My experiences with il riscaldamento (heating) in Florence helped me to learn some new habits that are coming in handy during the Kansas winter. I'm able to keep the thermostat turned down by wearing a sweater and a scarf...it's as simple as that.
While living in Tokyo, my son was used to living without central heating. He used a kotatsu to keep warm. A kotatsu is a low table with a heater attached underneath the table top. A blanket is placed between the two panels on the top of the table, and then you sit under the blanket to stay nice and cozy. He lived without heating while I was in Italy, and has influenced me to keep the thermostat turned below 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At night, we turn it down to 58 degrees, and perhaps we'll go down to 55 soon. No sense in wasting resources when we are already warm in our beds.
Last night the electricity was off for several hours in our neighborhood. Instead of freaking out, we merely switched gears. I lit some candles, and Jesse got out the head lamp he uses when camping. He continued cooking and washing dishes in the kitchen, while I read by flashlight, then took a bath by candlelight. We were both content to live without our electronic gadgets for awhile.
With the thermostat already at 65, it only dropped down 2 degrees in that two hour time frame. If we were used to having the house up to 68 or even 70, we might have suffered the loss of heat. But since we've both acclimated to a cooler house, we were both comfortable, and I'm content to continue living this way. We will consume less of the earth's natural resources and have lower heating bills. Now I'm quite thankful for the lessons I learned about surviving with less while living in Florence!