Winter for us is a rather strange time of year. Like everyone else we've been blasted by the crazy weather we've had this year. It turned our normal 3 and a half hour trip home to an 8 hour ordeal due to an ice storm that hammered the southern part of Maine a couple days before Christmas. To top it off, my family was among the thousands who didn't have power for days (5 in our case). Because we're a hardy bunch we still had a wonderful Christmas with meals cooked on and in my grandparents cook stove and spent a lot of time talking with no tv in the background with I can't complain about. It was an old fashion Christmas and it was pretty awesome in a lot of ways.
Both before and after the trip home for the holidays we've been dealing with some serious cold temperatures. From what I've read it was the coldest and snowiest December in 5 years where we are and has been described to me by locals as the definition of an "Old Fashion" winter. I wouldn't mind it so much but it certainly alters our particular lifestyle. Because of the way this house is set up, it's an extreme pain in the ass to keep warm during those cold spells. There is a soap stone wood stove in the living room which does a great job keeping that end of the house warm. However, because of it's location almost none of the heat makes it's way to the other end of the house. Another issue with it is that the living room was an add on by the previous owner and was stick built and insulated properly while the other end of the house was a very roughly built log home. I spent a good deal of time this summer re-chinking it (what the sealant in a log home is called) but didn't get it completely finished. (We didn't have the funds to rent a lift this year and working at the top of a 25 ft ladder was a no go). It's mostly done and has made a huge difference but there's obviously some heat loss. At the log end of the home there was also a porch that was added on but the geniuses who built it negated to insulate the damn thing. The porch is also open to the who house so it's not possible to simply close it down for the winter months. Intelligent move in this climate.
So we have the wood stove in the well insulated end of the home and at the other end a propane fireplace/stove thing that may work in a small room but not in such a large area. In the addition (which is now the wife's pottery studio) there's a pellet stove as well. On the really cold nights we also need to run an electric heater in the basement to insure the pipes don't freeze. So what does it mean for us? It means we run the house in shifts. One of us is up during the day and the other stays up all night to tend the stove and make sure all is well with the electric heater. This is obviously hell on all of us. Since I take Jimmy to hockey games and such Marilyn has been doing the majority of the night shifts though I've done a few here and there when she's had a rough day (or night for that matter). It's a very interesting way to live to say the least.
Though it's a pain in the ass to live this way, I have certainly had the opportunity to educate myself on different things home heating related! I done a lot of things I'd never done much of; insulating a floor, hanging plastic over exterior windows, banking the house with snow, chinking (which by the way I don't ever want to F***king do again!), cleaning chimneys and fixing and cleaning pellet stove. Yes, it's been a couple years of education regarding homes and extreme weather. Lesson's I'm going to be very happy to apply to my own home further south as soon as possible!. :)