Lessons learned from my crappy apartment

One of the very important lessons I have learned from living in my crappy dungeon (read: north facing basement apartment) is to never, ever live in an old building where the heat in the apartments is dependant on the main heat being turned on. This is especially important if you live in the basement and you don’t get enough sun to heat up the apartment during the day.

My building is old and uses hot water heating. If the heat for the building isn’t turned on, then none of us get any heat. In theory, this just means that the superintendent might have to switch and heat on and off a few times during the Spring and Fall to accommodate the variable weather. The problem is that temperature can change drastically in Edmonton very quickly, but the temperature in the pipes takes a long time to adjust (either to warm up or cool off). Also, my super is a bit of a slacker.

Last month the temperature varied wildly – from scorchers to cold, rainy days. There were a few too many random days where it was too cold for comfort in my apartment. I tried to migrate to warmer places on these days (ex: the mall), but I would eventually have to make my way back home and try to find a way to stay warm. I don’t have a space heater and I don’t want to buy one as I don’t plan on staying here for another winter, so on the coldest days, I had to resort to using my oven to heat my apartment. With the addition of my fan (to circulate the lovely warm air) this was a surprisingly effective (thought not energy efficient) way to keep my apartment bearably warm.

Unfortunately, my energy consumption tripled (from an average of 60 kwh to about 180kwh). I don’t mind having to pay the extra $10-15 for the power use, but I like to try and keep my carbon footprint as small as possible, and this is a bit of a blow to my otherwise lower than average energy use.

Let this be a lesson to everyone: saving money on rent is great, but maybe that extra bit of rent is worth it in the end. I would be significantly happier in an apartment that was less annoying.


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