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Have you acclimated to a colder climate?

 
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My dream is to one day have a homestead. I still have a long way to go saving up money and learning certain skills etc. In my exsploritory search of best states with cheap land that are great for homesteading I have found some like Wyoming and Montana that interest me. But they are very cold over the winter. How hard is it to adapt to a much colder climate?? Have any of you done it?what's your advice? Where I live now in Mississippi it snows maybe once every 3-4 years but the summers are very hot and humid? Thanks for any and all input!
 
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In my experience it's a lot easier to adapt to a hot climate than to a cold one (I've done both, currently live in the hot climate and am planning a move to an even hotter place....), but I admittedly hate the cold.
I moved up to the snow belt for college, and I imagine it was much easier as a college student than it would be for a homesteader (while I complain a lot, I could always go to the library or coffee shop to warm up, even when my slumlord locked the thermostat at home).... I never had to deal with frozen pipes or go break open the animals' water. I do remember one time fearing for my safety during a blizzard, wondering if I was going to make it home with all my fingers and toes (and I won't even get into the pleasures of driving in ice/snow/sleet). Cold can be a scary thing.
 
pollinator
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yeah i'm trying to figure out if i can. i'm looking to move, and i am looking to move somewhere stupid cheap, and all those places are zone 6---> and down. seriously, this question has been on mind. i may just dive in and then see if i can hang, with the whole thing turning upside down if i decide i just cant hang?

i suppose on my side is that i grew up in new england, so i know what it is, i even spent 2 winters way up in vermont.
which was pretty extreme not just for cold, but for the time period of winter...where just after halloween it starts to turn into winter and your like WTF?
where i grew up in new england though its like the florida of new england =) a big south facing hill basically...that juts out into the atlantic, the south coast of mass. so we are 6b - 7a ...even some spots are 7b in growing zone. where i am looking mostly is western mass in the berkshires, and even southern vermont and new hampshire. i just dont know...if i really should just...make myself try and see if i can deal.
when i first decided i wanted...well all this =) homesteading, and growing food and living close to the land, and without a lot of resources to invest, or any !!! actually...well it made sense to me that meant go somewhere warm, warmer, definitely warmer than vermont. i did love living in vermont for that time...but yeah that extreme...it was a big part of why i felt i had to move on...and that was like...many years ago now.

so i have lived in zone 9 and zone 8...but like pacific north wet zone warmish juneary...and for the last bit been wintering in south coast mass, zone 6b. its ...well i am ok ish with it, but thing is ...gardening and farming and all outdoor stuff...well i am back to what i remeber from being a kid. you just...dont go outside unless you have to in winter, winter is for crafting and books and research and chatting with people, and of course, binge watching stuff to catch up on =)
 
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Back in the early 80s I moved from central Illinois to northern MN.  To word that another way -53 f.  I lived there for 4 years, then moved to the southern tip of Illinois. Latitude wise, I am south of Frankfort KY.

Frankly, I loved the north country and miss it very much.   But, temp alone does not tell the whole story.  We had summers when we never got warmer than 90.  The insects were bizarre. There were day I would step outside and choke from inhaling gnats, mosquitos, and/or deer flies.  Even though my cabin was well insulated (36" in ceiling, 7" walls), on the coldest days we would have sheets of ice forming on the interior walls.  I found out my friends, who claimed to have no problem heating their homes, kept their houses at 55 to 60 degrees.  Most of my time was spent in winter, recovering from winter, or getting ready for winter.  I remember having snow in  mid June.

I am not trying to scare you off; I can see me living in the north country again. But it is a different universe.
 
master pollinator
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Tereza Okava wrote:In my experience it's a lot easier to adapt to a hot climate than to a cold one  



I wonder if that is a genetic thing, or personality based, or ?  For me it is exactly the opposite.  I moved to a very hot climate and it took me years to acclimate.  I moved to Wisconsin where it is bitter cold, and the first year I dressed like I was in the arctic  After that first winter, I was fine.  Now I wear a long sleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt in any temperature down to 30 degrees or so unless it is damp or windy.  We have temperatures below -20F nearly every winter and sometimes much colder than that.  The cold never bothers me until it hits those extremes.

