Thursday, May 07, 2015

Anglophenia: British (and some NZ) homes

Above is the newest video from Anglophenia, the BBC America video series explaining the UK to the USA. It features new host Kate Arnell, and looks at things about British homes (and some NZ homes) that Americans may not know.

Many of the things Kate shows are similar in traditional New Zealand homes, but two things are very different: I’ve never seen a New Zealand home that has the laundry in the kitchen. On the other hand, in New Zealand homes, the laundry is often in the garage (ours is). It would be too cold for that in the UK.

The other thing that’s very different is that we have powerpoints in the bathroom (which may or may not have a toilet in the room, apparently mostly depending on the age of the house). Modern NZ codes require an RCD circuit (known in other countries as GFI) in bathrooms, though older houses may not necessarily have them unless they’ve been remodelled. Actually, a third difference is we don’t use pull cords for lights in bathrooms.

When I first arrived in New Zealand, people most commonly referred to the room with the toilet as “the loo” or “the toilet”, but in recent years I’ve noticed an increase in the number of people calling it “the bathroom”. Probably another unfortunate influence of US pop culture.

Like the UK, NZ powerpoints have switches on them, and are usually double (older houses sometimes have single powerpoints). These days, ones with built-in USB chargers are becoming common in new homes.

Kate says that air-conditioning is uncommon in UK homes, and it was in New Zealand for years after I moved here. But starting in the early 2000s, heat pumps started soaring in popularity and they’re quite common in all sorts of homes, new and old. They tend to be single room, however, and very often the house isn’t well insulated. Newer homes are very well insulated, as the result of changing building codes, but whole-house heating/cooling systems are still relatively uncommon.

This wasn’t in the video, but in many older British homes, the lounge (living room) is separated from the rest of the house with a door that can be closed. I presume this is due to the lack of central heating in the UK. I’ve very, very rarely seen anything like that in New Zealand.

We also have hedgehogs, thanks to 19th century British immigrants. But in New Zealand, they’re considered a pest.

It’s not surprising that New Zealand homes should be similar in some respects to UK homes, particularly in the early decades of the country’s history. Nowadays, NZ (and Australian homes, for that matter) probably have more in common with US homes that ones in the UK. But there are some differences. I like that.


rogerogreen said...

You have PowerPoint in the bathroom? Who do you show it to? Oh, powerpoints! What IS that?

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

That would be outlet in Americanese.