That was quick


Mail after one day of not even living here. 0_O

I am back in the Mothhouse again, presumably for the last time this week.  Actually I could go here early tomorrow and still get back home, but that would have to be really early, and I will probably prefer to sleep.  It has been a full work week after all.

I have turned off the heat pump and am trying to get a feel of how fast the house cools without it. The answer is: Disturbingly fast. I am not greatly surprised:  The house reminds me in many ways of the one where I grew up (even to a faint smell in the stair room, which I cannot identify but am pretty sure I have not felt in any of the houses where I have lived since I left my birth family’s home).  That house was said to be a hundred years or more even then.  This one sure is newer, but it is still old by today’s standards.  It shows in the small rooms, it shows in the low doors, it shows in the windows that are only double, not triple which has been the standard for a good time now, it shows in the many exits (three doors for such a small house).  There is just something that feels old about it, despite most of the first floor being visibly renovated to modern standards.  I guess renovation does not quite allow the same level of insulation as building a new house.  In any case, it cools pretty fast in the beginning.  Then again it is still winter, only two degrees Celsius outside.  (Two degrees above the melting point, in other words.)

There is a reason I came to think of this.  You see, when I left the bus (on the nearest bus stop, for the first time ever) I got the impulse to check the mailbox. You may remember I wrote about it yesterday – that was when I was told that it had been set up.  So I reasonably expected that it might be empty, unless someone had already stuffed fliers in it. Well, had they ever.  There was a heap of colorful advertisement, as seen in the picture above.  I was about ready to throw it all in the trash, as I had also got a trashcan today (yay!). But again, some impulse made me look through the heap, even if half-heartedly.  And there I found two letters, plus a magazine from the local church.  The letters turned out to be from the utility company, which is formally divided in two entities (one supplies the power and one the power lines).  No, they had not sent me bills already, just a confirmation of contract.  From this I also saw the state of the power meter at the time I took over, and I went and compared it with today.  Turns out I have used almost 800 KWh in just under a month, in which I have not even lived here.

The front rooms on the ground floor have been kept at approximately the temperature they would have if someone lived here, first by a space heater in the living room and now the heat pump.  (Which, we recall, is not actually more energy efficient than a space heater when the temperature reaches zero and actually slightly less when it is freezing outside, since it also has to de-ice the outside unit from time to time.) I believe the landlord is worried that the water pipes may freeze if the house is not kept warm, which is a valid concern, but just how warm does it have to be to prevent that?  The bathroom has its own heater, which is plenty enough for that small space. The washroom holds the hot water boiler, which should be enough to keep the tiny room from freezing.  That leaves the kitchen.  The kitchen is on the end of the heat chain right now:  The heat pump is in the study, on the opposite wall of the door to the small front hall, on the other side of which is the living room, and the door opening (with no door in) to the kitchen is from the living room again, at right angles.  So you have to heat the living room more than the kitchen, and the hallway more than the living room, and the study more than the hallway, for the kitchen not to freeze.  Even so, it cannot make sense to keep it warmer than my office at work.  I am definitely going to turn it down several degrees

The heat pump actually has a special setting for maintenance heating, 10 degrees above freezing, which seems made for just such a situation, where nobody is at home but you don’t want the place to freeze solid. Perhaps I should switch to that for the weekend and only turn on heating again on my return?  Although in that case it may take a while before I can take my outer jacket off!

One thing that should help is the wood stove.  And it is free, after all, unlike electricity. Unfortunately that is not an option today, as I quickly discovered that I had no matches.  It is not like I usually carry those around, you know.  I wonder if I can remember those over the weekend? Actually, it would be enough to remember them till I come home, and put the matchbox in the backpack.  I am making a habit of using the backpack, after I discovered it yesterday morning in a cabinet while looking for various stuff to bring over.  I had forgotten that I even had it!  I certainly don’t seem to be traveling much these days.  Then again I mostly used it when I traveled to see my best friend.  Anyway, it is a decent if overly colorful backpack and fully equivalent to two full plastic carrying bags, which was what I used the day before I discovered it.  I think a backpack, even in neon colors, looks more dignified than plastic bags.  And regardless of that, the chance of the contents becoming wet while I carry them or spilling out across the bus floor during the drive is greatly reduced.

