When I was an undergraduate, I spent my upper class years living in an off-campus apartment with a bunch of buddies. The flat was one of three in a big, old rambling house with lots of character. We loved the fire place with the built in bookcases and the big front porch, but the draftiness made heating a challenge, as did our lack of unity on what a reasonable indoor temperature should be.
The roommates didn't argue about it. Rather, we engaged in passive agressive thermostat wars, with each roommate secretly turning the thermostat up or down as he or she saw fit. I fell solidly into the camp that was constantly turning the heat DOWN. I abhor the practice some people have of heating their homes to the point that they can be comfortable wearing shorts in the wintertime. Put on a freaking sweater, already. I am wearing two right now.
So I was thrilled to stumble upon the Freeze Your Buns Challenge over at Crunchy Chicken. Basically, the idea is that participants will pledge to lower their thermostats this winter. People aren't being asked to literally freeze, just to think about their energy consumption, and to try to reduce it. Even one degree makes a big difference, and it is great to see so many people excited to participate.
We have a rule in our house that we don't turn on the heat before November. Last year, we succumbed on November 2nd, but it was partially just to make sure the furnace in our new home actually worked. This year we lasted a little longer: it was November 6th when I arrived home from work to discover that SodaBoy had turned on the heat. The very next day, we had the first snow of the season.
Our house has a programmable thermostat, which is awesome, because we can't forget to turn the heat down at night. Last year, I set it to 62 degrees during the day, and 56 degrees at night. Technically, I am not sure I am participating in the challenge correctly, because I haven't lowered the thermostat per se. But I did go into the program and dramatically reduce the number of "day" hours. We are dropping to 56 earlier in the evening, and kicking it up to 62 later in the day.
Even wearing long underwear around the house, layering the sweaters, drinking lots of hot tea, and huddling under blankets when reading or watching tv, I am not sure we can go lower than 62 in the evenings. I am tempted to try for a lower temperature at night though. I often wake up at night too warm, so I am not worried about comfort. My concern is that the pipes could freeze.
Is there a safe method for determining how low one can safely turn the heat without bursting a pipe?