For me, if you are cold, you can always just dress warmer.  If you are hot, you can only take off so many clothes.  
 
pollinator
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I do think that there is a genetic component to temperature adaptations.  Some people just handle heat better than others.  Managing a cold climate has more to do with learning how to dress and manage your home heating in order to stay warm and comfortable, IMO.  I grew up in the coldest part of Alaska, and cold weather doesn't phase me at all.  It's not because I don't get cold, but because I learned from an early age how to survive in a cold climate.  

It really helps, if you are moving to a cold climate, to have an experienced mentor to help you find the right clothing (especially foot-wear) for the climate, and to help you learn the survival tips and tricks that you'll need.  Things like, if it's way below zero, and you are working outside, you should have a buddy with you and frequently check one another for signs of frost-bite.  And don't ignore your toes!  Don't get damp; if your clothes get wet or even damp from sweat, change them for dry.  Things like that.  Understanding the wind-chill factors, watching the weather forecast closely, and so on.  

We are in south -central Kentucky now, and the summers here are about as hot as I would want to have to survive without AC (which we don't have in this old house).  My dad lived in Alaska pretty much his entire adult life, and I remember him saying that he'd been up there so long he couldn't handle the heat anymore.  But I suspect that one reason he chose to stay up there was because he had a hard time with hot weather to start with.  In other words, he didn't lose his heat tolerance because he'd lived in a cold climate so long, but stayed in the cold climate because he didn't have much heat tolerance to start with.  I suspect our distant ancestors probably self-sorted based on heat-tolerance, among other things.  Just something I've pondered on from time to time.
 
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I live in Colorado so it's not quite like Wyoming or Montana though there are some similarities. To get acclimated to the cold it really helps to get out into it often. I've always found it easier to dress for really cold vs. really hot. I also know that just because my fingers or toes feel cold I'm not going to get frost bite well assuming we don't get stuck out in the mountains overnight while snow shoeing.
 
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote: Managing a cold climate has more to do with learning how to dress and manage your home heating in order to stay warm and comfortable, IMO.



I completely agree with this. It gets chilly where I live. -20C is a cold day around here, and anything below -30C is considered a very chilly day and most people stay inside. Averages are between -10C and -20C.

The vast majority of people who complain about the cold either make no effort or have no idea how to dress properly. The key, especially when you're being active, is layering. A big puffy jacket is great for walks and other low activity things, but for shovelling or other things that get your heart pumping you'll want more small layers instead of one big puffy one. Much more versatile in my opinion.
 
pollinator
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John F Dean wrote: I found out my friends, who claimed to have no problem heating their homes, kept their houses at 55 to 60 degrees.  Most of my time was spent in winter, recovering from winter, or getting ready for winter.  I remember having snow in  mid June.



Yep,.....just outside of Fargo-Moorhead, this is still our norm -- we do not set the thermostat above 60 F and it normally is about 55 F.  We run a woodstove on the main floor to supplement the forced-air oil-burner furnace in the basement.  My wife grew up in central Pennsylvania and seems as home in these temperatures as I am having grown up in Minnesota.  Currently we consider ourselves "scarily blessed" to have had temps since Christmas hovering between zero at night and 40 F by day...unseasonably warm!
 
pollinator
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The warmest place I've ever lived was Maryland, where my husband is from. The cold in Chicago bothers him more than me. For me, I am fine with "ordinary" winter cold--below freezing but not much below zero.  I actually noticed when I lived in Washington DC that I felt colder there than when I would go back to my parents' in Minnesota.  In the midwest, it is mostly a dry cold (and the lower the temperatures, the drier the air, usually).  Wear reasonable clothes for your activities and it's not so bad.  But DC/Maryland tend to have this damp weather hovering around freezing that is just bone-chilling, and there I felt like I could never stay warm.  Give me a powdery blizzard at 15 degrees fahrenheit over rain at 35 degrees any day.

The dark of winter is another thing. It's definitely worse in Europe, since they are mostly north of the most populated parts of North America.  When I lived in Estonia, the sun never really cleared the treetops in December, those 5 hours when it was "up." My saving grace was a beach facing west, so at least you could stand and watch the sunset mid-afternoon.  Here in Chicago the days are not that short, but still really gets to my husband since he grew up more south.
 
pollinator
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I'm of the assumption that anyone can adapt to the cold, it is innate in our evolution as humans. You can condition simply by finishing your normal routine of shower with cold water for two or three minutes. Before you know it, your circulation will be better and you wont get cold feet and hands when the temp drops inside.

