Here in the Great Central Valley the temperature will drop into the 20s for a dozen or so nights during the winter. During the day the temperature usually rises into the 40s or 50s, except when we are socked in with fog. On those days the highs may never get out of the 30s. I got to thinking, after spending the last two days in Southern California in a house heated to 75 with the outside daytime temperature in the 70s and the lows in the 50s. What was I thinking? How cold can we let it get before deciding it's too cold in our house? Yesterday morning, right before we left to head down south I turned the heater down to 63. When we got home today I turned the heater on for about an hour. I set it to 68.
We heat the house with propane and wood. The wood stove isn't too efficient. It's a 1970s Earthstove. It's got a fan to push the hot air into the house. It's works fine if I was just heating up the dining room and kitchen. If I have the thing blasting and using lots of wood then it will heat up about 1000 square feet of house to 70-75 degrees. Pretty good except the house is over 2000 square feet. My bedroom never gets the heat. In fact it's really cold in my room... and don't tell me it's because I don't have a spouse!
My bedroom has a cement floor and three sides of the room are outside walls. Only one side of the room is attached to the rest of the house and there's a closet and bathroom between the hall and the main part of my room. There's also a drafty outside door and two good windows that face to the north. It's just a cold room. I just checked the temperature with my Kestrel (a weather tool) and the bedroom is 58. My library, where I'm working now is 62, and the kitchen is 65. And the thermostat in the hall says it's 68. It lies!!!
For all who know me, I hate being cold. Even though the house is not kept warm (I don't want to pay the high cost of propane) I want to be warm. I'm usually found wearing a knit cap, a long sleeve shirt, a sweat shirt or knit vest over the shirt, and thermals of some sort under my pants.
OK, I'm rambling. At the beginning I wrote that I was wondering how cold we can let the house get. If TSHTF and I wanted to save the propane for cooking, it would last a long time if just for cooking and not heating the house or the hot water. But what about us? Can we stand not having heat? Would we eventually put blankets up to block off the dining room from the rest of the house just to keep that room toasty by using the wood stove? Would we set up a tent in the middle of the house to keep our body heat in an enclosed area?
I am going to have a two week experiment. I'm turning off the heat on Wednesday. No central heat, no wood stove. I wonder how cold the house will get? We do get sunshine coming in the windows during the day. Will the house stay in the 60s because of the heat coming off of the people and pets? Will it drop into the 50s? 40s? One good thing is that the home store food will stay fresher longer at the cooler temperatures! I'm going to save somewhere between $50 and $100 in propane!
Why not start now? We are having company tomorrow and Tuesday and while I'm up for the experiment, and the grand kids have no choice in the matter, I'm not going to treat our guests to the cold. Wednesday starts the chilling experiment.