Speaking of bus drive, I hate living in the past.  Today I turned on Google Maps more than 5 minutes before the destination, and it tried continuously to contact the GPS, but to no avail. It still had not tuned in to the GPS when I recognized the stop where I went off yesterday – the one that was one stop too early but I did not know at the time – and so I got off at the right stop even without GPS. But if the lights in the bus had been on, I might not have seen the outside clearly enough.  This is not good. Hopefully the GPS satellites are still functioning. I cannot offhand think of anything that would disable them and not be world news.  I may need to turn on the GPS earlier, perhaps, as there may be certain places where it is easier to triangulate from inside a bus. What do I know.  In theory you need open sky to use this GPS, unlike car GPSes, but it worked in the bus before.  The bus has big windows in all directions after all, so unless the satellites are more or less directly overhead it should work.

So what did I put in my backpack this time?  Unopened shirts and undershirts and socks. All of them unopened, that is.  Apart from that only three thick SF books (the Helliconia trilogy by Brian Aldiss).  These, however, were opened.  In related news, today I actually found a clothes cabinet upstairs, complete with a number of hangers. It is rather large and placed on the wall between the two upstairs bedrooms.  (Actually there is a third upstairs bedroom but it is less suited for the purpose than the other two, so I plan to use it for storage. I also planned to use it to hang my clothes, but many of them could now go in the cabinet.)

Something else to bring next time?  A measuring tape. I kept the curtains from the Chaos Node (originally because I hoped that the new owners of that house would also be interested in renting out the basement. Yes I loved the place.)  I wonder if some of them could be used somewhere here, at least temporarily. The less I need to buy while I pay double rent, the better.  I may even forgo curtains completely for a while, since the house is so far from the neighbors and anyway the  front of the house does not point toward the road.  Still, even I don’t think 5 years without curtains would be a good idea.  (I may be single, at least for most purposes, but not THAT single!) It should look vaguely like a home, if nothing else then to not bring dishonor to the landlord.

Well, it is time to finish here for today.  The bus will come in 10 minutes, theoretically.  It comes later in winter, but the roads are much better than yesterday.  I have turned down the target temperature gradually to 16 degrees Celsius, from 22, and it makes a big difference both to the heat and the fan.  It is unpleasantly chilly now, but no more than that. It should be easy to get the heat back up if I return, which I very sincerely hope.

4 thoughts on “That was quick

  1. If you invested in some sort of additional insulation for the place yourself, would it pay for itself in lower heating bills over five years? Or would the landlord allow or appreciate it? He might consider a concession on rent for a while, AND you might have lower heating bills. And what is heating the bedrooms upstairs, especially the one you’ll sleep in?

    If you were only a perimenopausal woman, “unpleasantly chilly” would cease to have any meaning for you, unless it were literally somewhere below freezing. Then it might possibly be “unpleasantly chilly”.

    If the curtains are a near fit, especially if they’re a little larger than the windows, you should be able to make them work simply by adjusting your curtain rods or getting new ones. They are cheap, unlike curtains. I have many, many little valance-type curtains that I have no idea what to do with. I’m not sure where they came from. I believe they must have been something the ex-husband saw on sale and couldn’t pass up and I somehow ended up with them. Show me your windows and their approximate measurements, and I’ll be glad to send you some of them. If you send me your new mailing address, of course. (You realize I’ll probably have to ask you for it every time I ever need it, no matter how many times you’ve sent it to me, don’t you? I have some sort of block sometimes with things like this.)

