Cold Weather, Heating Bills, and Why New Englanders Are Nuts

noheat

“It’s freezing in here, but don’t you DARE touch that thermostat!”

There’s a game people in New England play this time of year. A game in which the stakes are high, the temperature is low, and financial situations as well as pride hang in the balance. The rest of the country thinks we’re absolutely nuts, yet every year households engage in wintry warfare when cold fronts hit and tempers heat up, as families battle over the most pressing issue of autumn — when to turn on the heat!

I know, I know. Sounds trivial right. Most of you are saying “turn the heat on if you’re cold.” Well you know what I say to that? This isn’t Texas, Florida, or parts of California where 65-degree temperatures cause you warm weather schmucks to don winter hats and gloves and look like assholes.

This is October in New England and the decisions we make now could have long-lasting repercussions.

First of all, this area was settled by Pilgrims (who “discovered” it after Native Americans had been living here for hundreds of years), and the puritanical presence can still be felt to this day. Bars close at 2 a.m. and up until a few years ago you couldn’t buy beer on Sunday. But more than that, we’re cheap. Some of us try to call it “thriftiness” but that’s just a fancy way of saying we’re cheap. And there’s nothing we complain about more than heating bills in the winter. Depending on whether you have oil, electric, propane, or what have you, a Massachusetts heating bill during a cold snap can easily cost upward of $600 a month. Not to mention the cost of snow removal (minimum $50 per plow visit) depending on the length of your driveway.

Which means frugality + stubbornness = an unwillingness to turn on the heat until it’s deemed absolutely necessary. And by absolutely necessary I mean someone loses a finger due to exposure.

It was 60 degrees in our house today. I’m writing this in slippers, wool socks, fleece pajamas, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. My wife and kids are dressed in a similar fashion. We have scarves, long johns, blankets, and electric blankets at the ready at all times. If people didn’t know we lived here, they’d think we were homeless. We sleep in self-made cocoons and we’re careful not to leave any body part uncovered, for fear of frostbite. We use each other’s body heat to survive and the kids sleep in thermals to avoid hypothermia during the night. That noise you hear isn’t an appliance on the fritz, it’s the sound of our teeth chattering.

So why? Why do we do it? Why not just turn on the heat and end the misery? Because fuck you, that’s why!

Being the last of your friends and family members to turn on the heat is a badge of honor. Every time you hang out with people and talk about the weather, someone says “you turn the heat on yet?” I smile at the ones who look away in shame as they mutter something about “Well the wife was freezing” or “we had to because of the newborn.” Suckers. These clowns are luxuriating in warmth and enjoying feeling in their extremities, but I’m saving $37 and proving my hardy New England mettle.

But more than that, I’m passing on a rich tradition of misery and sadomasochism to a new generation, who will one day tell their crying children “that’s what blankets are for” and “we don’t live on the west coast, Sally” when they tearfully ask to turn on the heat.

Sure my kids are growing weaker by the second and my wife is seriously considering cutting me open like a tauntaun and using my innards to keep warm, but seriously — where would you rather be during winter? New England winters feature blizzards that cripple the local economy and bankrupt municipal snow removal budgets as your power goes out causing you to buy a generator which you use to power your TV so you can watch the Patriots game instead of heating your house. Now compare that to the cloudless skies of southern California where perpetual temps in the mid-70s make Christmas on the beach a reality. No contest, baby!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need another pair of socks because I can’t feel my toes.

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120 thoughts on “Cold Weather, Heating Bills, and Why New Englanders Are Nuts

  1. Love it! I won the prize in my Boston neighborhood last year. Thank God when my 88 yr old Mom was here over the weekend, I’d closed all the windows and there was sufficient heat to avoid that initial hit of the thermostat! Now let’s see how long I can last! My cats have fur coats, I use layers!

  2. I can appreciate this. Based on this description of New Englanders, I’d fit in perfectly (not sure that’s a good thing).
    I hold off as long as possible. Blankets and layers can cure those middling temperatures. Talk to me when it gets to the thirties.

  3. I push my wife’s sanity by doing this every year.

    This year, however, she has turned the tide. She is 7 months pregnant and wants ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with turning the heat on.

  4. This could not be more true. As a born and raised Masshole, I have to agree that if you are the last to switch on the money pit……..I……I mean oil burner, you have truly succeeded in life. I cannot wait till I have children so I can bestow upon them the curse, No no, tradition! Of limited mobility thanks to wearing all 4 pairs of pajamas. Not to mention swaddling yourself at night with blankets to the point of a full on Hunger Games breaking out between the children over how many covers each spawn is aloud. And you know it is winter when the house smells like burning rubber thanks to putting hot water with the level of volcanic like warmth that is NOT intended for a hot bottle from CVS.

