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Portland family takes part in chilly challenge

Portland family takes part in chilly challenge

by Teresa Yuan


Posted on December 17, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 18 at 11:52 AM

PORTLAND -- Some households across the country took on a chilly challenge this season. The goal -- to see how long they could go without turning up their furnaces this winter.

One Portland family took on the "low heat" challenge and encouraged others to try it, too.

"Part of why I am so frugal is this house is a money pit," said Katy Wolk-Stanley, part-time nurse and mother of two, as she showed KGW a tour of her Southeast Portland home built in the early 1900's.

Wolk-Stanley personified 'frugal living'.

"I started the 'no heat' challenge on September 27th," said Wolk-Stanley. She wrote a blog called "The Non-consumer Advocate" and lived by her words.

"This is just a hot water bottle. Fill it with hot water if you feel like your bed is cold," said Wolk-Stanley.

The 'no or low heat' movement tested her family's comfort level, while also tightening their budget.  "I want to show my kids that you don't have to have a lot of money to have a satisfying life," said Wolk-Stanley.

Similar challenges popped up across the country, via the internet, from New Jersey, Connecticut, Oregon, and California to Washington on blog sites which asked people to lower their thermostat.

The Wolk-Stanley's story and others have made national headlines, including an article in USA Today.
They set their thermostat at 57 degrees at night and 64 during the day. The family advocated many different ways to keep warm, like using a space heater, flannel sheets and down comforters.   
"It's so heavy and so warm my step-mother had been baby-sitting and said it felt like an X-ray blanket," Wolk-Stanleysaid, holding up the blanket on her bed.

Plus, she got creative with the insulation in all the bedrooms.

"These are blinds I made from old maps to keep the room pretty warm," said Wolk-Stanley.

She hoped others would warm up to her 'no heat' examples.

"Give it a try go down two degrees and see if anyone notices. See if you notice it yourself and look at your utility bill and see if you saved some money," said Wolk-Stanley.

Northwest Natural officials advised that it's best not to set thermostats below 55 degrees.

Also, officials said customers should lower their thermostats by 10 degrees over an 8-hour period, instead of making sudden changes.  A good time to make the change is when you're sleeping away from home. Doing so, could cut 10% off a heating bill, experts said.