gnu, LOL! @ "Frostbite may occur within ten minutes before you go out."
We've had a very chilly February. March isn't looking much better, the Prediction for tonight is -28C. Fortunately it usually warms somewhat during the day. Today it was -12C and sunny. I was comfortable out on my deck in the sun for about ten minutes, soaking up some Vitamin D on my bare arms, while I was taking some photos.
The programmable thermostat is set to 19C from 11 pm to 5 pm. If we are at home and awake during the day, we usually will increase to 20C. At 5 pm it warms the main floor of the house to 21C. The house is very well insulated, windows are all double paned During a sunny day, the large south facing windows will provide ample heat that the furnace doesn't come on while the sun is up in the south, unless the outdoor cold is extreme. We pay close to a total of $1000 for natural gas (this includes many surcharges and taxes) for the six snow months from November to April. About $180 of that would be for heating water (and surcharges and taxes).
I've made a supply of cotton bags, each filled with 2 pounds of organic wheat. These can be heated in the microwave. Several of these are used daily in winter, in the bed and for warming up after being out shoveling snow, etc.. The rest are available for use by house guests. It's amazing how quickly grandchildren will settle and fall asleep with a warm bag to snuggle.
Susan, you asked:
How cold do you reckon it would have to be, in your place, before you'd call for help? What would you do in the meantime?
I don't know how or whom we could call for help? We have no family here. I'm assuming if there were a power outage everyone else would be in the same predicament as us, no help there.
If the problem was ours only, such as when our furnace motor stopped running in January, as soon as we noticed that we had no heat (it was about 18C in the house), we called the plumbing company who sent a repair person within 30 minutes.
Our winter contingency plan:
~ if there is electricity, move into a small room, close the door and use electric heaters.
~ if there is no electricity, move into the family room. Close the room doors. Use the wood fireplace for heat, light and cooking until the power comes back on. If the problem persists, turn a tap on a tiny bit to keep pipes from freezing.