The Heating “Game”

Kyle and I have an annual tradition, a “game” of sorts. We try to see how long we can go without turning on the heat in our living quarters.

This all started back in the ’90s when we lived outside of Boston. We were young and foolish, living on the top floor of a 4-family. We lived the high life with minimal wall insulation but newer windows, mooching heat off of the unit below us. One year we made it until Thanksgiving without budging the thermostat off of 40 degrees. We declared sweet victory.

Then we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia for grad school and the game got even easier. There we lived in an apartment building where we were flanked by apartments on both sides and below us. Warmer weather, three units to mooch from, what could be better? We actually made it to the Christmas break with no heat and then fled to Vermont to visit our parents and live off of their heat. Again, victory!

Next we moved to Hartford and found our home of choice. A fantastic 3,200 square foot colonial built in 1910. Wonderful, original wavy glass windows. Plaster walls full of character. High ceilings. Cast iron radiators. And essentially no insulation. And no one to mooch off of. Our game was about to take a cruel turn.

The first year was a rude awakening. At the beginning of October I was complaining about being cold. The thermometer in the house was reading 57 degrees. Kyle told me to suck it up and put on more layers. We made it until the third week in October that year before declaring defeat and turning on the heat. To a scorching 62 degrees. For the rest of the heating season. Awesome.

The second year we decided to be proactive and invest in a wood fireplace insert for our living room. We had dreams of heating the entire first floor with our fireplace insert. Sorely mistaken. The high ceilings and drafty windows sucked out much of the heat. We were only able to keep the living room comfortable by closing the pocket doors. The rest of the house remained frigid. More blankets and flannel sheets were purchased. The heat was again turned on at the end of October to the magical 62 degrees.

Years three and four replayed much like year two. We began to notice that friends refused to come to our house in the winter months. They insisted we visit them. People that did stop by would wear extra layers and sometimes bring blankets. It was embarassing.

While this used to be a game, I now see it as a painful realization of living with a cheap b@$tard. When October hits and the temperature in the house drops to 56 degrees, I start whining. Kyle will not give in though. He tells me to put on an extra layer and throws a blanket at me. I’m tired of 62 degrees. I want 66 degrees.

Does anyone else purposely go through this nonsense? I need a nose cozy.

While this is a “fun game” for Kyle and me, many people struggle to afford a minimal amount of heat and this is no laughing matter. There are places to turn if you need assistance with heating costs in Connecticut. The state has designed two heating assistance programs, run through the Department of Social Services, which assist qualified homeowners and renters; the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and the Contingency Heating Assistance Program (CHAP).

Both programs determine need based on household size, income, and liquid assets. Eligible households can start receiving aid beginning on November 3, 2008. For further information and to determine if you may qualify for heating cost assistance, you can visit the DSS website at or call the DSS winter heating assistance line at 1-800-842-1132.

Additionally, Connecticut Natural Gas and Connecticut Light and Power offer various Winter Protection Plans and Matching Payment Plans. If you are having difficulty making your heating payments, call CNG at 860-727-3555 or CL&P at 1-800-286-2828 to see what programs they offer and if you may qualify for additional assistance.


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