Author Topic: Tips for more Northern Climates?  (Read 2077 times)

mmcold39

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Tips for more Northern Climates?
« on: May 03, 2018, 11:20:00 AM »
Hey everyone, I'm new to the site but have been living the money mustache life style for some time. While there are a lot of good tips for reducing costs, there isn't too much related to more northern climates.

I live in the Canadian prairies so we have snow and freezing temperatures from Nov-Apr and then +30 degrees temperatures in Jun-Aug. This obviously creates some situations that aren't realistic such as biking to work and using public transit. I am also planning on getting my own home soon and was wondering what I could do cut costs in winter and get around not needing AC.

So does anyone have any tips or saving advice?

PoutineLover

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1140
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 11:38:14 AM »
I live in Quebec, we have very cold weather and lots of snow from about Dec-March. I am not hardcore enough to bike all year (I find it dangerous to bike on busy roads when there's lots of snow) but luckily we have a good public transportation system so I can buy a monthly pass for the 4 worst months. I would suggest living close to work so you can bike or walk most of the time, or take a bus.
It gets hot here in the summer too, but I don't like AC so I just don't use it. I have a couple fans in my house and I open some windows to get cross ventilation. If you just don't have it, you get used to the ambient temperatures and plus going outside doesn't feel as bad. In the winter I put the plastic wrap over my windows, it saves a bunch in heating costs.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13599
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 11:39:47 AM »
30 degrees is tolerable without air conditioning if it's not too humid.  Fans are a big help, as is having a place where you can open up the windows at night to let the hot air out.  What kind of humidity levels do you get during the summer?

Snow and freezing temperatures are fine for cycling, but excessive use of road salt will require additional cleaning and bike maintenance.  How much snow/ice are you talking about?  You'll have different tire needs for slogging through a foot of fluffy stuff vs a couple inches of slush.  You can also purchase studded tires that work very well in icy conditions.  Disc brakes make stopping much more sure-footed in harsh winter conditions too.

Prairie Stash

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1764
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 11:40:59 AM »
Insulation works in the summer just as much as the winter. Then of course having a larger house always increases the cost of both and smaller homes are cheaper. My heating cost (middle of the prairies) is about $600/year, hot water is another $100/year. Is that a lot, you can judge. AC in the summer isn't something I track much, I don't see much summer time increases, its usually fall when I do canning that my bill increases. I would guess $40-60 for AC as a high estimate. A well insulated home doesn't need AC, night time cooling is prevalent on the prairies, look at the summer low temps for a comparison (not just the daily highs).

Pretty much everything else is the same in Canada or the USA; we just need more insulation.

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 11:55:05 AM »
Move. cold sucks.

mmcold39

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 12:08:38 PM »
What kind of humidity levels do you get during the summer?

How much snow/ice are you talking about? 

It's dry so that does help.

Biking isn't realistic. If there was only a few inches it wouldn't be bad, but there is a foot plus of snow. Not to mention the snow is plowed to the side of roads on larger streets and residential streets become one lane.

gaja

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1194
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 12:55:42 PM »
I live in Norway. We have winters. Snow in June is not uncommon, although it usually doesn't stick.

I'm lazy, so I prefer not to bike during the coldest months. But an increasing number of friends and aquaintainces switch to spiked tires and continue biking during the winter months. We rarely have a foot plus of loose snow on the sides of the roads or bike paths - it usually gets flattened quite fast by people walking, biking, or skiing. When we lived higher up in the mountains, my kids would ski to and from school October-April/May. A few times, just for fun, I used a sled to work. But the fun only works downhill - it got a bit tiresome to haul it back home. Sure, there are always a few days a year when the weather is completely horrible. One time, we got 50+ cm of snow during 3 hours. My bus got delayed, and I was late to work, but it didn't matter since we didn't get any customers that day.

Do you really get a foot of fresh loose snow every day? Or is it a different type from our snow, so it doesn't get packed and hard after a few hours of traffic?

Why isn't public transport realistic? I know the buses often have trouble starting when it gets below -30 Celcius, but how often does that happen in your area?

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1369
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 01:25:31 PM »
We have a small house without central AC. We have a couple of window units that we install and use during the few really hot weeks of summer. We find that we don't really need them otherwise. The downside is that fully air-conditioned buildings always seem so chilly in summer.

In winter, we keep the thermostat at a maximum of 68F/20C during the daytime (cooler at night) and seal the windows with clear plastic sheeting to reduce drafts. We also added several layers of insulation in the attic when we first bought the house. If you can, buy a house with south-facing windows to take advantage of the southern sun in the winter months. We were too clueless to look for that feature when we bought our house but lucked out anyway, as the two biggest windows (kitchen and living room) are south-facing. It makes a huge difference in terms of warmth in our most commonly used rooms and general well-being during the darker months. We also keep lots of blankets in the living room and bedroom.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13599
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2018, 01:38:11 PM »
20 degrees is pretty warm.  We usually keep it around 17 (62 F) and it's fine in the winter if you put a sweater on.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1369
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2018, 02:02:52 PM »
20 degrees is pretty warm.  We usually keep it around 17 (62 F) and it's fine in the winter if you put a sweater on.

