Monday 16 May 2016

Toasty Fingers and Toes

It is a sunny day outside and I think the temperature is about 14ºC. That is a pretty nice spring day if the wind isn't blowing. However, 14ºC in the house is pretty damned cool. The windows are open so that the stale air inside the house can be replaced by fresh, cool air which is abundantly plentiful outside. My body is saying that all of the warm stale air has been replaced and isn't it time to close the windows and turn on the furnace?

As I sit here with cold feet and fingers that I haven't been able to feel for an hour or so, I can't help but wonder what it must have been like before civilization managed to come up with central heating. Surely that is the single most important discovery right after fire, the wheel, bow and arrow, metallurgy, the internal combustion engine, vaccinations, indoor toilets, running water, grocery stores, etc. Let's just say that central heating is in the top 100 inventions for sure.

I have been in buildings during the winter that only had a fireplace or wood stove for warmth and although they do and did give off plenty of heat, they are labour intensive and only heat a relatively smallish area. To keep a building warm using these methods, you really need to have someone tending the fire round the clock. That may have been possible a hundred years ago, but in this day and age, servants or wives want the same luxuries as the man of the house has. Not everything has improved over time.

If I were to live in this area a hundred years ago or earlier, my toes would only be warm for perhaps three months of the year and then only during the daylight hours. Perhaps wool socks and boots made from fur bearing animals would make all the difference. However, I suspect that as well as being cool, your feet would also be wet a goodly amount of the time what with fetching water from the stream, walking through dew soaked grass and being 100 years away from the invention of Gore-tex footwear.

I suppose that people were made of sterner stuff back in the day. There was nothing they could do but live with cold fingers and hands, so they just didn't think about it. Well, most people didn't think about it. There were some people that sat in cold draughty buildings and dreamt of a time when their great-grand children would sit watching cartoons during the winter with bare feet and be very comfortable, thank you very much!  

The Romans and Greeks had central heating, by diverting rivers and heating the water with fires kept burning by servants or slaves. I suspect that only the wealthy were able to benefit and those in my station in life just had cold fingers and toes or fed the fires. In this century and the last, steam, gas and oil were used to heat our homes and I will be forever indebted to those people who invented the different methods. Well, my toasty warm toes and fingers will anyways.

Now, if someone would just come up with a way to air out the house without actually using outside air…

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