Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Tundra

COLD! It's currently 2 degrees above zero, according to my thermometer. I don't know when I became a wimp, but it seems I have. Maybe it's because this cold weather came out of nowhere. Approximately a week ago it was 40 degrees.  It's kind of like whiplash when you get hit by this kind of cold air without a lead-in. The silver lining is that the wind has died down to a slight breeze. It was blowing really hard yesterday and that definitely was NOT pleasant.

I'm trying to use as little propane this year as possible, but my kitchen was only 54 degrees when I got up this morning. BRRRRR! I keep a thermometer in there to see how bad it gets and that's kind of bad. My house is designed in such a way that one half of the house doesn't heat well from the furnace. We put in a pellet stove a couple of years ago, which made a huge difference, but the cost of the pelleted fuel has become so high that it currently isn't cost-effective to use it. I have a radiant space heater that I'm using and I'll see how much that is costing us when we get the next electric bill. We have such a high energy bill over the winter because we need to operate stock tank heaters, 4 of them, and that uses a lot of power. I may not be able to tell how much the space heater costs, as it will be lost in the cost of the tank heaters. I haven't been so cost conscious since I was a young woman and I am surprised at how quickly I have become 'cheap'. I've become the queen of stretching out everything. The one thing I can't cut is the cost of feeding horses. It costs what it costs and there is nothing to do about it. But I have changed everything else that I can. I plan to close off the large, vaulted great room after the holiday season, which will help keep the kitchen warm. Whatever heat is in the kitchen gets lost because of that cavernous space. I will leave the heat vents partially open so it doesn't get too cold in there, but it will allow us to be warm over Jan. & Feb. in the kitchen. How strange to think about putting up a huge piece of plastic to close off a room. Welcome to the economic depression of the 21st century.

Off to brave the cold, wish me luck!


  1. Um, about this point our heat is looking really, really good. I do NOT like to be cold.

  2. I sort of like a medium between your heat and our cold. I think it's called San Diego, CA! The humidity you write about would kill me.

  3. We just drove back to Minnesota yesterday after spending a week in Florida...brrr. We had 15 below at 4 am this morning. It was 78 degrees in Orlando when we left on Friday morning. A bit of a shock to the system - but I keep telling myself that we CHOOSE to live here, right?
    We bought corn stove a few years ago, but it didn't work very well. We switched to a coal stove about four years ago - we love it. It's the clean coal, so it's more environmentally safe and CHEAP to run. The coal comes in 40 lb. bags (like a dog food bag). It costs us about $700 a year to heat the whole house to 72 degrees. Gotta love that. When we had propane, it was about $300 a month, and that was when propane was $1.30 a gallon. (I think it's a lot more than that now - I don't know, because my tank is full and I haven't filled it in a few years).
    This snow that we are getting is beautiful!!
    It's nice to be home!

  4. It would be nicer if we had snow, but we just have a dusting, so it is the tundra. 78 sounds kind of nice.

    The stove we have is wood pellets. I can burn up to 50% corn. It's too expensive to run at this time. I never heard of a coal stove, but $700/year is amazing. I paid $2.89/gal for propane in Oct. It has come down some since. Last I looked it was $1.99/gal. I'll need to order again in Jan., so I hope it comes down some more. I don't know what a long-term solution will be.

    I have a fireplace with a fan and I started it this afternoon. I can keep the flue nearly closed, so it isn't too much of a hole in the roof.

  5. Do none of you burn wood? Wood stoves are really effective. We had one when we lived in Toowoomba; it snows there. And it was cheap, cheap, cheap. :)

  6. I have two fireplaces, but they don't have doors so they're not efficient. I have a fireplace with a blower, so I should look into what it would cost to have a tempered glass door installed. Lots of rural people have wood boilers, but we have a propane run furnace.

    Wood isn't cheap to buy, but we have a steady supply from out grove. MN gets VERY cold, so heating fuel is an enormous expense.

  7. Most of these words have no meaning for me. lol. We had *potbelly* stoves which burnt very little wood but were extremely effecient.

    Now my American geography is not very good but rather than resorting to an atlas, is Minnesota roughly the same longitude/latitude as Wyoming? Just trying to get a grip on something I think I know [my friend flicka :)] with something completely foreign to me.

  8. Thank you! :) Looking with interest. I see Wyoming is reasonably close but further south & west [just need to check my left/right] so presumably that tad warmer? If you are calling it tundra I take it you are reasonably flat & the winds whistles & hoots across the plains? Wow! I've never really lived anywhere flat.

  9. The immediate area where I live is not flat, but a short drive west and it opens up to prairie. I was thinking tundra as in cold and arid, as we didn't have snow, but were very cold. I believe, but could be wrong that a tundra is a frozen desert? If you go east of Mn or west of North Dakota, it does become incrementally warmer.
    Mn is a large state and has the forests of the north. the prairies of the west, the river bluffs of the east and south. Have you heard of the Mississippi River? It has its beginning in MN.

  10. Oh goody! Something I know! lol :D I have heard of the Mississippi!


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