Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NY Times - Chilled by Choice

Holy smokes! I'm in the NY Times again today. This time they are referencing my Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, but mostly talking about folks who use no heat.

I have to admit that I think people who live in sub-freezing and 15 degree temperatures are a bit off their rockers. But, either way, it's interesting to read their attitudes about the cold.

So, go check out the article! And come back and tell me what you think about going with no heat. Would you do it?

39 comments:

The Larsons said...

I would love to go without heat, really I would. But some days I have a hard time with even 68 degrees. Even when I'm bundled from head to toe and moving about I am so cold I get headaches from being so clenched. Lame, I know, I would never survive anywhere but here. We are doing what we can to reduce heat loss and thereby cut back on our energy consumption.

dee dee said...

I was so excited to see the reference to you - your real name and your blog name and your freeze yer buns challenge - in the NYTimes this morning. Good for you! I am actually working on a blog post about it as I write this!

Deb said...

Congrats on the plug in teh NY Times!

Absolutely!! I would go with out heat IF I lived on a Carribean Island.

Goign without heat in any of the northern states is muy loco. I live in northern MI, it's freezing here...I don't even want to think about not having heat. We keep our thermostat at 64 and that is too cold, but I'm too cheap to turn it up any higher, but too each their own I guess....

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

So cool! I have yet to get in a paper.
I love the article and those stories inspire me. We turn our temp down to 55 at night and 65 during the day. We will use our fire place as long as possible before we decide to turn up the heat. This year we bought a fireplace insert that helps us distribute heat more and our wood burns longer. The kids know the drill now when they are cold. Put on warm clothing, thick socks, comfy slippers (thanks to santa!) and drink some warm cocoa or tea.

Robj98168 said...

Not on your Tin Type. Would not do it.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I cannot go without heat. There is a difference between lowering your thermostat and adjusting and being miserable. Granted none of these people are admitting to being miserable, but they don't have my DH to contend with. WE have successfully lowered our night time temp to 56 degrees at night and I believe that by this time next winter we can go as low as 50 degrees (any lower and I chance pipes freezing). We are around 62 during the day and ideally I would like to keep it at 60 during the day.

Corinne said...

ITA with you. That is insane. The lowest I will go is 15 at night.

thesimplepoppy said...

Aaaannnddd no. I'd do this in a heart beat if I lived in the south and had a pellet stove or something. But I echo what TheLarsons said about getting incredibly tense when cold.

Condo Blues said...

Where I live we have snow and below zero wind chills. I appreciate modern heat and electricity and try to use it wisely. I go as low as 58 degrees during the day and reduced my use by 32%. Why isn't that good enough? Why do I have to forgo all modern heat to be considered environmentally conscious? Being perpetually cold isn't a clarifying experience for me or my family. I've done it I've camped during the winter. For awhile it's fun, but not any longer than a week or so. There is a trade off for these folks for as much as they are saving by not using heat, they are wasting in water because they have to leave their taps drip and toilet run to keep it from freezing. Isn't a happy medium story enough?

Kim said...

I live in Alaska. There is NO WAY I would live without heat. Not only would I freeze my ass off, but my pipes would probably freeze and burst too.

I grew up in Alaska. I do better in cold environments. I like to go out and play in the cold. I ski. I snowshoe. I run. I even camp in the snow and cold. But I draw the line at it being cold inside. I keep my house on the cool side, even in the winter (50-55 degrees is not uncommon.) But I just can't go colder than that when it's 30 degrees and colder (usually colder) outside all winter long. If I lived without heat, the temperature in my house wouldn't hover in the 30s-40s, it would be closer to 10s-20s...and colder for a few months a year.

I recognize at least two people in the article kept their place that cold, but I'm just not willing. Nor are my cats, for that matter. And either are my pipes. And since I rent, I can't force my landlord into installing pipe heaters. And I fail to see how letting my faucets drip is a good exchange. I know how to dress, even indoors, to deal with those temps. I even own the appropriate clothing and gear, but I just won't do it.

That being said, I'm moving to North Carolina in the fall for Grad School and am looking forward to never, ever turning my heat on while there. Though, I am terrified of the heat and humidity (remember, born and raised Alaskan) and am afraid I just might have to sub in a bit of AC in the summer in order to make it...

Olivia said...

Would I do this? NEVER!! At least, not willingly. I would spend most of the year utterly miserable and unproductive, shivering under a load of blankets and wondering why I was even alive.

I live in Canada - very cold.

We heat with wood - have a European wood cookstove that is hyper efficient - burns very little wood.

Just THINKING about being that cold depresses me.

Brad K. said...

The Larsons,

I cared for an 8-year old foster child in St. Louis some years ago. His winter coat was at his mother's place, and she neglected to get it to him - I was forbidden to contact her. Walking to school - from the car - one day he was clenched up and shivering and miserable.

