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If you start shivering when your indoor temperature hits 65 degrees, brace yourself; this news will be a shock to your system. According to the New York Times, some Americans are living without any heat at all -- and they're doing it by choice.

One of these people, Maine resident Daniel F., lives in a house with no thermostat, no heating system, no radiator, and no furnace. The house's average indoor temperature lingers around 52 degrees.

Daniel explains, "It all started in October '08 as just a few pals goading each other to see who could wait the longest to turn on their furnace." After the friends made it past Thanksgiving without heat, Daniel grew accustomed to the colder temperatures and decided to launch Cold House Journal, a blog in which he chronicles his controversial lifestyle. He notes, "It [the blog] was a way to focus my thoughts and maybe inspire a few others. Also, as long as I was posting things, my parents knew that I wasn't in a hypothermic coma."

Of course, you're probably wondering why anyone would choose to live in such conditions. Although Daniel would like to think that conserving energy, minimizing CO2 emissions, and saving money are enough to make his heat-free life worth considering, he personally sees his lifestyle choice as an experiment in answering the more basic questions of human happiness and adaptability.

For other cold-weather-bloggers, living heat-free is an eco-minded effort to reduce fuel usage. Washington resident and blogger Crunchy Chicken (who also founded the "Freeze Yer Buns" initiative) lives with minimal heat, and often gives tips on how to keep the thermostat low, such as utilizing heating pads, fingerless gloves, and even pets. Her average indoor temperature? "I'm wimping out this year and pledging for 65 [degrees during the] day and 58 [at] night," she writes on her blog.

Of course, to each their own. As a homeowner, I suppose one has the right to keep the temperature as low as they please. But what about guests?, I wondered. "We don't really have rules, but if we did, we'd bend them for guests," says Daniel, who lives with his girlfriend, Jordan. "We let them sit on the heating pad, and if they're here overnight, we even let them have a space heater in the guest room."

So, is this a permanent decision? "We do frequently get asked when this is going to end." Daniel admits. "I'm not at all sure. It's getting easier, not harder. If anything, [the lack of heat] has made me happier. So [Jordan and I] are waiting for a reason to stop, which we haven't encountered yet."

As for concerned family members and friends, Daniel's heard it all. He says, "Everyone seems to have an opinion. Some people think we're heroic, before our time, etc. Other people (probably more) think we're imbeciles. A lot of people do seem to get that we're advocating a way out of some of our dependence on burning fossil fuels in a cheap, low-tech, old-fashioned way. But a lot of people get very upset when you suggest they could change their behaviors."

Think you'd be brave enough to follow in these homeowners' chilly footsteps? For those who are, Daniel shares these tips:

1. Try to disconnect the phrase room temperature from any specific number that may currently be stuck in your mind.
2. Recognize that if you share your house with another person, you'll always disagree about the temperature -- accept it as normal and try to smile at each other.
3. Lastly, find out where all the pipes are in your house, figure out which ones are most at risk to freeze, and keep a close eye on them.

And, of course, look out for metal objects. As Daniel says, "Putting my hands on the aluminum laptop first thing in the morning is still kind of shocking..."

Other heat-free bloggers::
-Experiments in Efficiency
-Peak Oil Blues

RECOMMENDED READING:
Heat-Saving Suggestions
Find the Perfect Space Heater to Save Energy (and Money)
A Zero-Energy Building Grows in Brooklyn


  • Autumn

    I think this is a bad idea. You could go to sleep one night and not wake up due to freezing to death. I have lived without heat before because of frozen pipes so I know you can get comfortable enough with warm clothing and lots of blankets but I think this is a dangerous thing to try.

    I just took a look at the blog and I see he has a woodstove and electric blankets. Being able to sit by the fire is better than not having any heat source but can't electic blankets be dangerous?

    Reply
  • Kelly

    Who ever froze to death at 52 degrees?


  • Justin

    It's called hypothermia..and you only need your body temperature to drop to 95 degrees before it may not be able to be reversed. You may very well go to sleep and not wake up. Temperatures need not be below freezing for this to happen.


  • dpolite

    This is crazy, an experiment in human adaptability? we already know we can adapt. People have lived in the cold for thousands of years with no furnace or electric blanket or space heaters and we havent all died yet. Back then they didnt have the option of controlling the temperature....WE DO!!!! I can understand turning down the thermostat but no heat at all? by choice? I lived without heat for most of my adolesence not by choice let me tell you and I would never willingly go through that again. These people are crazy plain and simple.