    Do you have a good rolling luggage-type thing? They are good things to have, not necessarily for vacationing (although they’re handy there) but for moving things around that you don’t necessarily want jostled. And they’re usually somewhat square-ish, with just a bit of give. And they zip. And they roll. Jenna has a plethora of them. Jared has a couple. We could also send you one or two of them.

    I’m trying to think of what all we have that we can send you. We have far too much stuff for only four people, and we could easily set you up in housekeeping with anything you need, I’m sure. I wish we could send you some of the furniture that we don’t really need and that is kind of in the way, but that whole transatlantic thing is a bit difficult in this case . . .

    • You live in America, I live in Europe. I don’t think there is any point in sending things that don’t fit in an envelope. Partly because of the cost, partly because if I can live without them for the time it takes to get them here, I can live without them in general. Save them until some local friends need them.

      Furthermore, I can afford all I need and more. When I don’t pay double rent, I earn more than I spend each month. Should I become impatient, I have enough credit available to fill the house with new furniture. I just don’t want to use it since I already have most of what I need. It is just not pretty, or rather not pretty together. And pretty is not a big deal for me.

      I don’t think it is possible to insulate the first floor any better than it is without tearing down the house and building a new. It is not as if I can feel wind coming in around the windows or anything. It’s just that with 3 door, fairly large windows and subarctic winter, you pretty much have to run some heat source continually. It is not unexpected, although it is now possible to build houses that lose heat more slowly.

      The upper floor is another matter! I looked into one of the many cabinets in the upper hallway, some of which cannot even be properly closed, and there was just a gaping hole into a room where mats of insulation lay scattered about. It is as if someone suddenly realized that why the heck am I starting to insulate upstairs, nobody is here except for sleeping and people prefer to sleep in cold rooms. So they just dropped it. Of course, with cold air falling down and warm air rising up, this means the stairway is virtually an outdoors room as far as keeping it warm is concerned. If I start heating it, I would have to heat the whole upper floor, which does have good walls but not insulation in the modern sense. I consider buying an arctic-level sleeping bag… Or I could put an electric space heater just in the bedroom, I suppose. It’s not like I can’t afford it for the coldest part of the year. It certainly won’t be a problem come spring.

  2. I have read about some kind of film that is put on windows using a hair dryer that supposedly adds considerable heat-conservative value to them. Obviously, living where I live I don’t worry about this much. My bed is up against a window, and I’m leaning against it now as I type. It’s 30 degrees outside, and I like it. Jeff suffers, but I do not. (If he suffers as much as he says, he should complete the refinishing of my headboard, in my opinion!)

    The upper floor concerns me, though. Are you sure it will be ok? I mean, we have electric space heaters in the kids’ rooms, since they aren’t attached to the central heat and air part of the house, plus window units that heat in the winter and cool in the summer. That keeps things ok, but we are not in Norway.

    Also, will it be terribly hot up there in the summer? That would be worse to me, personally, than the cold in the winter!

    I do wish we could send you some things, simply because they are not needed here and could be useful there. Small and/or lightweight things mightn’t be too expensive.

    I also wish I could loan you Jeff for a while, because he would have everything insulated and closing and just generally ship-shape in no time. In no time for YOU, since you are not his family, of course. He is working on some beautiful steps he is making for some people we work with today. This is while the ceiling is still unrepaired where the bees were in the front end of our house. The roof is ok, is his rationalization, I guess.


    • I doubt even Jeff could do better than my landlord, who after all builds houses for a living, and plans to give the house to his own child eventually. It is just that it is a bit old. Now that I think of it, the room I call study or home office was originally where the double bed stood, so perhaps he thought the upstairs bedrooms would only be used for storage anyway if the house was used by a single or a couple. (And in Norway today, a large family would probably not settle for a house this size.)

      Anyway, I would not worry about it. Electricity is still affordable in Norway, and I usually have more money than I need. As for the summer, I believe the nearby river is large enough to influence the microclimate quite a bit. It will likely be cooler but more humid than where I live now. We’ll see how that plays out if we get that far. It is half a year away after all.

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