Monday, 5 January 2009

Summer is here

After a pleasantly cool few days, it seems that the heat has set in. Today the temperature reached about 30 degrees, and for the next few days at least it is forecast to be even hotter. As we are near the harbour, it does not get quite as hot here as it does out in the west, where tomorrow it will reach 39 degrees. I read in other blogs how cold it is over in the northern hemisphere. I don't think I want to endure those extremes of climate, but do find Sydney very hot and humid. The nights are hot.

We have air conditioning, but it won't go any lower than 18 degrees. We use fans, and open windows, and while I have become used to the heat to some extent, nonetheless I look forward to the cool nights, which are so much more conducive to sleep. There is less migrating across the bed to find a cooler spot.

The Canberra climate is characterised by hot summers and cold winters. Cold for Australia, that is: the night temperatures fall to below zero  most nights. After 36 years there, acclimatising to Sydney's heat and humidity was a sad trial. I was on tamoxifen for several years, which made me feel hot and sweaty the whole time, and I used to overheat regularly. In the relative cool of Canberra it did not affect me so badly. Now, of course, when I visit Canberra in winter, I shiver madly. All my old warm clothes are brought out, and I dress in many layers.

This house faces east/west. The windows mostly face in these directions. The cool breezes come from the other directions and fortunately there are some north facing windows. Whoever designed and built the house evidently did not consider heating and cooling and energy conservation. In the morning the summer sun streams into the kitchen, and in the afternoon it streams into the lounge, and the upstairs room where I have the computer and the CD player. My bedroom is on the third level, and ALL THE HOT AIR RISES, so with each step I can feel the temperature increasing a couple of degrees. Many Sydney houses do not have curtains or blinds. When we moved in here there were hardly any window coverings, and the few blinds were very ineffective.

Over the years, and with Dr P protesting at every step along the way, I have wrought improvements in temperature control. Curtains now cover the west facing windows, and in my bedroom I had to have installed block-out fabric velcroed to the window frames to prevent a lot of the heat getting in. My latest improvement, occasioned by the need to get Dr P a new blind, was to also get blinds for the laundry and toilet near the kitchen. These have made a great difference. So I might just get another set of blinds for the kitchen. However I will let Dr P get over paying for the last round. Curtain and blind firms certainly know how to charge.

It is really surprising how little attention architects, builders and people in general pay to heating, cooling and energy use generally. Many houses are built for the view rather than for temperature control, and we waste so much energy because of this. Canberra suffered disastrous bushfires in 2003, and over 500 houses were burned down. A very large number of the new houses have been built without eaves - it means the house can be built closer to the boundary of the block, but the result is that an important means of temperature control and energy use is now lacking. 

Today's weather was tolerable, actually. I took my books back to the library, pottered around a few shops, found some nice clothes for my youngest grandson, whose first birthday is this week, and bought a very pretty dress (not pink, but blue and white) for my granddaughter. There was a gorgeous blue silk dress with lots of frills, which was very tempting, but then I thought of the care it would need in washing and ironing, and sadly left it in the shop. She would have looked lovely in it. My son will have to send me a photo of his little boy in the smart new blue and green outfit he is shortly to receive. I tried on some clothes and bought a t-shirt but everything else looked awful, because of the effects of over-indulgence. I think I will stick to the alcohol free week plan.

Then Dr P and I went to the pictures. We saw Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona. I quite enjoyed it, especially the scenery and Penelope Cruz, but it was really a very self-indulgent piece. Dr P usually likes Woody Allen films, but he was disappointed. I wonder if I can get him out to another film. 


meggie said...

Hi P, I saw you joined my followers, & so popped over to meet you!
Are you living in Sydney?
We are north, it was very hot yesterday, & like you, our house is not designed to make the most of any breezes. Nor were there any nets in the windows when we arrived, so I got some in the bedrooms. I am needing new curtains for our kitchen- read oven- & dining room. There are thermal old ones, but they are so ugly, & wearing very thin!!
I must have watched too many movies, because I could not live in a house with no blinds or blockout curtains!
I really hate the idea of being on display!

persiflage said...

hello meggie, thanks for your visit. Yes, we are in the inner west, but I do venture to the northern suburbs from time to time, for choir, a discussion group in Lindfield. Dr P plays bridge there. I have learned my way, and enjoy all the gardens and general leafiness, but would not like to cope with the traffic congestion.

herhimnbryn said...

Thought of your post today. Here in Perth it was 35 and we closed the house up when it hit 22 outside. With ceiling fan it stayed cool until 4pm and then air con needed. I have only lived here for 7 years and try as I might ( I am determined NOT to be a whinging Pom), the beginning of Summer knocks me sideways!