Y'all would be perfectly normal if you wondered WTF is going on here at Chez Kat™ that we allow our house to be so cold. Here is what I wrote to a commenter who raised that question yesterday:
Our heating system -- forced air warmed by a ground-water heat pump -- is on the interruptible (off-peak) grid. The power company can turn off the power for 4 hours in any 24 hour period. The cost/kilowatt hour is about 2/3 of full price, and our power company -- the only one we can get electricity from, of course -- has the highest rates around. As soon as the temp goes much below zero we can count on the power being off for 4 hours during the peak demand time between 5 pm and midnight. Today they took the unusual measure of also turning it off early in the morning -- Smokey said it was 57 in the house at 5 am -- probably because the forecast is for warming and they do not think they will need to turn it off later today. The whole situation is exacerbated by the fact that our remodeling is not done, so there are more leaks than there should be.
We like it cool, we are cheap, and thus... 49 in the house. It does make for good horror stories, no?
In northern Minnesota where I went to high school, -26℉ was not unusual. Heck, I remember going skiing when it was -20℉ and not understanding why my mother thought I was nuts. (For the record, I understand now.) Some schools would close if the temperature hit -40℉, but not mine :-( To this day I do not understand why not -- our school district was 60 miles across and pretty desolate in some areas. Kids might have died, or at a minimum suffered frostbite and/or hypothermia, if a bus had broken down out in the woods somewhere. I don't think that ever happened, but still.
I shall always remember a little story my dad told my mom and me one bitter January morning. Dad was a mink rancher, and January through March was his slow time. Mom was a first grade teacher. During the cold weather Dad would warm up her car every morning and move it from the garage to a spot right by the front door.
One morning he did his usual thing and thought to himself, Pretty nice out here today. Then he looked at the thermometer and discovered it was 20 below. He laughed at himself as he came back inside.
It just shows that everything is relative. Twenty below was mild compared to minus thirty or worse, plus the sky was clear and there was no wind.
Note re: today's title. One of my high school teachers used to tell us that his vision of hell was not fire and brimstone; nay, to him hell was being on a windswept field at 2 am on a January night. Yep, that would be hell alright.