Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Heating season

Homes here don’t have their own heating systems, but they get their heat from centralized plants. Interestingly, when the plants start running, they seem to provide heat more or less continuously until the day they shut off for the warm season.

As I’ve mentioned, Minsk warmed up rather suddenly in March. Soon after things got really warm, Alla read a newspaper article about this year’s plans to save energy. They intended to shut off the heating plants as soon as we had five days in a row where the average daily temperature was over some number. As far as we could tell, we were in danger of hitting that statistic at any moment, and I was worried that we’d suffer when cold weather blew in later.

Cautious, I left the tape and caulking on most of our windows until mid-April. Also cautious, the city fathers kept the central heating systems running on low until mid-April. So we’d typically have one window open in each room, balancing out the warm radiators. With our sunny weather we didn’t really need the heat at all, except possibly late at night.

Then, about the minute I un-caulked the windows, the city shut down the heating plants; and cold weather blew in about a day later. We're not freezing or anything, but I'm suddenly wearing a lot more clothing at home in the evenings. I guess once the heat pipes under the streets cool off it's economically inefficient to try to provide intermittent heat. I don't really know, but I'm glad we have plenty of blankets.

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