My plan was to not heat the house for a good length of time - perhaps forever. Well, that didn't work out the way I planned. From the time I turned the heat off in the house near the end of December until a couple of days ago we didn't have any heat on at all: no propane central heat, no wood stove. Of course it helped that I was out of town for a week! Usually it doesn't really get too cold around here. All was fine with the no heat experiment until we had almost record lows in the low 20s. The house only got up to 56 during the day.
I had enough of wearing thermals under my clothes, a hat, and sometimes even a jacket while in the house during the day. I got cold. If it's not at least 80 I'm cold. It was starting to affect my working and since I get paid to work and I wanted to work at home rather than at the office I really needed to be able to work, not freeze. So I turned on the heater and got the house up to 67. I turned the heat off after that. Yesterday when we had everyone over for dinner I put a fire in the woodstove. The fire kept the house nice and toasty. In fact when I got up this morning the house was still in the high 60s.
We didn't do a good job trying to conserve heat during this experiment. If we really needed to not heat the house I probably could have kept it warmer. I can cover all the windows from the inside of the house with plastic. I could do a better job blocking cold air that comes into the house from the lousy design of the heating system that's housed in the mud room. I could have blocked the heating vents that run through the attic.
I was researching adding a greenhouse room to the front of the house. The part of the house I would do this to has a U shape. The garage is on one side, across the back is the family room, and on the other side is the living room. The open side of the U faces to the south. I've read that if you build a greenhouse using heavy plastic sheeting you can heat up the greenhouse enough to open the windows and doors into the house and warm up the house. I don't know of anyone who has anything like this. If you know of someone ask them about it, ok? Or if you have a greenhouse how much warmer does is stay during the winter? Does something like this seem feasible?
I'm not happy about failing this experiment. Why? Because if TSHTF I certainly don't want any added stresses. Being cold at home would be an added stress. (I know those of you who really live in cold weather are probably laughing your heads off, but I get cold easily. That's why we aren't moving to the American Redoubt!) The biggest plus we get while preparing is taking as many stressors off the table by planning ahead. I know I could have done things differently to keep the place warmer. But I still suspect that at some point I would have to break down and use the wood stove if the smoke wasn't going to be an issue announcing to the world that our house is a house of prepared people.
We don't have enough wood trimmings from the trees on this property to heat the house full time but we probably have enough to deal with a dozen really cold days. If I cut wood from the bug-out property I'd be able to be self supporting on our wood for heating.
I'm starting the experiment again. No heat but I'm still not going to be reinforcing the windows or doors. I wonder how long I will be able to hold out before I get too cold. I'll use the wood stove. If I'm gone for any length of time or if the house gets really cold I may even turn the propane heater back on just to take the chill off. Best of all, I'm saving money on propane.