    Let’s be honest, there is no fall in New England. The leaves change from green to bright reds & yellows then fall to the ground. All the cliches like Uggs and Pumpkin EVERYTHING pollute our great cities. Mother nature stops taking her meds and has a few manic-bipolar episodes, causing the temperature to drop from 80, to 40, then up to 75 with a chance of a blizzard in the matter of 4 days time. Only to give us a white thanksgiving and a muddy Christmas all while chopping days of our children’s summer fun. Winter sets in and we all drive to work in 6 feet of snow while the south gets a dusting and shuts down all major roadways.

    No one knows winter in the US like a New Englander. Brutal, vicious, and doesn’t change our employer’s mind about our commute.

    On the same token, we have the Bruins 🙂

    New England-10
    Everywhere Else-0

  5. This is the silliest thing I ever heard. I live in Minnesota and I turn on the heat when I damn well please, and so does everyone else I know. Winter is miserable here and it’s not a point of pride to refuse to mitigate that misery.

  6. True to da bone. Haven’t turned my heat on yet but then again we are hitting almost 80 in Mass today so why would we. We will huddle outside on a cool fall night around your fiyah before turning on the heat. Have a brother in Florida that whines when it hits 65. Crap, around here that’s shorts weather.

  7. The building we live in has heat included in the rent. Stick that in your but and poop it back out, suckahs!

  8. So true! I was almost gave my Husband a heart attack once because he woke up to see the person in bed next to him (me) in a knit skull cap and gloves while reading in our wicked cold (“it’s night time, turn the heat as low as it can safely go”) bedroom!!!!

  9. My father and stepmom came to visit from Florida last weekend. The sissies couldn’t handle it so we had to turn the heat on for a couple of days. I have not admitted defeat – as soon as they left for the airport, it went right back off.
    Anyway, warmth is relative – the first day it hits 60 out in April we’re all running around in t-shirts again, so why is it the “bare minimum” to heat to 60 inside all winter? What are you gonna do when it gets cold out?

  10. Sam from Minnesota – it’s a New England thing – or is it just Massachusetts. I will not turn on my heat until November 1, unless we go below 40 in October. Right now we gave had the windows open for three days!!! I think we will make it! Then April 1 the heat goes off – unless we have another April Fools Day blizzard!!

  11. Judy, it is not just a Mass thing. It is a New England thing. Us here in Ct play the same game when it comes to turning on the heat. I thing we will make it past Nov 1st this year. Non new englanders just don’t get it.

  12. This so accurate. We would much rather suffer than turn on the heat. It’s actually my favorite time of the year. I love being home, nose frozen, all bundled up, drinking hot tea and wrapped in a blanket. It’s cozy! Our poor parrots have their own bedroom with it’s own independent heat, as they can’t take the cold the way we can.

  13. Been living with the sissies on Long Island for the last thirteen years but glad to say my Masshole roots haven’t left me. Heat doesn’t go on before 1- Nov (hopefully later – made it to Turkey Day one year) and gets shut off on 1-Apr. Passing the tradition down to my kids. Family and friends down here think I’m nuts…until we compare annual oil bills!

  14. It’s not being cheap — it’s ECOLOGICAL. I’m not being stubborn — I’m saving our limited fossil fuel supplies. The less natural gas I use, the less fracking they do.

    I think. I’m not entirely sure what fracking is. But I think that if i don’t turn on my heat, they don’t do it, right?

    Has nothing to do with proving that I’m tougher than any of those wimps who’ve turned their heat on.

    After all, if there’s no snow on the ground, what’s the problem? And if there IS snow on the ground, well, snow’s actually a good insulator, isn’t it?

    Excuse any typoes; it’s hard to type wearing mittens.

  15. It’s a New Hampshire thing too. It’s so entrenched into my thinking, having been a New Englander all my life, that even though heat is included in my apartment, I will have flannel jammies and long sleeve and heavy robe on before it even occurs to me that I could just turn up the thermostat and prance about in my tank top and shorts. But then how could I go out and shovel off my car looking like that! Right?

  16. I remember putting my clothes on the end of the bed at night so I could get dressed under the covers, or grab them and run downstairs to get dressed next to the wood stove and finding a icicle hanging from the bathroom faucet. My husband had the heat on today, I shut it off. It’s a battle in my house he turns the heat up, I turn it down.

  17. I always find it ironic that the same temperature that is ideal for summer is suddenly deemed freezing simply because we’ve passed the autumnal equinox.

    Also, I’d not mind if it was a mere $37 added on to my monthly bills to pay for her heat. It’s the $350 bump that bothers me. And then she says things like, “why can’t we afford food?” Because you had to have the house at 90 just because it “looks” cold outside.

  18. I’ve lied to visitors and said something was wrong with the furnace, or I hadn’t gotten it checked yet, and that’s why I hadn’t turned it on yet. See, I moved to the Midwest, and they just wouldn’t understand here.

