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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brrr. Taking Frugal Living To A New Level

A few weeks ago, I posted about our efforts to keep our heating bills down which include using a timer on the thermostat, turning the temperature down several degrees during the day, not heating our bedroom, using space heaters, and wearing extra layers of clothing. While effective for us, they're unimpressive when compared to what some unusual people, profiled in today's New York Times "Home" section, are doing: they have chosen not to heat their homes...even in the dead of places like Colorado and up-state New York!

We're talking about freezing - really freezing, like as in below 32 degrees - inside. One young group living in a loft in New York City has created a yurt in the center of their space in an effort to keep warm. (FYI, you can actually buy a made-in-America yurt, but these seem to be most attractive to folks who run summer camps or who want to live off the grid.)

Motivation for deliberately deciding to live without heat range from a super thrifty attitude to passionately concerned about the environment to what appears to be a somewhat flaky approach to clearing one's head.

Mentioned early in the article is Deanna Duke (who is blogs as Crunchy Chicken) and her Freeze Yer Buns challenge. Deanna has asked her followers to set their thermostats to 55 degrees. That's chilly. Now, I'm pretty darned thrifty and very eco-conscious. But I just can't function well when the house is that cold. I admire Deanna and her followers who have accepted her challenge, but I'm just not going there.

How do you feel about this extremely thrifty and over-the-top green approach? Please share.


  1. NO, I can't do this. Our thermostat is usually at 60 (usually it is not on), unless it is raining here in CA, like today. Wet is the killer. I tried 55 degrees while living in Philadelphia, and I was usually at the public library or King of Prussia mall warming up.

  2. Admirable but brrrrrrrrrrr...

  3. Cynthia Waters EarleJanuary 21, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    Hi Dee,
    As you know as a real estate agent, there is a lot more to consider than saving a few dollars or conserving energy. For people who live in parts of the country that actually have winter, this is neither sane nor safe. In the long run all the frugality will be lost when your pipes freeze and you have a horrendous flood requiring considerable home repair and possibly causing extensive mold damage. Nothing says cozy like frozen water in your toilet :)

  4. The NY Times totally has misquoted me. I've never asked people to lower their temps to 55. I've merely suggested that people lower their thermostats a few degrees lower than what they are used to to save energy and CO2. If people want to lower it to 55, go ahead, but I won't be joining them :)

  5. Nadine - 55 in Philly must have been awful!
    Cindy - you're absolutely right. Pipes would surely burst with freezing weather. One of the folks profiled in the article says she keeps her faucets dripping and toilet running to prevent freezing...terrible waste of water.
    Crunchy - thank you for stopping by my blog. I'm sorry you were misquoted and I hope I haven't perpetuated that. I think your Freeze Yer Buns Challenge is great...and a one or two degree lowering can make such a big difference in energy usage. Keep up your good work...I'm a big fan.

  6. After college I was living at home with my parent's. My father would keep the themostat at 55 degrees. I got out of their house and into my own place faster than you could say "long johns."

  7. Scott - your Dad was very subtle in giving you the incentive to go out on your own!!! 55 is tough. Our bedroom often goes down to 59 during the night, and that's fine for sleeping. But can you imagine trying to use the computer when it's so cold - my fingers would be numb!