However, the cold can be miserable from a Permie point of view. I can't wait for spring to start planting, taking care of indoor plants is just not the same. I would love to live in a region with a winter I can garden through, but thats the price for solitude.

ice.PNG
Getting acclimated with the Pups
Getting acclimated with the Pups
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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John Weiland wrote:

John F Dean wrote: I found out my friends, who claimed to have no problem heating their homes, kept their houses at 55 to 60 degrees.  Most of my time was spent in winter, recovering from winter, or getting ready for winter.  I remember having snow in  mid June.



Yep,.....just outside of Fargo-Moorhead, this is still our norm -- we do not set the thermostat above 60 F and it normally is about 55 F.  We run a woodstove on the main floor to supplement the forced-air oil-burner furnace in the basement.  My wife grew up in central Pennsylvania and seems as home in these temperatures as I am having grown up in Minnesota.  Currently we consider ourselves "scarily blessed" to have had temps since Christmas hovering between zero at night and 40 F by day...unseasonably warm!



At this moment, in the second-warmest room in the house, it's 53 degrees F.  (My daughter's bedroom is a little warmer.)  We dress in layers, wear caps in the house, and have space heaters focused on our usual sitting spots.  I don't have a wood stove hooked up yet -- the stove is sitting in the barn until I find someone to check the old chimney and make sure it's safe.  I will be glad to get that working again, but we do have a propane heater in case of power outages.

That's something that I think is extremely important in cold climates -- having some kind of back-up heat that will still work if the power goes out.  Power outages may be rare, but they do happen, and if it's forty below (F), and you have no heat in your house, you will quickly be in trouble.  Especially if there is a blizzard or some other reason you can't leave for a warmer shelter.  So having a back-up heating system is not just a good idea, it is essential for survival.  And, of course, if you lose heat at those temperatures, your pipes are going to freeze, and your toilet will freeze and probably crack (it's a good idea to keep some anti-freeze to pour into it just in case), not to mention whatever food you have stored.  
 
Silas Rempel
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Thanks everyone for commenting. Y'all have given me a lot to chew on. Thanks!!
 
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I strongly prefer cold to warm, and adapt better going from warm to cold than vice versa. I absolutely adore winter. I find it easier to dress for -10 to -20 C than +5 to -5C.

I spent some time up in the high and low arctic in winter for work, working outdoors for much of the day. It's all about how you dress, and spending enough time outside for it not to be a shock to your system. After a week or two, you end up working outside in a tshirt and gloves  in -20C since it feels warm. When I came back south to a southern Ontario winter, it took me longer to adapt to the 'sweltering' 0 to -5C weather!

I visited relatives in Europe one summer, and ended up in +38C. Only a few degrees warmer than Ontario temperatures (but no AC). I got heat stroke. Could not stand the temperatures.

I am somewhat considering moving to Alberta, north of Edmonton. Land prices are cheap, taxes are low, you don't have to have AC in the summer, and you can cross country ski and skate in winter, with consistent snow/ice cover. The soil's better than in northern Ontario, too. The only advantage I see to living in a warmer climate is the lengthened growing season and larger numbers of things you can grow. Only thing holding me back is friends/family in Ontario.

With good insulation, there is absolutely no reason to be cold in a house during the winter or see ice on the walls! Our current house (parts of it are circa mid 1800s) is kept at 21C during the day, 18C at night, with the bedrooms probably 15C with a really terribly setup central heating system someone cobbled together. My house growing up, heated solely with wood, was toasty (25C) in the living room and back kitchen if that fire was on, and cool upstairs (15C, dropping to 0 C overnight at the coldest). There was almost no insulation, and the wind practically blew through it, but I never once saw "ice on the walls".  The house before that was kept at a constant temperature with a furnace on each floor, and modern insulation. Very few Canadians keep their houses colder than 18C in the winter, most are about 20-25C.

Anyway - I'd say go for it! Just budget ~$1000 for winter clothing (a good parka, long underwear, good mitts, good boots) and picking up an outdoor winter hobby in your first year to make your first northern winter a good experience.
 
John Weiland
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:  I don't have a wood stove hooked up yet -- the stove is sitting in the barn until I find someone to check the old chimney and make sure it's safe.  I will be glad to get that working again, but we do have a propane heater in case of power outages.