  19. now I know why I do this! I lived in MA until I was 16. I now live in montana. Our fall has so far been quite warm but at night it drops to 30 degrees or so and in the morning our house thermometer says 60 degrees. I sleep with the window open too. For now. It has been getting into the mid 70s by evening but my husband is such a wuss! He always wants to turn the heat on. I laugh. It’s like a competition in our home. I won’t let him turn it on for as long as I can. I think we made it till close to Halloween last year but then again our winter starts earlier than in MA and the temps get to -32 by Christmas. I still believe in blankets vs turning the heat on even though our heat is included in our rent 🙂

  20. Mainiac here and we’re the same. We’re just hitting sweatshirt weather, saw a guy at the store yesterday wearing knit cap, t-shirt, fleece vest, shorts and sandals (with socks!). I’ve lived in Maine my whole life and never has the heat been turned on before November. Still have the bedroom window open too! If the kids complain, we’d tell them that’s why they have all those clothes we bought when school started! We don’t stand with the door open because we weren’t born in barns and we’re not heating the outside, we don’t stand with the refrigerator door open because we’re not cooling the whole damn house and we turn the lights off when we leave a room because we don’t own stock in the power company!

  21. I don’t feel it’s just a New England thing. I live in NY, and related completely. Such a good read!

  22. Proud to say that, only a few years back, I made it to New Year’s eve. Not last year though, & I doubt I will this year, either…but, what’s life without a goal, huh?

  23. Great article. I turned the heat on last night, “but only for a few hours, just to get that chill off” I said to my friends, like I needed to have an excuse to give in before Nov 1.

  24. When I was a kid living in western NY State in the 1930’s and 40’s we didn’t have a heated bedroom. We used plenty of blankets and knew how to cover our head and leave only a small opening to breathe. In the morning there was ice on the windows….the inside of the windows!
    Thermostat? What’s a thermostat?

  25. I had to laugh and agree. I was born and raised in New Hampshire and you don’t turn the heat on until you absolutely can’t take it anymore. I lived in Bakersfield, CA for 14 months and in January, they were in winter jackets, gloves, hats and scarfs. I’d come walking into work in a light, denim jacket and tell them that they would NEVER survive where I was from.

  26. Laughing because this is so true. My husband had a wood burning stove installed so we wouldn’t have to turn on the heat. Before we had it, he kept the house so cold that we’d be bundled all day long, even in the day time. Now that we have it, it does a great job of heating the downstairs but the upstairs is another story. The kids try to sneak the heat on and get a lecture. Meanwhile we’re sleeping in long johns and sweatpants. But the bills can get outrageous, so the heat stays off. On the flip side of things though, it got so cold here the other night that I tried to turn it on (he was out of town, so I snuck it) and it’s not working. It only blew cold air. This happened last year too. Maybe if you don’t ever use it, that’s not good?

  27. Same here in CT. 8 cords of firewood and have only lit the stove once. The furnace dosent have a prayer until after November 1st. Even then, it’s set at 60 and we let the Fisher stove do the rest of the work. My wife is eight 1/2 months pregnant and had the windows open the other night. I asked her if she was trying to freeze me out. Woke up and the house was 55°. Just another New England October!

  28. To Justin:

    To be honest, I still don’t understand. The OP and comments make it clear that it’s at least as much about pride at not caving as it is about saving money. If it was a purely cost-motivated behavior, I would get it. However, thank you for the comparison. Now I don’t feel so bad sending that check to Xcel.

    I was just over at my dad’s watching the game and the basement was pretty cold. We didn’t even consider not turning on the heat so we could at least watch the Royals choke in comfort.

    To all you easterners, I have heard that during the winter you leave a lawn chair to mark your car’s spot if you have parallel parked somewhere and need to drive away and then return, and that touching a parking chair is grounds for an ass beating. Is there any truth to this?

  29. @Sammy, the parking t hing isn’t just because you had parked there, it’s because you had spent the time shoveling it out. I’ve never lived in an “on-street parking” area so I can’t really relate to that particular northeast lunacy, but the heat thing I’m totally on board with. Heat is effing expensive. The “point of pride” part is partly a show of toughness but it’s much more a pride in frugality I think. It’s surely strange, but so is wanting to live in Minnesota, so… you know, we all have our idiosyncrasies.

  30. Sammy: Having lived in Boston for two years, I can tell you the lawnchair thing during snowstorms is true. And I hate it. I shoveled out my own spot but I never put a chair or cone there to save it. I think that’s ridiculous. It’s not “my” spot, it’s street parking and open to anyone. I’ve seen fights break out over shoveled out parking spots and it’s ridiculous.
    Daddy Files recently posted..Cold Weather, Heating Bills, and Why New Englanders Are NutsMy Profile

  31. Sammy,

    Yes, that is indeed true. Taking someone’s parking spot can get you killed lol
    Well, maybe not killed, but most definitely smacked around a bit!! It’s a pain in the ass to shovel out your spot. To do all that work for someone else just to take it?! Absolutely not.

