Heating Bills

Heating Bills

When the temperature at the country house hovers around -20 (-4F) first thing in the morning, the temperature at the little house in the city is often a bit colder. When the temperature at the country house dips to -30C (-22F) to -37C (-34.5F), the temperature at the little house in the city is significantly higher.

It doesn’t get as cold at the little house in the city, as it does at the country house, but it is sometimes colder at the little house in the city than at the country house.

Although the the sun shone bright this morning, by noon it was snowing again. I did not shovel the driveway after the last snow, and because Tank is a big vehicle, and I don’t anticipate having any trouble driving over the large bump at the end of the driveway left by the snow plough.

I had a restful night, and slept well. The single Tylenol tablet was very effective in taking the edge off the pain. However, I am unable to sleep on my side because the knee joint will tolerate no pressure at all, it hurts if something is touching it, such as my other knee, or part of my leg. I slept on my back to avoid pain.

Today I am wearing the knee brace, and that too helps with the pain. What is significant is that I can stand in the kitchen and do the dishes without pain, when I wear the brace. I hadn’t realized how long it has been since this has happened. Standing is very painful, but I can manage it comfortably with the knee brace. Small blessings!

Squash soup was on the menu for lunch today. On Thursday night I left two halves of a squash overnight in the crockpot, with about two cups of water. On Friday morning a spoon was used to remove the cooked squash from the tough skins, then it was mashed and refrigerated. This morning I sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil, added 2 cups of vegetable broth, ginger, and a pinch of salt, then set it to simmer for several hours. It is a delicious soup!

I have been thinking about being alone here, and have decided there are some real benefits to spending this much time alone with nothing but my own company. There is a sense of accomplishment in managing the house on my own. Of course, having a thermostat, a renovated bathroom and kitchen, and Tank in the driveway, go a long way to making this place truly comfortable. I am hardly roughing it!

The house is becoming familiar in all the right ways. The different sounds made by the physical plant, the furnace, the refrigerator, the ticking of the clock, the clunk of the plumbing… once familiar these sounds offer comfort. The street sounds too are becoming familiar. The roar of the big truck starting up across the street is recognizable, the sound of the garbage truck, the shouting of children on their way home from school. I am settling into this place in space, like a foot into an old shoe.

The mail at the country house has become less reliable due to the retirement of the post master, and the convoluted and inefficient manner of hiring that goes on as the company and the union spar. Not all of our bills are arriving in a timely manner. The hydro bill for the period of time that we spent at the little house in the city last month, and our visit during Christmas, has not arrived.

It was relatively simple to register and setup our hydro account online, which gave me access to the amount due on the current bill. It was double our usual bill, but all things considered, that wasn’t too bad. We used electric heat to heat the house because we weren’t there to fire the masonry heater. Attila estimated that due to the warm weather in December, it cost us approximately $12 a day to heat the country house. Last winter our absence at Christmas cost around $20 a day to heat the country house, as it was very, very cold during that time.

It will be interesting to see how much it will cost to heat the little house in the city this winter. So far the heat pump is doing a fine job, and ringing in at or below $1.50 a day. But that does not include the fuel oil used to supplement the heat when it gets too cold for the heat pump. We will have to wait until the tank is filled again to get a good idea how much fuel oil was used this winter. We started with 3/4 of a tank, and are down to 1/2 a tank at present.

We have a compost pile, so organic matter is put in the compost. We recycle, so cans and bottles and cardboard go into the recycling bin. In three weeks, all the other garbage I generated fit into one kitchen garbage bag. It was getting a bit odiferous, so I sealed it up, took it downstairs, and replaced the bag.

One of the little experiments I have been playing with this past week is separating the garbage. I am keeping a separate bag of garbage, and into it I put all paper that cannot be recycled, unsoiled food wrappings, and all plastic that cannot be recycled. At present this “unsoiled garbage” bag is almost full, and the regular garbage has two small items in it. Most of our garbage is unsoiled packaging! The thing about this “unsoiled garbage” bag is that it will not develop an odour or need to be thrown out quickly. I can accumulate many bags of “unsoiled garbage”, and then discard of it in one large green garbage bag, after several months. The advantage to this is that I will only need one tag for all that garbage, and tags cost money. I would prefer not to have so much in the way of unsoiled garbage. That will give me something to chew on over the winter.

Another quiet day draws to a close. I realize that it is the weekend only because the neighbours are home all day, providing me with new sounds to assimilate, and form sources of comfort.

Worldly Distractions


Little House in the City
Date: 5:00 AM ESTSaturday 17 January 2015
Feels like -30

Country House
Date: 5:00 AM EST Saturday 17 January 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -20.2°C
Dewpoint: -22.9°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: SE 9 km/h
Wind Chill:-27


“Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive.”
Edith Wharton
1862 – 1937


  1. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Sorry to hear that they require tagged garbage bags where you live. For now, our city does not but they are now considering the option.

    Also sorry to hear you’re in such pain with your knee. I hope it eases of quickly for you. I’m thinking that ibuprofen didn’t work well for me when my knee was at its worst. I think I ended up taking an acetominophen based muscle relaxant, so then I could combine it with ibuprofen if I needed that much relief. Ibuprofen and acetominophen target pain in different ways, so they work together to bring greater relief.

  2. Thanks for the tips Teri, duly noted for future reference!

    I try not to take painkillers on a regular basis, but will take them for short periods of time when I think they will facilitate the healing process. My knee isn’t the only chronic pain on my plate, and I don’t want to get used to feeling pain free, compliments of drugs.

