Archive for the ‘winter’ Tag

Drinking Water in Winter   Leave a comment

One of the things about living in a house where the thermostat is set to 60 degrees F is that you learn what works to keep you from being too cold. One such thing is the importance of drinking water. During the summer we all know that we need to drink plenty of water to help us feel cooler, and so that our bodies’ cooling systems can work. It’s less obvious that drinking water in the winter can help to stay warm. I’m not talking about hot beverages here, I’m talking about any temperature of liquid.

The realization came after lots of self observation, and then experimentation. Some days I felt really cold, others weren’t so bad, even though the house temperature and probably the effective temperature (accounting for drafts, etc.) were the same. But when I felt really cold and then drank a lot of water (cold tap or room temperature water), I started to feel more comfortable. This was most apparent in extremities like fingers and toes.

Not being well-studied in anatomy and physiology I can only offer conjecture as to why this would be the case, but I’ll give it a shot. My guess is that when the body is not fully hydrated, blood circulation is not as efficient and so transfer of heat throughout the body is not as efficient. After all, cold fingers are used as a symptom of poor circulation, like for Raynaud’s disease.

So if you’re like me and can’t manage to finish a cup of hot tea at home before it gets cold, drink it anyway knowing that it’ll help you keep warm. Although, holding a nice hot cup would be much more pleasant.

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Posted February 17, 2011 by mayakey in food, health

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Ecstatic at 64 Degrees   1 comment

This weekend has, in once sense especially, been an absolutely awesome weekend. The temperature of our house has not dropped below 63 degrees! I actually did little dances of joy a few times when I walked by the thermostat. Why is 63 degrees significant? Because our thermostat is set to 60 degrees (55 during the day on weekdays, it’s a programmable thermostat), so it never turned on all weekend long. That is despite outdoor temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s and lots of clouds. We haven’t even winterized the house yet! In our previous house the heater would have been on almost constantly during a weekend like this. The highs over the next couple of days are not forecast to reach 50 degrees and there is still a good chance of more rain, so we’ll have to see if we can keep the heater off with an ambient high below 50 degrees.

I realize most people got to “our thermostat is set to 60 degrees” and choked. But really, it’s not that bad. My husband and I have an agreement since we have opposite temperature ranges. He gets uncomfortably hot easily, and I get cold easily. So in the summer he controls the temperature and sets it as high as he can tolerate, and in the winter I control the temperature and set it as low as I can tolerate. In the old house I was stuck paying over a hundred dollars a month to heat a house to 65 degrees, so I refused to set the thermostat any higher than that. When I lived by myself I was literally non-functional below 65 degrees, and my finger joints always ached. Since my husband moved in with me several years ago I found that I could decrease the set temperature and still be comfortable. I’m not entirely sure why another person’s presence makes 60 degrees feel like 65 degrees alone, but it does for me.

My coping strategies for a cold house are 2-3 clothing layers including at least one sweater/sweatshirt, wool mules with a cork sole, a wool blanket on the sofa, 3-4 blankets on my side of the bed, and really hot showers at night before bed. At least in my opinion, none of those things inconvenience me. Since I love cuddling up under a blanket I would be doing some of them no matter what the set temperature. After a while you get used to the low temperature.

I would like to set a challenge to anyone to lower their thermostat setting by a couple of degrees this winter. Leave it lower for at least a month to give yourself a chance to get used to it. You might surprise yourself. I’m not saying that you’re going to like 60 degrees, or even 65 degrees, but find what your lowest comfortable temperature is. There is a certain magic to living seasonally, and by that I mean actually experiencing each season and not just watching it go by without experiencing it.

Posted November 22, 2010 by mayakey in energy use, home

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Winter Heating Review   3 comments

Spring is here in Sacramento, and now I can look back at the winter season and how we did on gas usage this winter. Compared to last year, we used a lot more gas in December and January, less gas in February, and a little more in March. Honestly, I’m surprised our gas usage wasn’t even higher. We knew we would use significantly more gas in December than last year because this year my mother came here for Christmas, whereas last year we left town for a week and turned the heater off. Compared to two years ago, when Christmas was also in Sacramento, our gas usage was on slightly higher this year. I think that the main reason for the higher gas usage was the fact that in previous years the interior wall separating the two halves of the duplex was heated on the other side, whereas this year the other side was vacant and unheated. Also, we want to move out so badly that we didn’t have the heart to update our weatherization.

Instead of updating the weatherization, we dropped the thermostat again. Previously, when I lived alone, I could not set the thermostat below 65 degrees F, or I was too cold to function. After my husband moved in, we found that we could easily drop the thermostat to 62 degrees F before I was non-functional. So this year I challenged myself and we set the thermostat to 60 degrees F. (We have an agreement that I control the temperature in the winter since I get cold easily, and my husband controls the temperature in the summer since he doesn’t handle hot weather well.) Amazingly enough, I did fine! We added a blanket to my side of the bed, for a total of four blankets, and that kept me warm at night. And I had my sweaters, blankets, and wool mules to keep me warm-ish during the day. It helped that my husband does the dishes usually now, so I am no longer immersing cold hands in colder water every evening. I cannot really explain how I seemed to do better this year with the thermostat at 60 degrees compared to last year with the thermostat at 62 degrees, though.

Another interesting side effect of dropping the thermostat to 60 degrees was actually decreasing hot water usage. Usually in the winter I am so cold that when I shower I use 100% hot water. I know it is not good for my skin, and numerous times I have tried to make myself use less hot water with no success. This year, though, I had to turn on the cold water during my showers. I guess that I acclimated so well to the decreased air temperature, that I just couldn’t take the pure hot water showers any more. Mind you, I still took really hot showers, they just weren’t as hot as in years past.

What will we plan on doing next year? Well hopefully next year we will be in a house that does not have single-pane aluminum-frame windows and sliding glass door, and that maybe has some insulation. We anticipate using SIGNIFICANTLY less gas in the new house because it can’t possibly be worse to heat than the dump where we live now. But what temperature will we set the thermostat to? Maybe 60 degrees again, because while it was tough at times, I did okay. If the new house does have better windows and insulation then it won’t feel as drafty, too.

Posted March 22, 2010 by mayakey in home, resource use

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