  32. time to put your big boy pants on, shovel your own driveway, and use the massive savings to heat your home to a reasonable level there, Cinderella.

  33. Pride in frugality makes sense, thank you for that explanation. Also, thanks everyone for the snow parking confirmation.

    Is there any convention about when you stop using the heat? If you’d think shame to turn it on in October, would you also think shame to turn it on in April?

  34. Sure it cost more to heat in the NE, but it gets a heck of lot colder in the Midwest! If you look up Dec average temps, the high in Minneapolis is lower than the avg low in Boston. Even Chicago is about 5 degrees colder.

  35. I spent my childhood on the Cape and moved out after graduation. My parents heated the house with a wood stove. It was freezing in the morning after that fire had burned out. It is still the same when I visit, that thermostat is for decoration only and the extra blankets are in the chest at the foot of the bed. I now live in Ohio and last year the Buckeyes were moaning and crying about the polar vortex. They took the kids out of school for days at a time. “Too cold to wait for the bus outside”.
    I told them that in Mass we could call that weather winter and if it only snows for a few inches overnight we call ourselves lucky.

  36. Dan & anonymous, I am waiting til Nov 1st too! I am not really bundled up yet either, although in here it’s 15C/59F. I have two cats on the bed though, that helps 🙂 Btw, I’m nowhere near New England, not even in the US, I think there are people all over who can relate. 🙂

  37. Cracks me up! I don’t know where the hell November 1st came from but that’s exactly my mantra too. No heat before November. I left the windows wide open overnight last week on accident and woke up to 53 degrees in my room. Heat still stayed off.

  38. Are you serious? Grow some mcnuggets and go learn how to gather to cut/split/stack your own firewood. I heat my house in CT for, anywhere from free (gathered myself), to a max cost of 5-6 cords of wood for $900 to a max of $1200 per year. It keeps our 2000 sq ft cape home at 74 degrees or more, with the exception of the odd deep freeze of 10 or more days that never break -10, in which case it might go as low as 68. Suburban/urban folks baffle me. Why do you bumble through life so unable to master prehistoric skills such as fire?

  39. yes. I know this to be true. I married a Boston boy and when we visit his parents…they have a small space heater just for me. and I have had my heat on for two weeks. and it was 68′ today and I put it to 74. Then I put it down when he got home;)

  40. Loved this! It’s a New England thing. As a native New Englander and now a homeowner, I laugh when I hear myself saying the same things my parents used to say to me – “Just put another layer on! Don’t you dare touch that thermostat!” But it’s soooo true. Although I actually do enjoy the cold–even our harsh New England winters–I even drink iced coffee (Dunkin Donuts, of course) all winter long.

  41. This was such a wicked awesome read. I also go as long as I can before putting the heat on. Then it doesn’t go above 63. I wear shorts and t-shirts most of the time. I love New England.

  42. When we moved into our house in MA, it had no heat in the upstairs bedrooms. We told ourselves we’d get it installed, but then we ran out of money doing other repairs. Got through that winter quite nicely using a fluffy down comforter. One winter without heated bedrooms turned into 29, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Oh, and we leave a window open a little bit all winter long too. Gotta have some fresh air.

  43. I’m a massachusetts native currently playing this game in Norway. The struggle is real and the llbean slippers/ski socks combo is serving me well so far. There was one thing you forgot to mention: the hurried entering into the house. If we accidentally didn’t slam the door to the garage hard enough it bounced open. I can hear my dad’s voice hollering “What do you live in a barn?” as clearly today as if he was standing beside me. Draft control is essential when you’re playing chicken with the thermostat.

  44. I’m up in VT and I was SO ashamed when I had to turn the heat on 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately we are the “we have a newborn” people. I’ve slowly been teaching my Pennsylvanian husband the laws of winter up here.

  45. LOL!!!! No heat before Trick or Treat!! It’s a New England thing, everyone else just doesn’t understand!

  46. On the opposite end of the spectrum…I have my dear old mother here with me (87 years young) who is freezing on a day that is 80, so needless to say we have had our heat on for at least a month (I am still wearing shorts and T-shirts) but everyone else in my family (I can almost guarantee)has not touched the thermostat yet!! Its a New England thing for sure!

  47. I laughed so hard my hot breath steamed up my icy cold eye glasses.
    I have a few candles burning and am baking muffins later, you know – to heat the house…

  48. Haha it’s fifty here in Maine now, been raining the last couple days, and we haven’t touched the damn thermostat yet. Probably won’t until thanksgiving, or later. Gotta love a wood stove.

