There are a few major things that have changed with my move two blocks up the road. Being a homeowner comes with all sorts of new stuff in it and the three things that are the biggest deal for me are.
- Having my bedroom and office on a different floor from my kitchen and my living room. For the first month or two I was here, I felt like I was forever going up and down stairs. My last place was on the second floor but most days I’d go down to “ground level” maybe once or twice.
- Having a split sink. This feels so minor but my last kitchen had one big sink, this one has a split sink. No big deal but just the basic “You move the faucet here and the water goes there” muscle memory has been tough to retrain.
- Paying for my own heat. People who know me well know that I grew up in a miserly-feeling household and I have some maladaptive miser issues. In my old apartment, heat was included in the rent. I still kept the heat lowish but I did keep it on. In this place, with the price of heating oil like it is, I’ve been trying to walk the line between reasonable and prudent energy conservation and being ridiculously cold at all times.
The heat thing is such an interesting puzzle, to me, because there are so many moving parts. Here are some of those parts, the things I do differently now that I am paying for my own heat.
- I blow dry my hair now. Sitting around in a slightly-cold house with damp hair is a non-starter. This also means I got a blow dryer. And I got a trim, the first haircut I’ve gotten since 2018, because my ends were getting all frizzly. I kept saying I’d cut it back to short when we sold my mom’s house and… that’s been taking a while.
- I have space heaters now, a bunch of them. If I know I’m going to be in my office for a chunk of time, I’ll just fire up the space heater with the door closed, no sense in heating the entire house.
- I have zones now (upstairs and downstairs) and I get to try to figure out how to optimize zone heating. Like why heat the upstairs more than the minimum if I’m not up there? But then I turn the upstairs heat up before I go to bed, but not TOO far up because there are enormous radiators. By the time they’re hot, they’re staying hot. Sleeping in a hot room in the winter feels wrong. I regularly turn the heat up to 65 upstairs and by the time the boiler cuts off, it’s over 70. Weird!
- Along the same lines I have a heated mattress pad on my bed, an electric blanket for the guest room, and a smaller throw (I call it the electric woobie) for when I’m reading downstairs in the morning. Colder rooms, warmer feet.
- I closed my front door completely off. The entryway is already pretty chilly since it’s in the far reaches of the downstairs relative to the pellet stove. So there’s a little note written on a card catalog card that says use the side door. This house could really use a mud room but there’s no obvious place for one.
- I got a pellet stove. This is a huge change. I’ve never had one before. I’ve been reading owner’s manuals, learning the cleaning schedule, ordering pellets by the ton. This means the kitchen is a decent temperature which is good because it’s COLD otherwise since it has two outside walls, a door to the outside, no real passive solar gain, and a fan which is basically a hole in the wall that is poorly insulated on the outside. Since there’s also running water in there, this is a huge plus. Also this particular pellet stove has a wood stove look and it’s making me remember back when I lived in Topsham and heated primarily with wood. So messy! So many heavy logs. A 40 pound bag of pellets is no joke, but even though the thing needs cleaning every other day, cleaning it doesn’t make ME dirty.
- I have one upstairs room in this house with no heat in it at all (??). I haven’t been in it in a while. Closed the door, haven’t gone back.
- I got window inserts for ten (out of 30-someodd) windows in the place. I think they’ve been useful but some of the window frames are kind of leaky so I’ve also been jamming rope caulk in all over the place.
- At my old place, my usual house outfit was leggings and shorts and a sweater. In this house, I’m usually wearing at least one extra layer most days and slippers, always slippers.
- My set point just seems lower nowadays. I feel warm in a room that’s in the low 60s. I fall asleep dreaming of curtains and rugs and fans and doorway schemes.
I know people have said they’d love to come visit. And I’d love to have you. But really, for your own comfort, wait until spring.
Hello Jessamyn, that sounds like the house I would like here in Western Australia but in my Case we have to combat the heat Totally the reverse to you. we just had the first heat for summer .[Do you remember your Trip To PERTH all those years ago with Kate] I take it that you sold Mom’s House and How is she ? You need a trolley to shift those 40 pound bags.Happy New Year.Ian
Heating with a wood stove has definitely recalibrated my mind and body when it comes to heat. I wouldn’t say I feel warm in the low 60s but it’s passable if you’re not sitting still for hours. People go on and on about losing heat from your head but it’s actually kind of junk science. I’ve found that wearing two layers on the bottom half is more of a game changer. I recently got some antique swinging curtain rods (“portieres”) and I’m going to try to rig them to hang heavy curtains in front of my doors. Weatherstripping etc helps but esp. with the older wooden doors the door itself is a cold spot.
The hair thing is so relatable. I’ve had very short hair for over a decade, and it fits with my overall butch presentation these days, but the truth is that I first cut it because I was living someplace without heat and at least if my hair was 1/2″ long it’d dry quickly and I could put a hat on for warmth. (I have curly hair and no patience for blowdrying.)
Anyway, as someone who aspires to home ownership in New England while still being warm enough, it’s interesting hearing about your process.