So I asked, him, "Are you cold? Are you gonna *die*? I mean that as a serious question - is it so cold you could die? If not - then relax. Shivering and clenching up cause the limbs to stop getting blood, to keep the heart and body warm. If the cold is a threat, then stay clenched up. But if it isn't life-threatening - relax. Because relaxing and accepting that you are cold allows the blood to re-warm the arms and legs and your body gets back all the resources that, when not in survive-if-you-can mod, will create more body heat."

I am sure you know all the standard cold survival stuff - keep up the water, you cannot stay warm if your body doesn't stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol, and I don't think caffeine actually helps with the cold, either. Carbohydrates like potatoes, grains, pasta - these help provide what the body needs to stay warm. Limit drafts and moving air, on the bed it is amazing what throwing another sheet on top of the blankets will do. I learned that one in the Navy, on an aircraft carrier tied to the pier in Jacksonville, FL, with frost on the floor.

I have a small polyester "blankie" size blanket that a Southwest Airlines flight attendant gave me (long enough ago that she has surely retired by now!). It makes a really good shawl.

Rugs. Rugs under your feet, especially at the sink, and under the desk. Keeps a bit of padding under the feet, and keeps feet warmer when wearing shoes, slippers, or just socks. And slippers or shoes are *necessary* in a cold house.

Keep socks on at night. This was actually a heart-health suggestion, keeping the feet a bit warmer improves circulation in the legs at night, reducing load on the heart. Plus the feet aren't as cold.

Another psychological point - don't adjust the thermostat. Set it and forget it (maybe drop it a degree every other week or so). When you are cold, grab a glass of water, take a bit of walkabout, grab a sweatshirt or shawl or blanket - you have been motionless too long. Depending on dynamics of your setting, maybe snuggle with someone a bit - might be a couple of good things happen, there, as that someone feels needed and you get warmed, and feel warmer, too. I don't know if you can get cold, vacuuming the floor. Taking the carpets out to beat them, that could get cold, depending on the weather, but if you are still plugged in and vacuuming, and it is about that time, that could warm you up.

T'ai Chi. Some of the moves release a *lot* of warmth and energy. Even for an amateur, watched some one do it once type like me.

Allie said...

We don't use a heater at all here (it doesn't work, and I'm not concerned enough to call the landlord to have it repaired). Which, granted, is not normally impressive to anyone who doesn't live in Houston too.

However, even when we had that horrible period when it was sub-freezing for a few days, we still didn't use the heater. It really wasn't that big of a deal. Small space heater, closed doors, dripping faucet to keep the pipes from freezing and socks (tile floors) made it just fine.

Allie said...

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. I set a measuring cup under the dripping faucet and it measured ~8 ounces per 12 hours. This refilled the cat's bowl nicely.

Laura said...

Seattle had a very mild winter this year, so with that under my belt, yeah I could live here without heat. If you had asked me after all the snow last year, I might have given a different answer.

I like the article. Especially the quote from Ms. Gallagher: "And anyway, she pointed out, “we didn’t evolve to sit on a chair in a temperature-controlled environment staring at a screen all day.”"

Crunchy Chicken said...

If any of you are living in an unheated house voluntarily, let me know. ABC News (World News) would like to interview you for a piece they are running this weekend...

Allie said...

I'm living in an unheated house voluntarily. I live in Houston though, so I don't know how interested in that they'd be.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I mentioned you Texas folks and I think they are looking for something more "dramatic".

Allie said...

Lol, that's kind of what I figured. Our 10 days a year of below freezing just isn't that exciting to anyone but us.

My only regret is that the cold didn't happen AFTER school had started, since it seems just about every educational institution was closed. Then I'd have time to do my homework. Though I suppose if I wasn't blogging I'd have time anyway. ;)

Billie said...

I am just not that interested in being cold all the time. I can't fall asleep if I am cold - heck I can barely fall asleep when I am warm. I also have arthritis in my hands so if they get super cold - it is very painful.

I am keeping the house at 66 degrees all day/night. I could probably go a little colder but my husband would revolt. He already is revolting - I have had to turn down the heat a couple of times already this winter after he surreptitiously turned it up on me.

I do my best given our personal circumstances but I have no interest in being extreme.

Maria said...

Congrats on being in the Times, but no way could I live like that. I took your challenge and our home does not go above 60 degrees except on Sundays (when my husbands 98 year old Grandmother comes over and she needs it warmer). So on Sundays, I put the temp up to 68 and start a fire for her and she loves it.

Greenpa said...

Hm. Looking at the photos in the Times- ain't none of those folks living "without heat". Electric space heaters! Woodstoves! Bull.