  49. How about the shorts competition? Have you ever noticed men and boys who compete to see how long they can avoid wearing long pants in the fall and into winter? Definitely happens in Maine. I’ve seen it last as long as January 1.

  50. I’m a very senior citizen, reading all these comments on a 53-degree, cold, rain-soaked morning in southern New Hampshire, in late October. Weather forecast has it staying at 53 today. My oil-fired furnace is serviced and inspected every year, and uses a minimum of 900 gal. per season. With the price of oil close to $4 per gal. and budget payments around $300 per month year-round, heat is not cheap, so we economize wherever we can by keeping the thermostat set at 64 and wearing extra clothing. Still, we have many conversations all winter long beginning after New Year’s Day with, “Can’t wait until Spring!”. I would not live anywhere else, I love the change of seasons!

  51. My teenage son kept turning the heat up. Now the thermostat is covered in packing tape. If there was a way to make it shock him if he touched it I would do it.
    Kim
    NH

  52. We Mainers have this game down pat and we have solidarity with our southern NE brethren.

    I’ve got schedules for opening insulated curtains and closing them again, reflective foil behind the radiators, a system for strategically closing doors and using draft stoppers to shore up various heating zones in the house, and of course the entire family is outfitted with fleece socks on their feets and flannel sheets on the bed. I do as much baking as I can on the weekends when we’re in the house or expecting company.

    NO HEAT TIL NOVEMBER. Longer, if we can manage it.

  53. I love this article. Read it 3 times and a bunch of comments and laughed every time. I’m New Englander through and through, born and raised. When I was single and lived with male roommates we didn’t turn the heat above 58 all winter long. I’m now the guy who says “Well the wife was freezing”. It’s worth it though. 🙂

  54. It does feel like a decadent luxury when we have company coming over and bump the thermostat to 64 🙂

  55. non-sequiter- The article says Native Americans had been here for ‘hundreds’ of years before Europeans arrived. While technically true, it should be ‘thousands.’

  56. So… after three years in my house, I have finally managed to make it to within a week of Halloween without turning on the heat. I admit, last year I would turn it on ‘for the night only’ to ‘take the chill off’. My house tends to stay a little cooler than you would think because of a full cellar underneath it, and a distinct lack of sufficient insulation in the walls and ceiling. (Dang chipmunks and squirrels).

    This year, I can see the light at the end of the proverbial heat tunnel. But only because I invested $90 in a good space heater, which I run at night for two hours to warm the bedroom up. Other than that, it’s blankets, layers and socks.

    I also think that the reason New Englanders tend to cook a lot of baked foods in the fall is because the oven does wonders for heating up the house a few degrees. That and laundry in the kitchen help me stave off the oil heat bills. At about $800 month for oil, I’ll go as long as possible.

  57. 6 cords stacked and ready to go here in Connecticut. Last year only used a half a tank of oil. Downstairs you could wear a bathing suit, upstairs you need your fleecies. There’s is for sure some stubbornness involved.

  58. I have lived in CT all my life- reading this was just hilarious- and true. it is a new england/Tri-state thing. I live in an old victorian house in the third floor apartment. I went for 3 years without having an independent heat source, since the second and third floors used to connect. my prior heating source was the old oven that the apartment came with- circa 1960’s. It was great and cheap to heat. When the oven broke down, I was still getting heat from the 2nd floor heating vent in my bedroom, so i never really thought anything about it until my fiance moved in a few years back. NOw, we have electric baseboards in every room. I REFUSE to turn them on unless extremely necessary, since my heating bill for one month (last January) was $450! It’s not the pride thing, it’s literally (as many of you have already stated) the lack of funds-thing. I’m re-caulked my old windows, lined them with plastic, and yes, i did have the windows open “for some fresh air” these past couple of days. It’s a tough line. I do dream of having a wood burning stove. Alas, this rent is cheap and I will hold out on having to pay higher bills as long as I can. Blankets everywhere, slippers, robes, fleece pajamas. Just in case the temps drop too low.

  59. Each year I try to make it to Nov 1st before turning the heat on. This year has been easier than most in southern New England as the temperatures has been milder than usual

  60. Man, this just made my day! Thanks for the good laugh, you are really funny and I presume fun to be around too (I should ask the wife I guess lol) And if that makes you feel better, we don’t live in New England but we’re also super “thrifty” lol
    P.S 60 here right now. High five!

  61. Bob: OK, sure. I’ll pick up and move the family with money we don’t have while simultaneously pulling my oldest out of school with all his friends and removing us from our family who all live in the area. Boom — problem solved.

    Thank you for that insight. I had never really considered it before, but it’s all clear now.
    Daddy Files recently posted..5 Ways to Treat Kids With Stuffy NosesMy Profile

  62. lol, so true…just to a look of nov bill and got a pinch of reality check it’s creeping upward and it’s not going down for the next 7 months…:( I enjoyed your article, thank you for sharing.