........ So having a back-up heating system is not just a good idea, it is essential for survival.  And, of course, if you lose heat at those temperatures, your pipes are going to freeze, and your toilet will freeze and probably crack (it's a good idea to keep some anti-freeze to pour into it just in case), not to mention whatever food you have stored.  



Kathleen S.,    It might be good to check the building codes in your area about the chimney.  I think our codes specified that the original chimney, up which at one time ran the exhaust for the only wood cook/heating stove for the house in the early decades of the past century, would not by itself qualify for use with our woodstove when it was installed.  We would need to install a chimney liner for it to be used.  Instead, we opted to go out the main floor wall with the chimney pipe, then up through the lip of the roof with class-A chimney pipe to reach the height required by code for the pitch of our roof.  So the point being that if you have an acceptable or even more desired place for your stove installation, you may not have to bother looking into using the older chimney.

I don't know what the price of electricity is in your area, but we additionally are considering an 'in-duct' electric heater, -- one that fits into the duct-work from the furnace that could provide heat if the main furnace was out.  Our concern here with the furnace in the basement and the woodstove on the main floor is that no amount of warmth on the main floor would keep the basement pipes from freezing if the furnace was out.  But an electric 'duct heater' might provide just enough heat to the basement to keep the pipes from freezing.  Maybe........
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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John Weiland wrote:

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:  I don't have a wood stove hooked up yet -- the stove is sitting in the barn until I find someone to check the old chimney and make sure it's safe.  I will be glad to get that working again, but we do have a propane heater in case of power outages.

........ So having a back-up heating system is not just a good idea, it is essential for survival.  And, of course, if you lose heat at those temperatures, your pipes are going to freeze, and your toilet will freeze and probably crack (it's a good idea to keep some anti-freeze to pour into it just in case), not to mention whatever food you have stored.  



Kathleen S.,    It might be good to check the building codes in your area about the chimney.  I think our codes specified that the original chimney, up which at one time ran the exhaust for the only wood cook/heating stove for the house in the early decades of the past century, would not by itself qualify for use with our woodstove when it was installed.  We would need to install a chimney liner for it to be used.  Instead, we opted to go out the main floor wall with the chimney pipe, then up through the lip of the roof with class-A chimney pipe to reach the height required by code for the pitch of our roof.  So the point being that if you have an acceptable or even more desired place for your stove installation, you may not have to bother looking into using the older chimney.

I don't know what the price of electricity is in your area, but we additionally are considering an 'in-duct' electric heater, -- one that fits into the duct-work from the furnace that could provide heat if the main furnace was out.  Our concern here with the furnace in the basement and the woodstove on the main floor is that no amount of warmth on the main floor would keep the basement pipes from freezing if the furnace was out.  But an electric 'duct heater' might provide just enough heat to the basement to keep the pipes from freezing.  Maybe........



I am fairly sure that the old chimney needs to be lined with pipe before it would be safe to use.  It hasn't been used for at least thirty years....I hadn't thought about putting the stove in a different location; will have to think about that.  This house is a square divided into four equal-sized rooms (with the stairs taking a chunk out of the down-stairs bedroom), and the existing chimney is right in the center, which is a pretty good location for a stove, for distributing heat.  But we could probably make another location work well enough.  

The house never had a furnace or any ducting.  The people I bought it from had been using one of the unvented propane wall heaters; I've put in a newer one in a different location, but prefer to reserve it for emergencies.  The house would be easier to heat if all the work on it was finished -- it's been partially gutted (to make re-wiring it easier).  There was no insulation at all in the walls, and only a small amount has been installed so far.  That's something I'm slowly working on.  Next winter should be a little more comfortable, although it's actually not uncomfortable now.  I think it's a matter of what you are used to, and being dressed for it.
 
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There is dry cold and damp cold as some have touched on. I am a Wet Coaster - the damp makes cold weather significantly "colder". On the relatively rare times we get sub zero (Celsius) I find -5 to be WAY colder than -35 on the prairies where it is a "dry" cold. The only time I experienced frost nip (precursor to frost bite) was when I was outside in Saskatchewan on a sunny -35 day where I FELT much warmer, and wore less clothes, then I would at home in BC at -5. I absolutely marveled at how "warm" I was when outside, during that prairie visit; it was my first comparison of damp cold versus dry cold.

Wind is also a significant chiller - much more so then actual "air" temperature; likely why "wind chill" factors are commonly a part of weather reports.  