  3. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    You and I think the same when it comes to staying away from excessive pain reliever use. But with the knee the pain relievers help in more ways than one as they also reduce inflammation, which is very important as it eases strain on that entire area.

  4. The anti-inflammatories are helpful. Sometimes all it takes is one to bring down the swelling enough to let natural healing take over, sometimes I need them for a few days. They are a great tool, as you point out!

  5. Bex

    Do you have Mist or is Mist back with Atilla? I would need a companion animal of some kind. I can’t fathom what life will be like without our dogs, though we have said they will be our last ones. I don’t think I’d be able to keep that decision if I were alone. I need a dog!

  6. Mist is with Attila Bex. I miss her. I miss Attila more.

    I hear what you are saying about needing a dog! I love dogs. I understand that they require a commitment, which at this point I am not prepared to make. We travel too much right now, our circumstances aren’t working out as planned, and I don’t think we could be fair to a dog right now. Perhaps in more settled times, if there ever are any!

    I do need a companion of some kind, but a dog won’t work for us right now, and Mist would not tolerate another cat in the house at this point. So here I am, just me, myself, and I, muddling along. I am managing very well.

    (To be honest, I do think about having a dog fairly often!)

  7. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    You might consider a smaller dog breed sometime, something on the non-yappy side, when you feel more settled. The smaller breeds are easier to care for and most like to cuddle similar to a cat. DH and I have already decided Squee will be our last large dog, as she’s just too much work. Puppers, being a Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) and a compact 18″ at the shoulder is much easier to deal with.

    If you’ll excuse the pun, I’m toying with the idea of our next dog being a Papillion. A toy breed. They look a lot like the next size down from a Sheltie. An easy size to pack up and be on the go with. Some folks have even trained them to litter boxes but I don’t think I’d like that very much, even if it would make life easier when the snow piles high outside.

  8. Our Ducky Doodle (a deer-faced chihuahua) weighs about seven pounds, is not yappy, and is a cuddler extraordinaire, with a personality more like a terrier than a chihuahua, or so I think.

    I don’t like having a pet in the house because of all the hair they shed, but Mr. Doodle’s lovely personality makes me do it.

  9. I’ve seen the photos you have posted of Ducky Doodle Kate and he looks like a cuddler! I do love to cuddle! Mist isn’t into it, she will tolerate brushing and petting, but cuddling, no sir!

  10. It sure does seem like your heating is costly in comparison to mine. Your numbers are shocking to me! Taking into account the two apartments and an oversized 3-car garage that needs to be heated when the temps drop below freezing, I’ve got about 3500 sq ft and my costs run about 1/3 your costs. I do have 4 zones – all heat pumps – that I adjust according to the weather. My jaw flew open to read your costs. I’d be chopping wood too! In years past I’ve been far more frugal. With my illness, I’ve found that I chill easily so have cranked the heat up – and yet, my costs are far below yours. Over the years it’s been a game for me. I kept the house at 58 at night and 65 during the day. $152 was my best coldest month. I’d get such a charge at seeing how frugal I could be. 🙂 Your city house is a bargain to heat in comparison to the country home.

  11. Reenie, we were very shocked at the first hydro bill we received the first April we had the country house. April! The bill was over $400, we used the heat for only a few nights. Part of that problem was the hot water thermostat, which was broken, so the hot water heater heated constantly. It was only a few months before I decided I wanted a masonry heater! The winters are bitter cold at the country house, frequently below -4F, and as cold as -30F for a week or so, last winter is was -30F or below for several weeks. Most people who actually live in that area, rather than vacation during the warm weather, heat with wood.

    The little house in the city is partially heated with a heat pump. We are very impressed with the heat pump! However, at the little house in the city we get a lot of winter weather below 19F, which is when the heating system switches over to the oil furnace, as it is too cold to run the heat pump efficiently.

    I guess you are that much further south of us Reenie, that the heat pumps will do the job for the whole winter. They sure are impressive heating systems! Maybe in the years to come the technology will develop for efficient use in colder climates!

  12. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    I wonder if geothermal heating would work well around here. Certainly it’s not that cold just several feet below ground. (Our frost line is at about 40 inches/1 meter depth.)

    Our heat here is at about $3/day, right now. And the temps are, for the most part, colder than normal for this time of year.

  13. Terri, wow $3 a day, that is amazing! It puts the heating bills at the little house in the city into perspective, we need to get busy tearing out the drywall, replacing the insulation, and adding a vapour barrier! But I think it is the living room and bedroom windows where we lose a LOT of heat, and the basement is not insulated. Still a lot of work ahead of us here!

    we thought about geothermal, the initial investment is high, and our calculations showed us that we would probably have moved to assisted living before the system began to show signs of saving money in the long term. The other issue with it is that if you don’t drill down, you need an extensive cleared land area to install the lines. We value our trees at the little house in the city and would not remove them for a heating system, and at the country house the bedrock is right under the surface of the earth, we would have to blast and bring in soil, or drill…$$$$$$$$. And then there is the long term maintenance of the lines for the ground source heat pump, they don’t last forever.

    The heat pump we have installed at the little house is an air source heat pump, and I am shocked at how well it works. It is far too cold at the country house for an air source heat pump, it would only run a few weeks a year, the rest of the winter the temperatures would be too cold to run it.

  14. The winters here are bitter and cold Reenie! Shelter is a whole different entity when you will literally freeze to death, or be forced out, when your systems go wrong. The homeless people here in Canada are the hardiest breed on the planet!!!

  15. Joan, I was just reading about “swamp coolers”, which won’t work in my climate, but I thought of you immediately! Maybe you could have a swamp cooler and solar power to run it for a backup system in case the grid goes down… it is so hot where you are!

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