  63. I loved this! I was laughing out loud! I used to always think my Dad was crazy for making us put on extra sweatshirts and blankets, and did not understand why we couldn’t just put on the heat!!! Well now I get it…paying for my own heat with no roommates to split it with ….

  64. I don’t worry about the electric bill or the natural gas. Almost 4 years ago I exercised my right to choose and picked the largest direct seller of energy in the world: AMBIT ENERGY. I’ve saved money vs what I was paying ConEd ever since. PLUS each month I get a FREE ENERGY CHECK from Ambit that pays for all or most of my supply charges. Want to see a copy of my bill? email me. Want to investigate your savings? Visit http://grahamco.myenergy101.com and see for yourself. JD Power has awarded Ambit #1 in customer satisfaction and the BBB rates Ambit with an A+

  65. I grew up in NH in an old colonial. we had no heat upstairs so it was not unusual for the bedrooms to hit the 40’s.
    Now i own a wonderful center chimney cape and frickin oil heat. i also do not turn on the heat until after 11/1. I am a quilter and knitter so each bed has 2-3 quilts and a down comforter as well as really heavy flannel sheets. (i bought fitted sheets to fit the bed, but the top sheet is one bed size larger – no short-sheeting that way!) we have 2 space heaters, one for upstairs, one for downstairs. we turn on the heater in the bedrooms for a half hour before we go to bed (move it from bedroom to bedroom). My teen son strips down to his boxers if the house is warmer than 64 degrees (the thermostat is only turned that high when people are visiting). I am not paying to heat my house so my son can walk around in his underwear. it’s 60 when we are home, 58 when we aren’t or at night. I burn the fireplace everyday i am home and bake A LOT during the winter. Oil is expensive, extra layers are not. oh, and homemade knitted wool socks help! (and fingerless gloves, wool hats, sweaters, etc)

  66. I live an hour south of West Yellowstone. It gets colder here than New England. My heat has been on for a month. It is just stupid to be cold for the sake of not wanting to turn the heat on. This makes no sense. Seems to me common sense left New England and went out west.

  67. After years of freezing cold, caulking, weatherstripping, plastic on the windows and extra doors, dripping faucets, extra socks, extra sweaters, beanie hats, layering, shoveling, scraping, salting, stacking, firewood and pellet mess, constant bickering about heat turn-on and -off dates and temps, budget-wrecking oil bills, miserable commutes…this Massachusetts girl moved to Tucson! I enjoy reading this while safely removed from such miserable torture. If I’m really prepared, I can make it to Jan 1st without turning on the heat. We can still play that game here, but the stakes aren’t as big 🙂

  68. Wow! We freeze where we are, not a very well insulated place at all. We put plastic on the windows, we bundle up in layers, and the price of oil is ridiculous! I see your point however…I could never let my kids freeze like that. Like i said i tell them to bundle up…But when its freezing cold in here….The heat goes on for them!!! It may not be 80/90 in here, but its not 20/30 either. Way too little to live that way. Its just my OPINION but my heart goes out to your children (and wife)

  69. Love the article and all the comments. It reminds me of when I was a New Englander. Now I am a migrated New Englander (34Yrs in Northern California). That means we don’t turn the heat on until December and only to warm the house up for an hour and a half before bedtime. We layer up just like Aaron does and if it is really cold we use our mountaineering down sleeping bags in bed and for lounging in the living room….Our California neighbors think we’re crazy…

  70. I was born and raised in Vermont and I will eventually be buried in it’s stoney clutches when I pass. I also grew up in the real Vermont, the North East Kingdom. There are several things I can say about my people with certainty. They are tighter than the skin on a popcorn fart and they HATE being cold. My father is a perfect example. He built his own house with enough insulation to protect the space shuttle. He has four 275 gallon oil tanks, a furnace that burns both natural gas and coal and a bare minimum of ten cords of rock maple stacked behind his house. He chooses how he will heat his house in July, buys whatever is cheaper and never looks back. On a normal February day when it is -20 outside his house is at least eighty degrees. The cast iron Castle stove in the kitchen literally glows red, hot enough to melt steel. He might not “Turn the heat on” until mid-November but when he does it’s no joke. The best you can hope for is a pair of shorts and a window seat. Don’t ever tell him you’re cold. You’ll pass out in a pool of sweat and wake up in April.

  71. I’m from MA and now live in Switzerland, an equally cold and snowy place. And I grew up in a home where if we complained of the cold we were told to put on another sweater and I carry on that proud New England tradition nearly half a century later. A couple of years ago on a frigidly cold February night, my husband and I went around our apt building here trying to get neighbors’ signatures to oppose the opening of a brothel in an adjoining building (can you imagine the noise?!) and a young couple in the building opened the door and the wife had on a spaghetti string cami and shorts and the husband a tee shirt and running shorts. I nearly fainted from shock and have never quite recovered.

