Tuesday, June 22, 2010
A Short But Miserable Winter
It is the end of the school term. It's winter, and we Australians find ourselves huddling under lap-blankets at night, sucking on hot lemon drinks and cracking open the antibiotics to treat our hacking, phlegmy coughs. Winter doesn't go on for very long (3 months at most) but when it happens, as it does every year, we seem woefully unprepared.
"This is unfair!" we wail, "How can this cold weather be happening to us?"
The thermometer stands at 8 C (46 F) overnight. It reaches 15 C (59 F) by day. Come mid-winter, it will be min 5 C to max 13 C (41-55 F).
If you are thinking, "Gosh, these Australians aren't as tough as they look," bear in mind that we do not heat our houses adequately! So, now you would be correct in thinking, "These Australians are not as smart as they look."
Unless you are very wealthy (and somewhat wasteful) you DO NOT INSTALL central heating in your home. At my place we just have the one gas heater which heats the lounge room. We have a couple of electric oil-filled radiators for the kids rooms when it is very cold. But that is pretty much it.
As for insulation? Some people have proper insulation in the ceilings. I'm not sure whether we do or not, I haven't been up there to look. In the walls, it seems to be an optional extra. We are having new room built on at the moment, and I had to specifically ask our builder to make sure the walls are insulated. Other than that, it would be just drywall, empty space, foil-paper to seal out the rain, and weatherboard. I am horrified!
I have a Canadian girlfriend, Heather, who lived in Australia a few years ago while we were at University together. Heather described our living conditions in winter as 'positively barbaric'. She slept in a full tracksuit, thick socks, and she wore a woollen cap to bed which she called a "toche". (We call it a beanie, but there you go.) Heather was so rugged up, her boyfriend (now husband) wondered if "everything was OK" between them.
The only good thing about our tendency to underheat our home is that our energy bill is low compared to what it could be. For our household of 4, it costs about $1750 in total per year, for all our electricity and natural gas consumption. I gather this is pretty light.
(I have to add that I don't use the electric oven much because it sucks power. We have a clothes dryer, but we rarely use it. Same reason.)
Do you find heating/cooling to be essential? What can you live with? What can't you live without??
Dont get me started Wifely Duties