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Doing my part to save the planet

January 13, 2012

All my friends think I’m crazy. No, wait. Let’s make that, they are pretty certain I’ve finally flown over the cuckoo’s nest. I prefer to think of myself as frugal — maybe even a tad cheap.
Whatever. I’m doing my part to save our natural resources.
When my central heat shut down before Thanksgiving, I elected not to replace it. I decided to try an experiment. So far, without that heating system cutting on and off for 24 hours, I’ve saved myself $5,000 on a new unit. I’m still saving, assuming my dental bills won’t be too high from wearing my teeth down as a result of all that chattering in the cold.
My utility bills this month totaled $52.47. A year ago the gas and heat bills totaled $347. Now who’s laughing at me? Incidentally, the cooling part is working just fine. So come May, I’ll still be cool as a cucumber.
I can’t say that I’ve been too awfully uncomfortable. I have a small heater in my bathroom which I turn on a few minutes before taking a bath, and I bought a lap-sized electric blanket which keeps Lucky Dawg from shaking to death.
Two gas log fireplaces — located at opposite ends of my living area heat things up so efficiently, I sometimes open the door to cool down. My drafty old 19th century farm house has 12-foot ceilings, and when I had central heat you couldn’t get warm anyway unless you climbed up on a ladder. There are so many ways for heat to escape the home I figured I was heating the entire neighborhood.
I sleep in fleece sweats and a stocking cap, but, hey, I don’t have a man around any longer to complain about that. I also have Lucky Dawg and Rebel in the bed with me and they are like little heaters.
Yesterday, when the temperatures dipped into the 20s, I bundled up and went to the library. It was toasty warm there, and I met a really nice homeless fellow who was at the library for the same reason.
My high school classmates and I want to take a trip to Rome to celebrate our entry into official senior citizendom this spring. I figure I can afford it since I’m saving $300 a month on a heating system that kept my entire house warm even though I never entered most of the rooms more than once or twice a year.
Another plus is that having no heat keeps away unwanted company. I didn’t have to change the sheets but once over the holidays. 
Can’t you remember the old days when you had a gas wall heater to warm the rooms in which you lived? I think we’ll be going back to that instead of heating huge spaces for no good reason. 
So far, I’ve had only one casualty. A 4-foot coleus which I was trying to over-winter indoors up and froze to death. You have to be strong to survive in my house.
Now, having said all this, if we should get an ice storm in February, I’ll probably be calling you to ask if I can come sleep over.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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