  72. Used to be a Minnesotan; been in Mass for 6 years now.
    1) MN houses are usually way more insulated… cause, you know… -20F is a reality
    2) MN heats on natural gas for the most part – MA can’t get the pipes run the majority of the time due to lots of things including large amounts of granite
    3) Everything you can heat with in MA is expensive!

    My wife would love it if we kept the house at ~80F, but she would cry when she saw the electricity bill every month.

  73. I’m frikkin freezin right now and I DON’T CARE! I drink Ice Coffee every morning, no matter what. Drinking hot coffee is reserved for sat. and sunday mornings. I have my air conditioner still in one window, and another window that is open three inches in my bedroom. I don’t know why I do this…but its not time yet to mentally admit that its cold…that’s why.

    It costs me $800 per mo once it gets cold (which to most New Englanders means Jan. and Feb) to heat this friggin 114 year old New England Colonial that my wife “fell if frikkin love with”, and now we are in the midst of the “suck it up and deal with it” part of the year. Our bodies can just absorb cold somehow here, (Its science!)…and we are also cheap bastards in this part of the country too.

    Trying to get us to put on the heat before “it’s time”, is like trying to get Bill Belichick to answer a question that he don’t feel like answering after a Pat’s game…its not gonna happen. I am from Mass. I am a Masshole. Though I now live in the suburbs and have a nice long driveway, as a former street parker…and somebody that knows what it is like to shovel two feet of snow, added to by another six inch top layer of ice that gets thrown up against the cars by the plows…I agree that anyone who takes a shovelled out parking spot…deserves the beating that they get.

    Masshole for life! Love my New England brethren…It really is like a country within a country. We have our ways…and we don’t care who likes them!

  74. If you want to add to the hilarity of this post, consider what happens AFTER New Englanders turn on the heat. After the house dropping below 50 degrees and the owner not turning on the heat, once he or she gives in, every little dip of temperature is met with a twist of a thermostat. It’s 64? Why didn’t the heat kick in? TWIST! Once the decision is made to maintain a certain temperature, that’s it. They might suffer multiple nights in the fifties in October, then once they turn on the heat they never let it get anywhere near that low. Weird.

  75. Dumbest thing ever. The thermostat is like a $#%!$ magical on/off switch. Go ahead and set it really low if you are trying to save money. Leaving you’re heat truly ‘off’ just proves that you’re an ignoramus who can’t figure out something as simple as a thermostat.

    I’m a life long New Englander (just not a idiot)

  76. You Noo Englanders are Week and Greenhouse dvellers. Here in Norway, vee don’t turn on the heat unteel it’s minus 40 degreez. In the intreem, ve boil the kippers and da steem heats our houzes… Urshka bursha burshka bor… umm bork bork bork.

    Sven

  77. have to love this….grew up in a house where our father owned an heating & air conditioning suppply company but we had no heat on the second floor of our house. To top it off we were a family of fifteen children! We would run as fast as we could to get to the heat on the first floor once you got out of bed. A hot bathroom was like heaven. Steam….Ahhhh….warmth! In the summer we would use a cold towel to cool us off in the because it was so hot…you hit it on the head….great fun to read. I froze so much as a child I make sure that if I am cold I don’t suffer I turn my heat on!

  78. I grew up in an old New Hampshire home, 30 miles from the Canadian border. No heat up stairs so when you got up, you grabbed your cloth and ran down to the foot of the stairs in your underwear before you stopped to get dressed. In my early 20’s I was in the Army and on my way to Oklahoma, stopped to visit family in Louisiana in January. I was walking around in a T-shirt while everyone else were in winter parkas complaining about the cold.

  79. I grew up in Massachusetts and have lived in Connecticut for many years. NO HEAT before November 1st. We have plenty of sweatshirts, blankets, etc. We also have a space heater that we can move from room to room so, even once the heat goes on, it stays low in the rest of the house. A few years ago the electric company started printing the usage for the past twelve months on our bill. We took that as a challenge and we pride ourselves when the current month comes in lower than the same month last year. Not cheap, but we can go on a vacation with what we save by layering up during the winter.

  80. This epic battle is being waged in my home as we speak….I’m winning. Actually, that’s not really a true statement since I already won this war several years ago and all that happens now are a few feeble rallies from the defeated. My guess is he hopes I will forget what month it is……Never!!
    Maura Troy recently posted..A Little Spring Fling Writing ChallengeMy Profile

  81. In a related vein, I used to own a Tracker convertible, and I wouldn’t put my top up until the first snowflake fell (rain notwithstanding). One year it didn’t snow until late December, and I ended up driving around in a snowmobile suit at 18 degrees. I’m not so crazy now…

  82. We wear three layers in the house, and as long as my nose is not running, it’s not too cold.

  83. It’s a New England thing. I live in RI. And do the same. Will be no problem waiting until Nov 1 this year. So I’ll ty to make it until the 15th-lol!