    Reply
  • moonlight

    I have been living like this for the last few years. I have a $100 budget per month for ALL utilities, water, gas, and electric. If my house is 55 degrees I am comfortable. Just wear warm clothes! I have a heating pad and down comforters for the night. When I get up to go to work I have a small electric heater to dress beside. The coldest part of winter is only 3 months. You get used to it. And I only have a small window AC in the summer.

    Reply
  • betty boop1

    I agree. I did this at my house too. I got some complaints from my housemates, but, since I was paying the bills, I got to control the thermostat. Sweats, lots of throws in the TV area, a space heater in the bathroom, and a warm bed make it all tolerable. Plus it's so much cheaper... significantly so, believe it or not. Well worth it, no matter what you need the extra money for.


  • Alex

    We don't use heat and it doesn't phase us at all. We go to sleep under two blankets and wake up sweating. We save tons of money and conserve energy at the same time. We aren't crazy nor cold. In the summer time, we too use only ceiling fans or open windows.

    Reply
  • vesalagolf

    I think I will turn up the heat at my house 3 degrees tonight. That will make it 72 degrees in my house and 26 outside tonight. No sweaters just a tee shirt and shorts.

    Reply
  • ander

    Why not turn it up to 90 and go naked?


  • vesalagolf

    Great idea ! I wish I had thought of it first. 75 would be enough.


  • NORMAN

    I smell a rat, this is all about saving a few dollars and nothing more. What's more he probably is spending the extra dough on more beer! HaHa. I had friends who did the same all in the name of having more money to party with. 1 went so far as to let all utilities be turned off, no phone and finally when it was a question of buying more meth or groceries he bought a 5lb. bag of suger and subsisted on sugar water & speed for a week. Just saying...

    Reply
  • Marc

    I live in Florida, I have my heat blasting every day the temp is below 70 and the A/C on 24/7 every month the temp is above 80.
    I'm happy to hear there are others conserving! LOL
    I like being comfortable and really do not care about your "Global Warming" isue (that is a scam and you all know it!)
    You cannot change "Mother Natures" directions of events! :-)

    Reply
  • Julia

    I think it might be nice to have my condo a little cooler but without blasting the air conditioner or keeping windows open all night (which I don't for safety) it's nearly impossible. I live in southern California. It's been in the 40's at night a lot this winter and if I don't turn on any heat all day, it might actually get down to 67 degrees inside. Such a hardship. Ha!

    Reply
  • sherry

    I work from home. I have a space heater to keep the office warm. My thermostat is OFF. I do turn on the furnace to around 60 so I don't freeze for the morning shower.
    My gas bill last month was $53. My power bill $58
    Last year my gas bill was $200 and I was freezing. Then I discovered the wonders of a managed thermostat.
    Really, what's the point of heating an entire house when you aren't using it?

    Reply
  • sherry

    Heat is a luxury. Air conditioning on the other hand is a MUST HAVE

    Reply
  • Susan

    I"ll take 95 degrees anyday over the cold. I'm always freezing and I hate it. I keep my home thermostat at 72, and that's still not warm enough.

    Reply
  • kathy

    i have my thermostat low too..and you do aclimate to a cooler temp....but too low..and the pipes will freeze and what do you save if you use electric for a heating pad...electricity is more expensive..or a room heater?? and if you use them your not really living without heat...just without conveniant heat...and cooler temps are not good for plaster walls...so i would think that they wouldnt be good for wallboard either...

    Reply
  • monique

    Susan.. i agree with you - i stay cold... and i would take 95 degrees anyday vs. this cold weather.... and forget going cold - we decided not to buy oil at $3.59 a gallon - so space heaters for us... and they are working out just fine!!! no oil bill every 4 weeks and my electric bill has only gone up a few bucks a month... i think it was a great trade off... but nothing beats living in a warm climate vs. a heating bill!!!

    Reply
  • kathy

    we do have global warming but anything we do will NOT stop it...they bitched about the ozone layer and now its coming back and guess what....and by doing so they say..its helping the global warming go faster...this is a case of man interfering in nature and not know their azz from a hole in the ground about it..we may , by interfering , start something that we will be sorry for later...mother earth knows what she is doing...if she believes we are screwing things up.. mother earth will take us out.... after all the swine flu was just a slap in the face to get our attention...mother nature can do so much worse if we screw with the weather...

    Reply
  • Judy C

    As a menopausal woman... the lack of heat and 65 degrees or less sounds heavenly.

    Reply
  • 38 Comments / 2 Pages
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