Saturday, October 20, 2007

FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS

That’s the situation regarding keeping warm at the moment. I am sitting here shivering, telling myself, “I must become more Sicilian”, for the response of most Sicilians to feeling cold at home is to put on an extra jumper or, heaven forbid, a woolly vest, rather than to turn the heating on.

Newer readers may be surprised to know that the whole of Italy has restrictions regarding how and when you can use your central heating: the country is divided into 6 climatic zones and here in Modica we are in zone C. This means that we can switch on from 15th November till 31st March for 10 hours [though this was reduced to 9 following the Ukrainian gas crisis]. Some parts of the Catania province are in zone B and cannot legally switch on until 1st December! It is illegal to heat your home to more than 20 C [again, because of the Ukrainian situation, this was reduced to 19 though I’m not sure if the ruling still stands]. 20 C is certainly not sufficient to keep me warm though I have not felt that I needed to have the heating on for longer than the 10 hours. But the idea of having it on even that long horrifies some friends and they think it is being “soft”. Indeed, some pride themselves on not using the heating all winter! Well, some people just feel the cold more than others and I have Raynaud’s. This affects my fingers mostly so putting extra layers of clothing on my body, apart from making me feel inelegant, does not help.

No one checks up on your heating use in private dwellings but in some apartment blocks the radiators are centrally controlled so they will always only come on during the permitted period and to the permitted temperature. Legally they cannot be turned on before 5 am and have to be turned off before 11 pm. Often they will come on only for a couple of hours in the morning and again for a few hours in the evening. The heating in my apartment is autonomous but I do not want a shocker of a gas bill such as I received for the winter period last year – the equivalent of nearly £800!! The water is heated by gas too and there is the hob, but I use my hob much less than I use my oven.

I do have a nice coal-effect electric fire with surround which I brought from Britain and I had the plugs on it changed when I came. “Why not light that?” I hear you ask: because the good old Italian State has you all ways! Each home has only 3 kw of electricity [unless you purchase more] so you have to watch how many electrical appliances you have on at a time: for instance, I can’t have the oven and the washing machine on together. Anyway, that fire is in the lounge and I spend most of my time here in the study. I might, though , get a space heater to put in here: that should be OK with the computer on too, as long as the oven, washing machine or kettle aren’t switched on, as it does seem profligate to heat the entire apartment when I am just in one little room!

The State’s reasons for all these restrictions, by the way? – It is to conserve energy. I’m not sure I believe that one!

15 comments:

Sen. Peter Higham Paul said...

...the country is divided into 6 climatic zones and here in Modica we are in zone C...

And here was I thinking that Russia was bureaucratic!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I don't think any nation can beat the Italians when it comes to bureaucracy, James!

Beaman said...

Hello Welshcakes, regarding your question.

Postage costs are standard to all European nations (outside UK). For a couple of Cds and a book it would be €3.59 (£2.50).
Amazon are cheaper in their postage costs but we are quicker.

Sorry for the delay in answering.

Newmania said...

Oh , I popped in hoping to hear about your lovely food or the dappled sunlight on the azure sea. This sounds a bit familiar

jmb said...

What a dilemma. Well not really since it is all controlled so carefully for you that choice is almost non esistent. I remember being in Biella and huddled around the fireplace after May 1st because it was no longer legal to put on the heat. Stone houses are so cold.
My last year's heating bill was $2800 (about 1400 pounds, how come I don't have a pound sign on this keyboard?)but I have a big house. It will only be worse this year. However energy costs are much greater there.
Good post WCLC. Gloves?

Gale said...

Oh I do feel for you, I only adore the cold, if Im warm and on the inside looking out.

We've just come out of winter and one of my favourite times of day is by the fire, the the smell of warm soup in the air..

It must drive you nuts with the electricity...here in Aus they just keep putting up the cost of electricity so you really do start to think of what your using it for.. well at least I think thats why..lol..

You'll have to put on two pairs of sox and a big chunky jumper...

Winchester whisperer said...

Can't you get a solar heating panel WC?

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

You are going to become more Sicilian? :)

My flatmate has started asking questions about the heating and when it can go on. I may have to cave in soon.

Can they lock you up for excessive use of heating?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Beaman. I'll bear that in mind. Sorry to disappoint, Mr N. Yes, I have posted on this before, though not in detail and I did mention it when I guest-posted for Ellee. But as you see, the situation continues to surprise people outside Italy. Hi, jmb. Yes, April and the beginning of May can be quite cold, with APril sometimes being colder than February here! Your heating bill sounds very expensive, too. Difficult to type in gloves! Hi, Gale. I'm like that with the cold, too - If I am warm and snug inside, I can cope with it! Yep, the electricity situstion drives me nuts, though not as much as when I forst came. I don't think so, WW - I don't own the flat. Hi, Crushed. No, I don't think they can lock you up!

Liz said...

What about fingerless gloves? But thta wouldn't solve the cold fingers problem, would it?

Winchester whisperer said...

I think you should ask your landlord if he could get a panel for your flat. Does he own the whole block? In that case you could get a petition together?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Liz. I tried those one cold winter in Britain and felt like Fagin! They helped a bit but not the tips of my fingers.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WW. Yes, he does. I can't see him getting us a solar panel, somehow!

Sharon said...

I never knew about all those rules. I find the dampness more miserable than the cold. Time to get those hot water bottles out.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Sharon. Mad, isn't it? Hot water bottle time indeed!

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