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I don't wake up to a frozen-over toilet bowl, and I can't see my breath in my apartment, but temperatures in the place I call home appear to have stabilized at about 55.4° during the day and about 52° at night. It's not that I can't afford the gas to heat my apartment, it's that apparently my landlord has provided such inefficient appliances - a gas stove, a hot water heater three stories below me in an uninsulated basement, and a heater powered by said water heater - that heating my one-bedroom apartment to 60° in December and January cost $150. To compare, my friend in a two-bedroom down the street was paying $140 for an average of 70°.

So rather than forking over more than I spent on groceries in a month to keep myself at barely-heated, I just told the gas company to shove it. Currently, I'm in the adjusting process.

Fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit is far past "put on a sweater" temperatures. I attempt to spend as little waking time at home as possible (though I'm there now), and when I do, I'm usually either walking around vigorously or tucked under my Pendleton wool blanket, a graduation present from my aunt for my Masters degree last spring. I always wear a sweatshirt, sometimes with several additional layers underneath, and sometimes even with a scarf when my metabolism isn't cooperating.

My electric bills are quite reasonable, even though I've occasionally had three laptops and a desktop computer all running simultaneously. I use single, high-efficiency bulbs for lighting when needed, and the cooler temperatures of my apartment actually mean that I'm saving energy for my refrigerator, which doesn't have to maintain as high a temperature differential.

Biggest adaptation: no stove. I haven't found a hot plate at a thrift store yet, and ever since I scored a perfectly functional toaster and convection oven at St. Vincent's for a grand total of seven dollars, I refuse to pay retail prices (I would have coughed up nearly 10 times that at Target). As a result, I've had to find alternatives to my usual diet of oatmeal in the morning and omelets or pasta at night. One of the more appealing strategies was the raw food diet - only eat things as they occur in nature. Breakfast consists of an apple and banana with water-soaked flax seeds and cinnamon, blended into really delicious "oatmeal". Dinner, Wasa wafers with spinach, tomatoes, red onion and lox. Good, but in a cold apartment, I want my hot meals. I'm trying to come up with some healthy options that use the toaster and convection oven...

Oh, and I have to shower at work. But that just gets me to the gym more often!

Has anyone else eschewed the gas company entirely, or cut way down on their bills by giving up part of the expected central-heat-hot-water-stovetop-cooking combination? Leave tips, tricks, and stories in the comments!

Originally posted to hobbularmodule on Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 05:36 PM PST.


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