So I’m headed to my friend’s house to learn how to do Facebook and Twitter because I have this new project that requires it, but I’m not very smart. When she comes to the door, Fallula, let’s call her, greets me in Uggs, sweats and a fleece and I think, but don’t say, “Good for you, girl. Good for you for embracing the I-work-from-home outfit.”
So she is schooling me on the ins and outs of Tweet comments when I notice a space heater by her desk. It’s then she tells me that, since she’s been working from home, their heating bill has increased by a whopping $150 per month. As a result, she and her husband, as an experiment, are trying to keep the house at 67 degrees during the day and increase it to 69 degrees at night. Hence, the Uggs.
As I am sitting there, when I should be thinking of Twittering, I am instead admitting to myself that I keep our house at 73˚F all day and all night. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like I need a little treat, I even kick it up to 74. And since I basically earn no income from being a writer, it might behoove me to save money in any way I can. Oh yeah, and the environment. Apparently, it needs saving.
So I take note of how I feel. As I sit there, in a mere 67 degrees, I am not cold at all. Not a shiver. Not a chill. Not a goosepimple.
I decide on the spot that I am going to copy their experiment. To acclimatize, I decide to start with 70 degrees the minute I get home. I spend the afternoon working on setting up said Twitter and Facebook accounts and am so into the process that I even have to take off my fleece, which, 74 degrees or not, I almost always have on when I write.
Now is the time to tell you that I am a person who is sensitive both to heat and cold. For example, I’ll wear my fleece and sweats while I write, but if I decide to vacuum or even fold laundry? It takes about two minutes before I’m too hot and the fleece has to come off. Similarly, if I am watching TV in the basement, the idea of not having a blanket on me is absurd; I’d freeze, yes, to sudden death otherwise.
My husband likes to say I have a “very narrow window of comfort,” which is accurate, though, when he says it, I have to wonder if he’s not speaking of more than just temperature.
Anyhoo, the first day at 70 goes great. I mean, I can actually hear the coins collecting in a jar instead of going toward the heating bill. I worked from the bed so my dog Fitz could sleep between my legs under a blanket.
The next day, I set up in the dining room, as my work involved taking a lot of notes. Fitz went to sleep in a sunbeam and Gabrielle, who had a snow day, slept peacefully upstairs. Around 10 a.m. it started to feel a little nippy, so I made myself some tea. By 11, I put a sweatshirt on over my fleece. By noon, I heated up my lunch extra hot and told myself burning my tongue was worth it. By 1, I was bone-deep chilled, the kind of cold that, every once in a while, makes your body spasm in a finger-in-light-socket way.
Around that time, Gabrielle woke up and came down to make some coffee. She glanced in my direction.
“Are you going out?” she asked.
“Because you’re wearing a jacket.”
By the end of the day, I had worked out on the elliptical machine simply so I could work up a sweat. Then I coupled that effort with a very hot 20-minute shower, which surely ate into my savings by increasing the water bill.
It’s embarrassing for a Manitoban to admit that she’s cold, as, 1), the response is always, “I thought you said you were Canadian,” and, 2), being tough as nails is essential to the cultural fabric of that province. So, I have persisted in my effort and am now down to 68 degrees. The first trick, I learned, is identifying the hot and cold spots of a house, as you would an oven or a barbecue. For example, right now I am in the basement bedroom where, yes, I am under the covers. Second is unabashedly employing the heat of your dog on your feet — even if that means bribing him with treats. Third is only doing work that doesn’t require a table.