"If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer."
~Sigmund Wollman, quoted by Robert Fulghum, Uh-Oh, 1991
It all started back in January when I noticed that my son hiked up the thermostat in the house to a whooping 24°C. For some time I didn't even realize what was happening, I would simply take my sweater off every evening because the house all of a sudden seemed very warm. In my absent-mindedness, I didn't stop to think why it was getting so warm.
When I realized what was happening I went on full on rampage to reduce our dependence on heat and hydro. Our house is not a small one and it takes a lot of resources to heat and light it all. And why should we? We should only use as much as we really need. Period.
I remember when I was young and sometimes complained about feeling chilly in our apartment in the winter, my parents always told me to put a sweater on. We were not rich, far from it actually and my parents had to pay for electricity and heat. The more we used, the more we had to pay. It was therefore reasonable to try and conserve as much as possible.
It wasn't until we immigrated to Canada that I came face to face with lifestyles where usage of hydro and gas was included with rent costs and therefore financially it made no difference if one was frugal or down right wasteful. And in such a society, we have grown to be ignorant, wasteful and most of all weak.
We pumper ourselves silly, throw money at everything whether we have the said money or not, and when the real adversity happens where money can't make a difference, we suffer so much more.
When I decided to reduce the heat I didn't do it drastically. Well, except maybe for the evening setting which I took right down from 24°C to 21°C. The rest of the thermostat time I reduced the temperature in the house by 1 degree only. Even with 1 degree reduction we could feel the chill, but then the amazing thing happened.
After only few days of decreased temperature in the house my body adjusted and I found myself removing a layer of clothing. My kids adjusted too.
So I turned it down another degree. And the same thing happened.
I was able to get our house temperature to 19°C throughout the day and night and 18°C on sunny days. I found that the nights felt so much more cozy with the cool room and warm blankets on my bed. Today no one complains and I no longer wear three layers of clothing I did at the beginning of this experiment. I have grown accustomed to this temperature and I'm very comfortable with it. Kids are not complaining either.
Some parts of the house are warmer than others and we've learned to take advantage of that. My office for example is a small room with a computer and a big window and it heats up very quickly and stays that way. Family room has a gas fireplace that can be turned on a windy day for an hour or two. If it's sunny outside and I want to read a book I will pick a sunny location instead of hiking up the thermostat and sitting in the coldest corner of the room just because I like it there. Kind of like a cat who knows how to utilize available heat source, soaking up the sunspot or sitting on top of the vent when the hot air is blowing.
When Angelina's birthday arrived I turned the thermostat back to 21°C for a day and I could feel the heat immediately. It was okay but I didn't find it necessary anymore. Some of my guests on the other hand found it too cold. Looks like we have some delicate tropical specimens in our family. 21°C after all is a late spring/summer temperature and when those sort of temperatures arrive we rejoice, go outside and bask in the heat. How is it that inside our homes the same temperature proves too cold? I think our mind is playing tricks with us.
We are all very adaptable creatures and our bodies can adjust to the environment we are living in quite easily. Our attitude is the driving force in that adjustment however. Don't treat yourself like a fragile orchid when you're living in the cold climate. Don't let your mind win. Tell your mind to shut up and push your body a little bit to see what it can handle. It could be good for the environment, your psyche and your wallet.