Monday, January 7, 2013

Living in Minnesota: Or, Why We Need a Furnace

Normally, I'd have written another post about Benedict XVI's "Caritas in Veritate." I've been going through a part that discusses environmental concerns, energy and other resources, and the contrast between the way things are: and the way they should be. ("Caritas in Veritate," 49)

When I talked about what the Pope had to say about how energy resources with my wife, she pointed out that we need quite a bit of energy around this time of year. We live in central Minnesota, it's mid-winter, and she's right.

Living in Minnesota: Hot, Cold, and Everything In Between

I enjoyed living in San Francisco, but the climate there was boring. Summer was a little warmer than winter, the city has statistically significant variations in precipitation through out the year: but it was never particularly hot or cold; and the single lightning bolt in the city during my 18 month stay was front page news.

I grew up near the Minnesota-North Dakota border, and have spent the bulk of my life in central Minnesota. The climate here is not boring. The family spends a few hours in the basement each summer, waiting for word that a tornado has passed. More than a foot of snow falls during most winters, although that varies from one year to the next.

Minnesota winters aren't always cold. Montevideo, a bit south of us, got up to 69 degrees Fahrenheit during January in 1981: on the other hand, Embarrass got down to −57 Fahrenheit one January day in 1904, and was that low on January 21 and 22 in 1996 and 1996.

Minnesota's weather is not boring.

More about Minnesota's climate:

Remembering to Close the Door

My area's climate encourages common sense. I doubt that many folks living in Minnesota leave their front door open during winter. Open doors and windows aren't the only way folks can lose heat, though. Although my wife and I have found and plugged the obvious gaps in our home's insulation, most years we find new ways to heat the house more efficiently.

What we won't do is get a 'sustainable' house like the one built by Nathan Good Architect. That remarkable residence produces more energy than it consumes.

More accurately, we can't achieve that sort of 'sustainability.'

I read about Nathan Good Architect's amazing sustainable house a few years ago:
"...I did a little checking. Sure enough: that house had to be designed to stand up to the rugged extremes of Oregon's coastal climate. That's a part of the world where temperatures soar, on average, to a torrid 69 degrees Fahrenheit in August, and where residents must brace themselves for a frigid 38 degrees Fahrenheit in January: again, on average...."
(Apathetic Lemming of the North (August 4, 2009))

Minnesota isn't Oregon

If those temperature 'extremes' were all we had to deal with: we might not even need a furnace.

As it is, my part of the world sometimes goes from 69 degrees Fahrenheit to 38 degrees - above zero - in one day. That sort of Oregon coast 'sustainability' simply isn't an option here in Minnesota. Not with today's technology.

Circumstances, Foreseen and Otherwise

I expect to have a "Caritas in Veritate" post ready for next Monday, barring unforeseen circumstances. I'd have had one today, but spent the week dodging the flu and enjoying an Epiphany-weekend get-together with family.

It was time well-spent.

More posts about "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth)
"Caritas in Veritate"

More-or-less-related posts:
More, about Epiphany Sunday:

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