I guess what I am saying is don't focus so much on the thermometer, and more on the actual climate when assessing how "cold" a place is.

That all said, I HATE heat, simply can't cope! I feel like I am suffocating when I visit someone who keeps their home/business above 20C, can't stand saunas or steam rooms either. Yet have no issue, even below zero, just wearing a long shirt/nightshirt to do outside chores - so long as it is not windy or rainy. If windy/wet/snowy I toss on a wind/waterproof jacket and I am still fine, with bare legs, often in slippers, even in the snow.

Summer, when it starts creeping above 25C my comfort level drops, ESPECIALLY in spring when we often have a sudden spate of 30+ days! As spring rolls into summer, my tolerance does creep up slightly, but anything above 30C is a struggle, the few weeks of high 30's is intolerable. Every room in our home has a massive 40 inch ceiling fan, we have lots of small, high windows for ventilation; heavy, insulated curtains are religiously closed during the day, thermometer monitored, and as soon as the outside temp is lower than inside all curtains and windows are thrown wide open for the night. In the morning, as soon as the outside temp is higher than inside, the window lockdown is implemented.

Fortunately we have heavily insulated 2x6 walls, and 36 inches of attic insulation, large, overhanging eaves and double paned windows. There are just a handful of days the internal home temp grows beyond 26C, without AC of any sort  In winter, the electric furnace kicks on for no more than an hour in the AM, and when chilly, again around 7 or 8 PM, based on the settings on the programmable thermostat.  Inside temp in winter is 19C during the day; 15C over night.

Oh, and don't forget a locations propensity for natural disaster: fire, drought, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake... I am personally comfortable with earthquake, not so much with Tornado's! Flooding, fire, meh, I can plan and really mitigate these, but drought or hurricane, not so much. Others would have greater or less levels of tolerance for these issues. It is important to consider your personal comfort levels, and ensure you factor in the cost and work involved to mitigate these potential issues.

Understanding the climate, proper clothing and a snug, insulated home are the keys in ANY location. I highly recommend spending the time and money to camp, rent a home, home swap etc for a 2 week "vacation" in locations you are considering moving to. Ideally, experience ALL four seasons in this manner, it really is the only way to truly understand if the climate is a fit for any person.  Some may view this as an unreasonable expense - my feeling is it is money well spent to avoid the massive effort of establishing yourself in a new location if the climate proves unsuitable, for whatever reason. Better to fully test the waters BEFORE making a massive commitment, especially if considering an off the grid/permies lifestyle. It would be heartbreaking to invest years and countless thounds of hours of toil to conclude the location is just not working for you...
 
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I grew up in the Colorado mountains and love winter but I also love a hot summer. The coldest I ever remember being were those few winters I spent in Chinese metropoles where it was wet, cinder block insulation, and you wouldn’t see the sun for weeks. I recommend investing in a quality pair of snowboarding pants for your outer layer and wearing those everywhere. As I type I’m currently wearing the only pair I’ve ever owned I bought when I was 16 (20 years ago): men’s Salomon’s. I don’t know about fashion but men’s clothing and boots are warmer and seem to be more practical, in my experience. What also kept me from freezing in China that I would love to see in the US (but doubt I ever will) were the public bathhouses. People would stay there all day and cleanse themselves of pollution and cold. Of course there are hot springs in the western US but I’m talking places to go in the middle of a big city, accessible to all.
 
John Weiland
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:  .....This house is a square divided into four equal-sized rooms (with the stairs taking a chunk out of the down-stairs bedroom), and the existing chimney is right in the center, which is a pretty good location for a stove, for distributing heat.  But we could probably make another location work well enough.  



One thing we may also be a bit lucky with is winter sun.  Our floor plan also is a 'box'..... 900 square feet (30 X 30) farm house with basement and second floor, built before indoor plumbing, electrical, and ducted heating.  We too have a central chimney that was deemed okay for the exhaust from the furnace, but would not meet code for the woodstove.  Sadly, the south side of the house is where they opted to put the staircase...running upstairs along that south wall.  (Yet this was by design since a south-facing door went strait to the outhouse....which was perched right on the riverbank! :-? )  Because of this staircase, it negated the possibility of retrofitting that south wall with a nice bank of south facing windows.  Nevertheless, since the stairs end on the main floor right where the old parlor was and since the previous owners removed the walls that divided the space on that floor, we installed a large french door that opens out onto a deck.  With the angle of the sun pretty low, on a clear day that room heats up nicely....and since the thermostat is in that room, it keeps the furnace turned off on clear days. In the heat of summer, the angle of the sun rarely puts much direct sunlight into that room.  So if there is any chance that your location enjoys decent winter sun, it may be worth installing some south-facing windows or increasing the number and area of window space that would help with daytime warming.  Personally, I feel it almost criminal up here that some nod to passive solar is not written into building *requirements*.... but that's just me. :-)

