like I could bring on summer just by refusing to turn the heat back on, and I opened the west and south facing blinds, put on a sweater, and said that summer was here whether the outside temperature knew it or not. I made it a total of 49 days (7 whole weeks) running neither heat nor air.
Fall is trickier for me. In the first place, seasonal allergies make it difficult for me to throw open the windows while everything alive is busy throwing pollen, ragweed, and mold into the air. Secondly, I have no desire to mentally rush the onset of winter and sweat my way through the last few weeks of summer, waiting through the end of air conditioning season and going straight to a delayed heating year. Finally, and this is one of those individual things that makes you crazy about your own house, but our master bedroom is the great heat collector of the whole house. This is great in January, when a load of laundry in the laundry room downstairs can take the chill off the bedroom for several hours, in spite of the fact that my night time house heat is set at 55 degrees. On the other hand, this means that we supplement that room with a window air conditioner in the summer, because that extra 5-10 degrees makes a huge difference in that room in July.
All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that today, I turned the whole-house AC off for an unseasonably cool day, and I don't plan to turn it back on until night (when I need to cool that bedroom). So, here is my challenge for myself (and you, if you'd like to play along):
The Fast, Cheap, and Good Fall Thermostat Challenge
1. Starting Monday, September 6 (Labor Day), put away your white shoes and get out a sticky note. We are going to track the amount of time we can keep both the AC and the heat off, until the day that we can stand it no more and turn the heat on until spring.
2. Tallies will be kept in hours. I will probably be able to turn off the AC for 10-12 hours at a time during the day and live off the cool air that accumulated at night. You may be able to stand turning off the AC at night and opening a window. It is all up to your comfort threshhold and your allergies. Remember, we're saving money and resources here, but not at the expense of our health and sanity!
3. Single room electric heating and cooling devices, like fans, window air conditioners, and space heaters, are allowed, but only in one room at a time. (That is, no fair turning off the whole-house air and turning on 5 window units.) Non-electric options, like open windows and fireplaces, are strongly encouraged, as are passive re-captures of heat like venting a drier indoors or catching up on your baking.
4. I will keep you updated with periodic tallies of my hours, and I encourage you to do the same, either in the comments section of this blog or the comment section on the Hilltop Communications page on Facebook. I will let you know when I give up and turn on the heat for good. For those of you in more southern parts of the country, I expect you will be able to post when you turn the AC back on early next spring. I love stories like this, so share them. Northerners, I know you won't have as long a heat-free season, but that is OK. We are all doing what we can.
Are you ready? Let's give those thermostats -- and wallets -- a well-deserved fall vacation!
Posted by Jennifer Lorenzetti at 4:53 PM