How do you keep warm and conserve energy?

March 05, 1998|By Dennis Shaw

Dennis Shaw

Well, I've been put in my place. No doubt about it.

In my last column I wrote that I keep my house cool to save energy, and I mentioned that the highest my thermostat had ever reached was 70 degrees. I should have added that such occasions were only when I had sick or elderly visitors, but I didn't. So I have no excuse.

Anyway, one reader who didn't leave her name on my answering machine called and set me straight. She was very nice about it. She said she reads all my columns, and she even called me "honey," so she got on my good side right away.

But then she said, "You got to me with your 70 degrees. Honey, that is warm!" And she had evidence to back that up: "I keep my house so cold that I hold my breath before I'll sit down on the commode seat because I think that sucker's cold!"


Two other readers told me about their "thermostat wars." Every time the wife walks past it, she turns it down, and every time the husband gets near it, he turns it up. In both cases, the wife is the warm-blooded type and the husband the cold-blooded type.

I can relate to that, but I also have mixed emotions about it. In principle I'm all for the lower thermostat, but I'm the cold-blooded type.

That's why I wear at least two sweaters and a hat in the house.

I'd like to do something to change that, but I don't know what. I'm pretty sure I inherited it from my mother.

I wish the first caller had left her name, because I'd like to ask her more about something else she said.

"You're gonna have to learn to have a warm inside," she said. "If you keep your inside warm, you won't even need all those clothes, honey. But please, you're living in never land if you think 70 degrees is cold."

I started working on my inside to make it warm, but I haven't had any luck yet. I tried closing my eyes and thinking warm thoughts - of Caribbean beaches, or cactus and parched cattle skeletons under a blazing desert sun, or about the time I used to work for Manbeck Bread and spent all day in a closed room taking hot bread pans off a conveyer belt. But none of that helped.

I looked in Norman Vincent Peale's book, "The Power of Positive Thinking," but I couldn't find anything there about body temperature. I've never seen any hints on the subject from Heloise or Ann Landers, either.

I'd be interested to hear thoughts or ideas from any of you readers, on any of these weighty topics. Is 70 degrees cold? How about 65? 60? How can coldies live happily ever after with warmies? But most of all, how can I learn to have a warm inside?

Any comments would be appreciated; you can write or call me at the address or phone number below.

I'll be happy to share any ideas I get in a future column. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, the power of positive thinking can help cut down on our energy use and we won't have to worry about global warming after all. I wonder what it could do about pfiesteria?

Dennis Shaw is a former Herald-Mail editor. Write to him at P.O. Box 276, Clear Spring, Md. 21722 or call 301-842-3863.

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