Edited to add:  As an old farmhouse, it had small, single-pane windows.  The room with the french door also was retrofitted with a large west-facing bay window, increasing room exposure to afternoon winter sun.  Big difference for light (mood!) and warmth in depths of winter.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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John Weiland wrote:

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:  .....This house is a square divided into four equal-sized rooms (with the stairs taking a chunk out of the down-stairs bedroom), and the existing chimney is right in the center, which is a pretty good location for a stove, for distributing heat.  But we could probably make another location work well enough.  



One thing we may also be a bit lucky with is winter sun.  Our floor plan also is a 'box'..... 900 square feet (30 X 30) farm house with basement and second floor, built before indoor plumbing, electrical, and ducted heating.  We too have a central chimney that was deemed okay for the exhaust from the furnace, but would not meet code for the woodstove.  Sadly, the south side of the house is where they opted to put the staircase...running upstairs along that south wall.  (Yet this was by design since a south-facing door went strait to the outhouse....which was perched right on the riverbank! :-? )  Because of this staircase, it negated the possibility of retrofitting that south wall with a nice bank of south facing windows.  Nevertheless, since the stairs end on the main floor right where the old parlor was and since the previous owners removed the walls that divided the space on that floor, we installed a large french door that opens out onto a deck.  With the angle of the sun pretty low, on a clear day that room heats up nicely....and since the thermostat is in that room, it keeps the furnace turned off on clear days. In the heat of summer, the angle of the sun rarely puts much direct sunlight into that room.  So if there is any chance that your location enjoys decent winter sun, it may be worth installing some south-facing windows or increasing the number and area of window space that would help with daytime warming.  Personally, I feel it almost criminal up here that some nod to passive solar is not written into building *requirements*.... but that's just me. :-)



I would love to do something with passive solar.  Haven't quite figured out how to arrange it yet.  The back of the house faces south; both front and back of the house had narrow porches which have been enclosed, and the back porch has been turned into a utility room/pantry.  It has a glass storm door and two windows, all facing south, but doesn't seem to add much heat to the house.  I think it's mostly because the back yard is well shaded with several old black locust trees -- even though they don't have any leaves at this time of year, they still block quite a bit of sun from the house -- and we don't seem to get a lot of sun in the winter, anyway.  I'm reminded of Oregon Coast winters.  But we are very thankful for the shade in the summer, so I'm reluctant to cut the black locust trees out.  I have thought about adding an attached greenhouse off the back porch, but am not sure it would get enough sun to do much good.  

Another possibility, remote at the moment for several reasons, would be to build another dwelling on the property, where it would get more winter sun.  This falls in the category of "I would really LIKE to do this, but it's not feasible right now."  If I had (lots of) money to spend, I would probably build an earth-bermed house between this house and the larger of our barns, as there's a good location for digging such a house into the slope where it would face south-east.  Even without money to spend (much), I could do a tiny house, probably with cob walls and floor, inside our other barn.  With the equipment doors open, if I set the new dwelling back a few feet into the barn, it would give us a covered and partly enclosed outdoor living area, which would be very useful during much of the year in this climate.  I am considering this, but will have to experiment and see if it's something I can tackle with any real hope of finishing it, because I have a bad back and working with cob entails a lot of bending and stooping, not to mention lifting and shoveling.  And there are other things that need to be done more urgently.  If I did it, though, it would be mostly off-grid, with some solar-power.
 
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Lots of different experiences and great tips in this thread!

I think that cold showering can help to adapt the body to lower temperatures but it can only do so much - I use this routine for many years but still suffer a lot in winter.

My very logical but yet unproven theory is that our bodies have a kind of inner thermostat that gets "set" in adolescence. In my adolescence I lived in the Middle East (Tropic zone) and coped very well with the high temperatures. Everything under 22 C was cold to me and spending the summers in Germany was a challenge (although I loved the lush green everywhere!).
Back in Germany at 15 years old I was wondering how I was going to survive winters! It took me very long to have a more relaxed way with cold weather and low light.