It used to be, just a few years ago, that if you lived south of the Yangtze in China, it was ILLEGAL for you to heat your house. China simply decided- we just don't have the energy to do this- and so banned it. Back in the days of neighborhood Party dynamics, with cranky people spying for the Party constantly, it was enforced, too.

The Times should be absolutely astonished to learn that China south of the Yangtze did not die in a cold snap, nor did culture come to a crashing halt.

Somewhere floating around on my computer is a photo emailed to me by "John" (actually Jiang) of himself, his pretty wife, and their new baby, inside their lovely new home- all bundled up in down jackets, scarves, etc.

With perfectly happy smiles all around.

lene said...

I wouldn't voluntarily go without heat entirely, no. We live in Iowa, and even if the discomfort of being in freezing temps inside the house weren't enough to dissuade me from doing without heat, the hassle of trying to avoid burst plumbing pipes would do the trick. I don't mind at all keeping the temps quite low and bundling up, but voluntarily putting ourselves into a situation where we'd be in danger of screwing up our plumbing just isn't worth it to me. If TSHTF, though, I have no doubt we'd be able to get by. Just wouldn't enjoy it much.

motheralice said...

Congrats on the mention in the Times! I probably wouldn't go without heat voluntarily, but we'd survive if we HAD to.

Brad K. said...

@ lene,

I think there is an opportunity here, for serious exploration of "freeze-hardy" shelter and homes.

That is, a place to live that can withstand regular freezing, without damage, and that is build (as houses used to be) to support heating individual rooms. The radiator valves had pretty much corroded into inoperability in the 1960's, but hot water and steam heat used to *assume* that only a portion of the rooms in a building would be heated. Isolating rooms, draining heating lines - that used to be normal building operation. The nearest equivalent today is the electric baseboard heater (Yeah! Keep them coal-fired power plants at capacity! Buy an electric car or three to charge up, too!) or wood stove. Or kerosene heater.

Draining the water lines for winter, that could well be done with the addition of a few isolating valves and draining faucets, and maybe running an extra line where needed.

Nelson, in Iowa, makes a freeze-proof horse waterer for setting out in the pasture. The Nelson waterer is installed in such a way that no energy is added to keep the water flowing, it has a valve and doesn't run continuously. Surely someone can apply technology and thinking things through, to make a house that garnishes geothermal energy, passively, enough to protect plumbing from freezing.

And thermal mass and insulation in internal walls, to promote forming heat zones inside. And retrofitting mobile homes and suburb cookie-cutter homes to adapt them, too.

Aydan said...

I recently came back to an apartment in a reasonably cold climate that had been vacant for about a month, with no heat. I expected it to be quite cold. It was 66° F. I haven't run the heat all winter, except once when I was sick. I'm beginning to be increasingly puzzled about my apartment's heat retention capabilities; though, sadly, I'm probably just forcing the heaters in the adjacent units to work harder to compensate for my "cool spot," and not really reducing the total energy use.

However, I'm not heatless either-- I microwave rice packs when I feel chilled.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Phoenix so it wouldn't be a huge deal to give it a try. We routinely have lows in the 40s and a typical winter will see a few 30s. However, I have a 14 year old tropical bird, so it ain't gonna happen. On the flip side of this coin, the Phoenix paper ran an article a summer or two ago about one of their writers that went through a Phoenix summer with no AC. And no, I ain't gonna try that either. The NYT article led me here Ms. Chicken, and I'll try to check your blog now and then. I'm slowly buy surely getting greener. Cheers! Nightlifejitters in Phx.

Greenpa said...

Brad K- the Nelson horse waterers all use electricity to heat the water to prevent freezing- it's not passive. They DO have it well insulated, and a thermostat on the water so it doesn't just run continuously like old ones- but if your electricity goes out- your water will freeze.

Which is NOT to say you're wrong about improving use of passive heat- We're in the middle of building two livestock shelters- both are dug well into hillsides for earthshelter. More expensive than slapping a pole shed on top of the ground; but we may try to actually calculate the savings in feed costs- it's likely going to be huge.

Up-front costs are always more expensive; which is always going to be a problem.

lene said...

What we've been looking at is some sort of solar water heater set-up. I don't know much about the details, myself, as Jeff is the one looking into it. We'd certainly have to do something, though, as this house (built in 1900) has problems with the plumbing (and wiring) as it is now. We're always in repair mode, here.

coldhousejournal said...

45º in the bedroom this morning... 50º in the living room... we're still enjoying the "lifestyle"! (even if we do light a fire in the wood stove now and then). Spring's coming, though, and all the fun will end!

(And I agree, some of the other folks in the Times article are waaaay tougher than us.)

Allie said...

Congratulations! That's fantastic!

