Did you know that some countries don’t have Central Heat like we do in the United States? When I was in Rome, Italy for a semester in school, we had radiators that were turned on the same time every year regardless of the outside temperature, and turned off with the same considerations. I hear the Japanese only heat the rooms they use – while they use them, and turn all heaters off at night! I also hear they have heated toilet seat, but thats another topic. I suppose we could’ve turned off our radiators in rooms we weren’t using, but we were Americans, and it never crossed our minds. I know there are houses still in the U.S. that don’t have central heat, but their occupants wish they did. The question is what are these other countries doing that allows them to not have central heat. American’s on average spend 31% of their energy budget on heating.
Crazy, right? Sure, in Texas, you could probably switch the heating and cooling percentages, but the question is still why.
Do these other countries simply insulate their buildings better? I’ve heard that often this isn’t the case. I know a man in Japan who says his home is concrete exterior walls with wallpaper glued directly to it, and his windows are single pane. The walls of the buildings in Rome seemed to be of a clay masonry construction. The hollow spaces in these tubular blocks may have contributed to insulation, but I have no proof. All this leads me to believe they simply adapt, and are more in tune with the changes in weather. I wonder if they never get dressed in the morning, only to walk outside and run right back in because the weather wasn’t compatible with their outfit of choice. I’ve done this. The disconnect between the interior environment of my home, and the true exterior environment can be quite striking. Sitting in my house, I can’t tell if its cold, hot, humid, dry, or anything past windy or raining. If it can’t be seen with the eye, I can’t feel it. My HVAC system insures that. The strange thing is that we like this disconnect. Maybe we simply like being in control of our environment. American’s spend a lot of money upgrading things in their homes to keep the outside out, and the heating/cooling systems working less. Two years ago, Husband and I installed new windows with special e-coatings, thermal breaks, and gassed up with argon. We also paid someone to crawl into our attic, spray the underside of the roof with a fancy metal infused epoxy, and snow the rafters with a foot of white insulation. Our cooling bill has decreased substantially, but I don’t know that it has helped with heat. You can feel cold, windy drafts coming under my doors and base boards. If you open the closet doors, you get a swift reminder that its winter outside, even if it’s a balmy 75 inside. I don’t know if they left the insulation out of these spaces, or if it’s just because there are no air vents pumping in warm air – does make a great wine cellar in the winter, though. My point is, that maybe we should try to don more sweaters, put on pants, or tights. Pull out that snuggie we all received for Christmas – or maybe just a blanket instead. Maybe we should be more in tune with out environment, and I don’t mean the created one inside. We like to control too much. Control can be stressful. Just let it go, get back to our roots. Adapt to our surroundings. We may find we are more relaxed and happier that way.
Then again, we may also find ourselves with frostbite or a heat stroke, after all, HVAC was invented for a reason.