I work at home and have trouble with body temperature regulation in cold weather (probable autoimmune disease, still working on diagnosis). 68F/20C is about as low as I can go during the day with long pants, thick socks, a long-sleeved shirt plus sweatshirt or sweater, and sometimes a scarf.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1369
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2018, 02:05:32 PM »
20 degrees is pretty warm.  We usually keep it around 17 (62 F) and it's fine in the winter if you put a sweater on.

I work at home and have trouble with body temperature regulation in cold weather (probable autoimmune disease, still working on diagnosis). 68F/20C is about as low as I can go during the day with long pants, thick socks, a long-sleeved shirt plus sweatshirt or sweater, and sometimes a scarf.

In other words, YMMV. I'd rather not spend the day shivering.

And apparently I hit "quote" instead of "modify". Apologies for the double-ish post.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 02:12:07 PM by OtherJen »

SunnyDays

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2018, 02:22:27 PM »
I live on the Canadian prairies too.  Here's what I've found helpful:
- get an energy audit from the hydro company, the kind where they do the blower-door test.  This will give your house an eco rating and they will tell you what you can do to improve it.  They might also offer a grant for some kinds of work, like insulation and new windows.
- triple pane, gas-filled windows make a big difference in both heating and cooling. 
- basement insulation is a priority over attic insulation if you can only do one at a time.  If you're doing the basement yourself, use 2 x 6s.
- well-fitting doors and of course storm doors and good weather-stripping are important.
- ceiling fans help a lot with both cooling in summer and pushing heat down in winter.
- large shade trees around the house help a lot.  Deciduous on the south, conifers on the north.
- bungalows with basements are better that 1 1/2 or 2 story houses.
- larger lots keep houses cooler in summer, due to more air space and less material to heat up.
- yes, south-facing windows are good.  Also, avoid north facing windows and especially, doors.
- an attached garage is better for temperature regulation than a detached one.
- a high-efficiency furnace is more cost effective than a mid or low-efficiency.
- lastly, beware of making your house TOO airtight, or you may have humidity problems.  When I had my eco-audit done, the hydro guy said my house was amazingly airtight, and said I should think about a HRV unit.  I decided against it, since the door gets opened enough times in a day to avoid any problems.

elliha

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 401
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2018, 02:43:11 PM »
I live in northern Sweden so we have long cold winters with a lot of snow. I have several colleagues who just put on snow tires when winter comes and ride their bike to work more or less every day. I tend to stop riding my bicycle around October 1 due to cold triggered asthma because around that time it starts to be around freezing and I start taking the bus. I alternate between buying 30 day passes and 30 ride passes depending on the the time of the year. For example usually I buy two 30 day passes that covers early to mid October until early to mid December. Then because of Christmas and me often working more from home around this time I buy a 30 ride pass. That will last until about mid January when I will go back to 30 day passes until mid April. I will then buy a 30 ride pass and alternate between cycling and the bus depending on the weather. I usually buy a 30 day pass once this one expires which will then last me the rest of summer and early to late autumn depending on the weather and my needs. Where I live this the way to make the bus costs as low as possible while still going to work (which I prefer to working from home) as much as possible. It might sound overly complicated when reading about it but it really isn't in real life.

We live in an apartment with heating included so we do nothing to keep the temperature down. It is still only about 20C max and I really don't enjoy any colder than that. AC is not really that common here so in summer you open an window, plug in a fan or just suck up and suffer through any heat spell.

Other frugal points are clothes. I tend to avoid buying top of the line winter clothes, often mid-range will do fine for my needs at least but I may spend a bit more on good shoes as I hate cold and wet feet. I really like Goretex shoes because of that and they are rarely cheap at least if you also want a good sole which I need due to heel pain if I don't. For my children I tend to try to find good second hand winter clothes or find new on sale. Since Swedish preschools and schools demand that children should be able to be outside more or less every day you have to have good clothes for them both for rain, snow and cold. This does cost money but you don't need to buy the very priciest ones. A colleague of mine buys 300-400 dollar winter clothes for her daughter and while they do look nice they are not drastically better than the 50-70 dollar ones I buy (usually on sale so more 30-40 dollar). We also tend to try to swap things at work or among friends when it comes to outdoor clothes and shoes but sometimes you do have to buy new.

TheWifeHalf

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 496
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2018, 02:14:23 PM »

Biking isn't realistic. If there was only a few inches it wouldn't be bad, but there is a foot plus of snow. Not to mention the snow is plowed to the side of roads on larger streets and residential streets become one lane.

Snowmobile?  Years ago I had a job that my boss came in on his snowmobile

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13599
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2018, 02:19:06 PM »

Biking isn't realistic. If there was only a few inches it wouldn't be bad, but there is a foot plus of snow. Not to mention the snow is plowed to the side of roads on larger streets and residential streets become one lane.

Snowmobile?  Years ago I had a job that my boss came in on his snowmobile

Snowmobiles are for weenies.


Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2018, 02:53:20 PM »
20 degrees is pretty warm.  We usually keep it around 17 (62 F) and it's fine in the winter if you put a sweater on.

I work at home and have trouble with body temperature regulation in cold weather (probable autoimmune disease, still working on diagnosis). 68F/20C is about as low as I can go during the day with long pants, thick socks, a long-sleeved shirt plus sweatshirt or sweater, and sometimes a scarf.

We keep the house at 67 during the day in the winter, and honestly - I'm cold. Really cold. I wear a wool hat around the house. I hate winter.

gaja

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1194
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2018, 04:17:19 PM »

Biking isn't realistic. If there was only a few inches it wouldn't be bad, but there is a foot plus of snow. Not to mention the snow is plowed to the side of roads on larger streets and residential streets become one lane.

Snowmobile?  Years ago I had a job that my boss came in on his snowmobile

If I use my own vehicle for work related travels, I get reimbursed a set amount per kilometer. For cars, it is about $.40. But we also have defined tariffs if you choose other types of vehicles:
Bicycle: $.10
Motorcycle: $.20
Snow mobile, motorboat, atv: $.75
Horse, reindeer, tractor, hangglider: $.15
Canoe, sailboat, kayak: $.24

brycedoula

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 102
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2018, 07:41:54 PM »
I also live on the Canadian Prairies. Explain to me why our weather makes taking public transit not an option?

Buses are always heated in the winter. Anyone with a smartphone or internet connection at work/home can figure out when the next bus is coming.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1369
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2018, 06:15:02 AM »
The OP wasn't very clear on this. Might they live in a more rural area with spotty or largely unavailable public transportation?

I live within 10 miles of a big city and only have to walk a few blocks to a bus stop if needed, but the further away one gets from the city center, the more limited the options become. I also remember that when I was commuting to the next county west a few years ago, my only public transportation options that would cross the county line were Amtrak and Greyhound buses. My in-laws live about 2 hours north of us, and I don't think they have any public transportation options in their town. My aunt and uncle who live 4 hours north definitely don't have available public transportation.

FindingFI

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 122
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2018, 07:09:59 AM »
Question for the biking in the snow folks: Aren't you worried about getting hit by a car that can't see you in the dark over the snow banks? I don't even like running on the roads in the winter for the same reason. We don't have any sidewalks or streetlights.  Is this fear an overreaction?

elliha

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 401
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2018, 07:38:17 AM »
Question for the biking in the snow folks: Aren't you worried about getting hit by a car that can't see you in the dark over the snow banks? I don't even like running on the roads in the winter for the same reason. We don't have any sidewalks or streetlights.  Is this fear an overreaction?

I live so close to the Arctic Circle that it is dark at around 2 in the afternoon. If I worried about not being seen in the dark I would hardly ever be able to be outside. It is easily managed by making sure you have good bicycle lights and wear reflective clothing yourself. When you are in a situation where you can guess that you will be hard to see you will have to slow down so that you have a chance to stop if necessary or so the car/s can stop. Reflective clothing is a good thing if you are walking too.

RichMoose

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 964
  • Location: Alberta
  • RiskManagement
    • The Rich Moose | A Better Canadian Finance Blog
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2018, 09:30:56 AM »
Question for the biking in the snow folks: Aren't you worried about getting hit by a car that can't see you in the dark over the snow banks? I don't even like running on the roads in the winter for the same reason. We don't have any sidewalks or streetlights.  Is this fear an overreaction?
You definitely need to dress properly (warm, brighter colours & reflective) and have a flashing LED light on your bike.

I'll admit I do ride much more cautiously in the winter. This is partly due to traction issues and partly because vehicle traffic is not expecting to see a cyclist when it's -30C outside. While I assert my rights of way in the summer, I tend to yield to vehicles in the winter just in case.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13599
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Tips for more Northern Climates?
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2018, 10:16:07 AM »
Question for the biking in the snow folks: Aren't you worried about getting hit by a car that can't see you in the dark over the snow banks? I don't even like running on the roads in the winter for the same reason. We don't have any sidewalks or streetlights.  Is this fear an overreaction?

Nah.  It's hard to see stuff in the dark.  As a consequence, you want to increase your conspicuousness:

I run one and sometimes two very bright front lights on my handlebars, one very bright tail light on the seatpost, and have four bright blinkie lights attached to the back of my backpack.  The backpack is fluorescent orange, and has several reflective strips sewn onto it.  I have a fluorescent green cycling jacket for the winter with reflective patches on the arms (it's big enough to fit several warm sweaters underneath).  My winter helmet has reflective tape attached to the rear.  I have added reflective tape to the frame of my bike, my cranks,  and to my fenders.

As far as overall safety . . . I've been cycling all year round for quite a while now.  The dangers are different, not necessarily worse.  I've wiped out a few times on black ice in the winter, or had to carry my bike over snow drifts.  My closest calls with vehicles (and my accidents) have all been during the summer though.  When the wind is blowing and the snow is blasting down most vehicles are driving very cautiously.  In the summer people seem to run lights more often, pass closer, speed more, and are generally more aggressive.