  84. Not to mention the cost of snow removal (minimum $50 per plow visit) depending on the length of your driveway.

    a real friggin’ new englander either has a plow, or they shovel that shit. no chance in hell that my family would pay 50 bucks to have the driveway plowed

  85. We won’t turn the heat on until the threat of frozen pipes is real, but I sure will load up the wood stove until we can forge steel. The dogs…I do it for the dogs…

  86. I love this! I am a hot blooded person in NJ who detests the heat. I keep the thermostat set at 58 during the day when I’m at worl. I will put the heat on 60 in the evening, then back down to 58 when I got to bed. When company comes to visit, I will put the heat on 62, at which point I put on a shorts and a t-shirt because I am sweating. Company usually complains “they’re cold” and I turn offer them blankets or the coats they wore in.

    The real hell is in the office, people want the heat on 75..why???? I will never understand why anyone would want heat beating down on them. I feel like I am in a convection oven!

  87. I take my hat off to you all. I’ve googled how to stay warm in the snow and stumbled across this and enjoyed reading. I live in Australia, have never seen snow but am heading overseas shortly and am expecting a rude awakening of what it’s all about.

    I can relate tho to the hold off for turning on the heat, for us it’s turning on the ac, going to be bout 34 here today (95 ish your temp). But once you turn on the ac it’s on for the season just about.

  88. New England thing, I guess. Several years ago I requested fro Christmas a 4XLT heavy duty sweatshirt (which my lovely daughter was nice enough to give ma as a gift). With this sweat shirt -cum-sleeping bag, a pair of sweatpants and a small Jameson Irish whiskey, we have no need to turn the thermostat on until the outside temp is somewhere south of 40 degrees….and if its sunny and south of 40 the ‘stat stays off. I had my oil man upset last year because he couldn’t believe we went from October to mid- January on one fill-up of heating oil (he thought I was buying from someone else!!)

  89. Just thought of this blog post because my three year old son came up to me with his hat and gloves to plead with me to help him put them on because he was “so cold” at 1:00 in the afternoon. It’s gonna be a long winter, kiddo.

  90. Having your air conditioning system break down in the middle of the summer heat is something you want to avoid. The best way to keep the unit running is by conducting routine maintenance. This will keep your home comfortable even when it is hot outside

  91. I didn’t realize that waiting to turn on your heater was a badge of honor in New England. I would much rather just turn on the heat. Then again I am not from New England. This was really fun to read. Thanks for sharing.

  92. I was laughing so hard at the conclusion to this post: “Sure my kids are growing weaker by the second and my wife is seriously considering cutting me open like a tauntaun and using my innards to keep warm, but seriously — where would you rather be during winter? New England winters feature blizzards that cripple the local economy and bankrupt municipal snow removal budgets as your power goes out causing you to buy a generator which you use to power your TV so you can watch the Patriots game instead of heating your house. Now compare that to the cloudless skies of southern California where perpetual temps in the mid-70s make Christmas on the beach a reality. No contest, baby! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need another pair of socks because I can’t feel my toes.”

    Haha! It’s so true! My neighbor from NH went from November to January without getting her heater repaired thanks to that stubborn pride against the heater. We don’t even live on the east coast, that’s just where he’s from.

  93. I have a Peruvian wife who loves this shitty cold weather, and I, hailing from CT who should be used to it by now am already looking forward to next July. Anything below 75 I start to get cold. I’m seriously aiming to become successful enough to spend winter in Florida. I LOVE the heat. Even the humidity. You can always cool down but when it’s cold there’s that one part of you that’s always cold.

    So, I’m the one making the majority of the money but my wife wants to wait till December to turn the heat on. I’m freezing and telling her I’m going to start sleeping in the car with the engine on and she’s like “go ahead” even though that’ll cost more and kill the car. I think I’m going to have to get more space heaters and electric blankets or something. This is nuts. SHE can opt to block off the heat in the bedroom but would rather I freeze and be miserable than have the heat on. Fuck it. I’m ordering 100 gallons of oil tomorrow.
    adam smith recently posted..Got a new (used) car =)My Profile

  94. Excellent. I especially love the part: frugality + stubbornness = an unwillingness to turn on the heat!

    Notwithstanding that I often work at home and it can be bitterly cold in the house without heating. I occasionally use a portable space heater which can really help to take the edge off. Perhaps you could trade your extra pairs of socks for a small personal heater. You don’t have to let anyone know!

  95. Completely enjoyed your writing! All in the day of a life of a new englander during winters. But I feel being thrifty is allright, its better not to splurge but cut all the corners and save outrageously to have a comfortable life during sunset years.
    Ron Pickle recently posted..How Clogged Gutters Cause Roof LeaksMy Profile

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