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

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