I keep the heat down pretty low when I'm home during the day - I bundle up and take little jumping jack breaks, etc. But my husband just doesn't have the patience for being cold. So we turn it up when he's home. It's a good happy medium, because I do enjoy the luxury of a little more warmth (and I'm still only talking 68), but I'm fine keeping it much lower when I'm the only one home.

Brad K. said...

Greenpa,

Sorry to hear about that. The video Nelson sent me a couple years ago was for a passive-only waterer. They used a 10' cement, open-air tile dropped into the dirt, bringing the water line through a hole (below frost line), and up - the warmth from depth was enough to keep the water bowl, line, and valve from freezing.

My Dad had a kerosene water heater one winter for the hog tank - a small reservoir with a very small valve, allowed kerosene to drip down steel tube to a rectangular space (big enoug to set a cement block on, to keep the thing submerged). The kerosene dropped into a soup can of small rocks, where it quietly burned. Smoke rose up a short chimney. I cannot find such a thing today. I wonder if salad oil would work?

But that gets me back to a couple of technologies I really would like to have - how to tun sunflowers or soybeans into vegetable oil. Canning beets and peas, that is all over the internet, just like making jams and preserves. I also want to know how to raise and process sugar beets - I am currently using the shreds with vegetable oil for horse feed, and the prices keep going up.

cindy24 said...

Congrats. I was going to try no heat this winter (which being in So Cal would sent the heat down to maybe 56/57 at night and 63-65 during the day). I have an injured puppy that i don't want to get cold and have set the heat at night to 63 and off during the day. While certainly not extreme I hope to be able to have no heat next winter.

Erika said...

Congrats on makin' the Times!

We have our house under 60 all winter (this winter, due to a minor issue with our furnace, it was down in the mid 40's for almost a week 'til we took care of it), and never use AC in the summer. I'd be more than happy to attempt a PNW winter w/o gas heat (or space heaters, but not without ANY form of heat - especially on things like plumbing and for cooking...

Several years ago (10+), Western Washington had a major cold snap, my family was out of power for more than a month, and at the time, our heat was electric w/supplemental wood. For the entire month, we used the wood-burning stove to heat, do some cooking on, and to dry clothes near. It was just fine by almost everyone; There was snow/ice on the ground outside, and the front room was usually between 60 and 75; the bedrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms were another story.

I think IF I were to go without non-wood heat again, it would have to be in the right place - our house doesn't have a way to block off the room that has the fireplace, nor is the fireplace really meant to heat the house - apparently, it's a "for pretty" fireplace, with all the smoke AND heat going up the chimney. I think I'd have to have those living with me on the same page too - it's hard enough keeping our house under 60 w/ my dear hubby's moanin', groanin', and whinin'. :-P

--Erika

debra said...

it cracks me up that when we choose to go without heat through the winter (granted, like allie i live in houston so our winters are rarely anything to complain about), my neighbors give me the "poor you" looks and talk about how hard we must have it. look, if spending time cuddled under a blanket with my daughter and the dog, reading stories and enjoying cups of hot cocoa and tea is having it hard... the kids all know that come october we drag out the extra blankets, they pull their mattresses into my room and we start sleeping in one room with the dogs. is there a down side? my bathroom is like a freezer and showering for work is no fun. other than that, we spend more time together and outdoors (the same as when we leave the a/c off in the summer) and take part in more activities than when we used to keep the house at 72 degrees year round. the upside? i'm not paying through the nose to heat the house and we can better use that money the rest of the year.

Allie said...

Debra,

We get the same looks of pity, and people are constantly asking me why we don't make the landlord fix the heater (he doesn't even know it's broken). I'm happy to save the money!

My boyfriend is still not on board with a completely A/C-free summer (though I'm on board with not enduring another year of summer electric bills), but last year I got him up to 80 (from 76 the year before), so this year I'm shooting for 84 or so. We have a couple fans so it should be fine.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Ask ABC to interview anyone who lives on the street CC. I work with some that have and I don't know how they survive at all, mind you, some don't.

Joules said...

@ Allie, we're in Houston in a similar situation. Our electric bill was *insane* in December - figured something is wrong with the heater or our rental house is old and just that leaky (which is possible). So we ended up lazy and just never called to have the heater looked at. It's been an interesting experiment... jumping jacks and hot tea in the evening seem to work, keeping a small dog at the foot of the bed at night helps, too. It *sure* has made me appreciate the great weather we've had this weekend. Guess it's all relative - spring is going to be extra-awesome this year.

Allie said...

Joules,

I'm with you about the hot tea, though usually I have it in the morning when it's coldest. I can't stand exercise though, so on the very coldest days I just shower the night before, plunk my clothes for the next day under the covers with me, and I change in bed. It's much more comfortable than the horror of cold tile floors!

I can't wait for spring, though I"ll be sad when summer comes along. That heat is just something I'll never get used to.

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