Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Burrrrrrr’s cold outside, which means it’s cold inside too. The main floor of my house is particularly chilly, because all the warm air is escaping to the upstairs. Even though the kitchen and living room are cool, it’s nice and warm upstairs – perfect for sleeping. It’s like the polar opposite of my childhood.

As a child, my father was quite conservative with the heat, so he reasoned that heating the upstairs of the house, when we spent so little time up there, was money wasted. Of course, my sister and I strongly disagreed as we marched off to bed wearing our winter hats and gloves to stay warm as we slept. We tried to be clever by leaving the door at the top the stairs cracked open to allow some of the heat to rise up, but I could always hear him saying, “Somebody forgot to close the door upstairs.”

My sisters and I would get sneaky and crack open the vent to our room a little to get some extra heat, but as the boys walked by on the way to their room, they would discover our plan and rat us out. Sometimes, my sister and I would jump in bed at the same time and get ourselves as warm as possible – meaning doing scissor kicks quickly to heat up our bodies – and then realize that neither of us had remembered to turn out the lights. Shoot! After arguing over who should sacrifice themselves and get out of bed to turn out the lights, we usually just resolved to sleeping with the lights on. Occasionally one of our brothers would be coming up for bed and we would ask them to flip the switch for us, but they seemed to think our dilemma was funny – so the answer was usually “no”. ( typical big brothers )

I remember wearing long flannel nightgowns to bed, which I hated because they always managed to either get twisted around my body or I ended wearing the whole thing around my neck like a scarf before the night was through. They did work well in the morning though, as I stood over the floor vent – doing my best impression of a Goodyear blimp. Once my body temperature reached normal, I would throw my cold jeans over the vent in an effort to warm them up before putting them on. It was my childhood version of “hot jeans”.

Even after we all moved out of the house, Dad never did heat the upstairs unless we were coming home for a visit. And even then, he didn’t go crazy with the thermostat – he kept it nice and lukewarm. The in-laws have joked over the years that they dress their kids in their warmest Pj’s to sleep at grandpa and grandma’s house. Sometimes when visiting, we would catch my mother tweaking the thermostat to warm the house up a bit. Of course, she’s like me at my workplace – if it’s cold, I just crank it up to 80 thinking that will make things heat up quicker. My dad loooooved that!

A few years ago, my dad put in a geo-thermal system, which is fantastic because the heat is distributed evenly and the house feels warmer– hallelujah! Only twenty years too late!

Funny that now as an adult, I don’t keep my house cozy warm either. I like sleeping under warm blankets and I don’t like a lot of hot air blowing on me. I do want my house nice and toasty, but I also want to conserve like my father did. If you had told me that I would feel that way someday when I was sleeping with my long flannel “scarf” and winter hat to keep myself warm, I would have said that you were crazy! I guess it’s true what they say, “Never say never.”

There are many things my father did – my parents for that matter – that I never thought I would do once I was in charge of my own life. But such is the cycle of life that as we get older, we often realize the brilliance of our parent’s madness.


Amy said...

I seem to be in the minority. I believe you should be comfortable in your house, if nowhere else, in the summer or winter. I'll pay a few more dollars a month to turn the dial whichever way I please. Most people don't agree with me, but I've never understood tolerating an uncomfortable climate at home. I'd rather cut corners somewhere else.

Your nightgown stories remind me of my own. And, they remind me why I quit wearing nightgowns.

Jen said...

Okay, I hate to always agree with everything you say...but this post I could REALLY relate to. My dad has worked for the electric company since I was "conserving energy" has been his FOCUS for as long as I can remember. Thermostat never goes over 70 in winter. Never hold the fridge door open for more than 3 seconds. (we had to open it, take a 3 second inventory, close it. Think about what we wanted and then QUICK! open it up and grab it FAST before dad yells at us!) Never EVER hold the front door open. You go in or out but you DO NOT stand in the doorway talking to your friends. I remember hearing "Jenni, go outside and see how fast the meter is turning!" because I had left my bedroom light on or the curling iron on. We weren't allowed to bake in the summer because the a/c would have to work "so much harder" to cool the house with that added heat.
oh my gosh. and then what did I do? I grew up and married a man who works for the SAME COMPANY! Funny thing is...I'm actually the one who freaks about that kind of stuff now. My hubby is way more easy-going and is like your last commenter, Amy, who says it is WORTH the extra few dollars to be comfortable. Me on the other hand...I don't see any need in "heating or airconditioning the outdoors"! (words stolen right from the mouth of my father!)
AUGH! ha ha

Jen said...

oh and when I got to your comment about the nightgown being wound around your body or up by your neck like a scarf---I CRACKED up. I have SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO been there and done that! he he he

Kate said...

care to send me your e-mail address to ? I'm setting my blog to private and want to make sure I invite you~

Claire said...

What happens - how do we become our parents??? I love seeing how long I can keep my heat off - here it is Dec. 4th and I have turned it on 4 times - of course I live in Myrtle Beach - in a town home between two other homes so I am well insulated - but it has been chilly here - maybe it is the survivalist - pioneer woman in me? Not my Dad ???