I have a friend who doesn't heat his home. This may seem unremarkable, but we live in the Northeast and frankly, it's really cold outside. I'm sure a large part of living in a no-heat or almost no-heat home (he has a small woodstove for when his teenage daughter visits) has to do with his economic situation, but he says now it's not just a thrifty choice, it's a life choice. Dressed in shorts in the winter, he claims it's too warm in most buildings for him.
The New York Times recently ran a story called, Chilly By Choice. This article highlights some of the reasons people choose to live in cold houses. From a person who listens to a lot of music and says the acoustics are better in the cold, to people with dire economic reasons, most of the people seem to have embraced their choice. This woman mentions survival as her reason:
"Focusing on survival is right up there with a Zen retreat when it comes to clearing the mind...we didn't evolve to sit on a chair in a temperature-controlled environment staring at a screen all day."
Mmm, as I stare at the screen in my warm (hard to regulate) wood heated home, I can't say I totally share their zeal for a cold home, but I understand some of the reasons. All the chilly inhabitants say they thrive in the cold. Whatever the reasons, the attitudes of people who live in cold homes are similar. They mention their enthusiasm for the environment is what fuels their prudent use of energy, making their choice both ethically, and environmentally sound reason.
How cold is too cold?
"With the right equipment, humans can endure enormous temperature dips. Dr. Peter Hackett, has recorded minus 50 degree temperatures outside his tent on a climb of Mount McKinley in Alaska, "It's extremely unpleasant," he said, but certainly survivable, albeit with the right gear: long underwear, layers of fleece, and down or synthetic puff jackets...Thyroid function goes up, creating more body heat, and metabolism changes, too, causing you to burn more fuel, fat especially, which generates a bit more heat."
How to Keep Warm in the Cold
Apparently, you can freeze to death faster than you can starve to death. Despite the burning fat advantage, it takes the right clothing to keep warm.
Watch this video from Instructables and find out how to dress warm in the cold:
Of course, if everyone would just design with Passivhaus -- that stays warm in the winter without heat -- then we wouldn't have to worry about it. Until then, bundle up!