The cold reality of a chilly mate
My wife is frigid and of course she blames me. This is a fairly recent phenomenon. Six months ago, “frigid” would be the last word that might be used to describe her.
Unfortunately, much is not the same since then. First, what was once a comfortable Indian summer has turned into a “butt-cold” winter.
That, in itself, is not the culprit in my mate’s frostiness. She’s lived here too many winters to be chilled by an ambient temperature of 20-below-zero.
If I were to lay blame it would have to be a two pronged accusation of my cheapness and cel Energy’s huge rate hike.
According to reports, the price of natural gas has increased 75 percent in the last 12 months. You might think this would also be reflected in the cost of Mexican food, but that’s not the case.
Since we heat our home with gas and that price has almost doubled, I’ve been on a campaign of conservation.
It has always been my fiscal philosophy that while it is difficult to control how much money you earn, you do have some control over how much you spend.
My past money-saving programs have been buying powdered milk, biking and walking rather than driving and trying to use both sides of the toilet paper.
My wife hates dry milk, drives to the bathroom and won’t even discuss my TP suggestions. She was less than willing to compromise in terms of the setting of our thermostat. Finally, after much pleading on my part, she granted a meeting to negotiate.
Both of us agreed that a household temperature of 68 was comfortable. From there, we offered our various suggestions of a setting we could live with. I said 50, she countered with 65. For the first time in our marriage I won. We set the heat on 55.
The compromise has had many advantages and only a few drawbacks. Though the rate increase would normally almost double our bills, we now pay about 30 percent more than this time last year.
By the same token, our electric usage (mostly by the refrigerator) has also gone way down. We now put items in the fridge to warm them up. Food left out on our counters doesn’t spoil, and house guests seldom stay more than one night.
The only drawback I should mention is the cold temperatures will drain romance out of a home like a pair of 2-year-old twins with colic.
To combat this, I went out and bought a space heater, strategically placed in the bedroom. When love is in the air I turn on the “breeder heater” to preheat the boudoir.
Now, this is something that cel will not tell you. You only need to heat the room in which you’re likely to find love-congress; save the garage for summer use.
My mate has been putting up with my program of conservation begrudgingly. We turn down the heat when we know we’ll be gone for the day and when we go to sleep at night.
One problem we’ve encountered is the shock of climbing between sheets that are as cold as a gas meter reader’s heart.
We’ve looked into an electric blanket to preheat our bed before turning in, but were told that studies have linked electric blanket use to brain tumors.
Until I can research the comparable cost of treating a tumor to the price of utilities, we’re holding off.
There is very little the consumer can do to protest. We all must simply deal with it, and wait for the rates to decrease. The bigger questions are: why, how and when.
Why has the cost of heating our homes risen so high?
How will the poor cope with this rate hike?
When is it likely to change?
For the why question, the opinions are as diverse as the politics of those who hold them. My liberal friends blame cel for greed and the Bush administration for cronyism with the energy producers over the concerns of working class voters.
My conservative friends (one who works in the natural gas industry) blames my liberal friends for their hypocrisy of demanding cheap energy, while in the name of the environment, making it difficult for the energy producers to produce.
I’m not sure who I believe. All I do know is that with this huge increase, the rich can afford it, the poor must endure it and those of us in the middle must do the best we can. That being the case, I think I’ll end it here. I just heard the “breeder heater” fire up – duty calls
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America,” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA and KSMT radio and read in several mountain publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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