Being cosy warm indoors while the weather hurls all the winter it can lay its hands on at you is a wonderful feeling, but it doesn’t come without a downside. The air is so dry it brings problems of its own.
Feeling The Heat In The Big Freeze
Canadian homes have a system of ducts running behind walls and beneath floors to facilitate air-conditioning and heating. We have an exterior A/C unit that cools us in the summer and a huge industrial-looking furnace in the basement to keep us from freezing in winter.
Our home in the UK has central heating powered by a boiler attached to the wall in the utility room. It’s compact and practically soundless. Heat is distributed equally to radiators in all the rooms and drying laundry on them in the winter kept a comfortable level of humidity.
The big disadvantage of the Canadian system is that the heat is strongest closest to the source. By the time it’s been pushed through the vents to the bedrooms there’s not much of it left. Meanwhile the basement is like a sauna and certain foodstuffs can no longer be stored down there (I’ve had to relocate my chocolate stash). It’s a desperately inadequate way to heat a house – in the current freeze we’ve had to top-up the bedrooms with expensive-to-run electric heaters and don’t even think of going to bed without a hot-water bottle.
I mentioned in my previous post how, as fresh-off-the-plane-expats, we initially turned the heating off at night during the winter. Now we know better, but even with it on all night very little of that precious heat makes it’s way up to us.
All Dried Out
Then there’s the dryness. I’ve never known anything like it before. The air is so dry that wooden furniture and floorboards split:
Side-effects Of Intense Dry Heat
Every morning we wake up to what feels like sandpaper throats and cement-filled noses. All the kids have regular nosebleeds, and everyone’s scratching like crazy – it doesn’t matter how much you drink or moisturize, your skin still feels (and looks) like paper. I can’t remember where I read it but washing with conditioner instead of shampoo is really helping my thick, curly hair feel a little less brittle. I don’t blow-dry but even if I did there’s no need to – hair dries within minutes of taking the towel wrap off your head.
I left two slices of bread out while Suraya made her mind up about lunch and within twenty minutes they’d crisped all over. It feels very ‘first-world’ to gripe about the disadvantages of heat in weather that causes major headaches for those living on the streets but this is simply the reality of life in extreme climates and another example of how different living in another country can be on a day-to-day, fundamental level.