What helped me was attitude and going out, but on my own terms: With lots of clothing and walking briskly. It was torture to be outside in winter when my children where three little kids/babies who walked in slow-motion (or not at all) and I would freeze in situ.

I still do not like winter and envy those who can enjoy a mild spring with all kinds of flowers and veggies and who can harvest lots of of tomatoes or have their own peppers and eggplants or apricots, figs and peaches. Unfortunately with older age I have lost the tolerance to heat and have difficulties being outside when it is over 30 C (not very often here but increasingly over the last 3-4 years due to climate change).

Our houses do not have AC; with the very strict building codes all houses have efficient heating and insulation, double pane windows (since 2014 every landlord has to publish the energy efficiency of your building), no power outages. It is very tempting to stay nice and warm inside, too much so.
My children hardly go out in winter and complain a lot. Of course, if they spend their free time with their electronic devices, often in bed!
I do not remember that I ever felt cold as a kid playing outside in the snow.

Having said that, I still think that there are different "strains" of human types and some can adapt better to warmer weather and some to colder weather. I sometimes wonder how humans ever could leave Africa and go to live in unfriendly places like Middle/Northern Europe or the Arctic circle!
I sometimes dream of a place that is somewhat milder than Bavaria but still not too far out, like the Eastern part of Austria, Central Italy or similar. But there are lots of arguments against moving. All in all, I live in a great place with some degrees below my personal preference and too short a planting season.
 
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Our family moved from zone 8B (Georgia) to Wisconsin in 2017. We lasted one winter there and decided we were NOT meant for the cold! We got the heck back to Georgia just as soon as we could!

I haven't noticed anyone mention that the pest pressure down here in the south seems worse. The harsh winters cull out many of the pests and parasites, I've learned.

It's a trade off. Do you want to deworm your animals more often and live with geckos swarming your eaves in the summer? Or shovel snow. It's a personal choice, I think.
 
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John Weiland wrote:

Kathleen Sanderson wrote: Our concern here with the furnace in the basement and the woodstove on the main floor is that no amount of warmth on the main floor would keep the basement pipes from freezing if the furnace was out.  



I don't think you would have to worry.  It may be worth the experiment just to see.  At my lady's former house, we turned off all heat the the basement for four days just to see how cold it would get.  It was well below zero outside.  The basement never got below 50 degrees.

 
Mk Neal
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I agree with Trace regarding basements. Your basement is essentially a man-made cave, and in Kentucky it should not freeze below a heated house, with the caveat that freezing air from the outside (e.g. near leaky window or door) might cause very localized risk of pipes freezing IF they are not being used regularly.  Insulate windows/doors and any bare pipes near the outer walls.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Mk Neal wrote:I agree with Trace regarding basements. Your basement is essentially a man-made cave, and in Kentucky it should not freeze below a heated house, with the caveat that freezing air from the outside (e.g. near leaky window or door) might cause very localized risk of pipes freezing IF they are not being used regularly.  Insulate windows/doors and any bare pipes near the outer walls.



The passage about a basement was from within a quote in my post, I think -- we don't have a basement.  Wish we did!

 
John Weiland
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Trace Oswald wrote:

John Weiland wrote:Our concern here with the furnace in the basement and the woodstove on the main floor is that no amount of warmth on the main floor would keep the basement pipes from freezing if the furnace was out.  



I don't think you would have to worry.  It may be worth the experiment just to see.  At my lady's former house, we turned off all heat the the basement for four days just to see how cold it would get.  It was well below zero outside.  The basement never got below 50 degrees.




That sounds like a "proper" zone 4b basement ;-) ..... which ours isn't.  After so much insulation removal by rats over the years, combined with saturated clay heaving and buckling/cracking the basement walls, we joke in the spring and summer about our basement floor:  "A River Runs Through It..."   Literally.....from the high water table.  What that translates to in the winter time are 'rivulets' of cold air that stream down into the basement on the really bad days....i.e., Alberta Clipper winds and -40 to -50 F windchills.  It won't matter under these conditions about water lines usage unless we want to keep several taps running thoughtout the night....those running along the wall will freeze if there is not supplemental heat.  But you would be right.....this is a 'bad' to 'worse-case' scenario.
 
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