Friday, July 03, 2020

Cold times

Winter is always cold—that’s why it’s winter. But in Auckland it doesn’t get as cold as other parts of New Zealand, except for a short time, maybe. Hamilton, however, and the Waikato in general, is another matter entirely. It gets cold here in winter, and this year has proved that.

When Nigel and I lived in Paeroa, which is also in the Waikato, it got very cold—far colder than Auckland, and cold enough to put ice on my car windscreen. Ice scrapers weren’t sold there, so I had to use warm water to try and melt the ice enough for the windscreen wipers to removed it.

I’ve always hated being cold. Because of that, when Nigel would talk about us moving to Hamilton, I told him my “conditions”: The house had to have heat pumps (later on, it became ducted air conditioning—basically, central heating and cooling). It also had to have underfloor heating, good insulation, and I later added double-glazed windows.

The truth is, none of those “conditions” were anything more than things I really did want, but it was more fun to talk about them as if they were non-negotiable; obviously, they were.

So when I found my house in Hamilton, it was well-insulated, had double glazed windows, but not underfloor heating and one heat pump in the main living area. I added another heat pump in the master bedroom. I moved in during the summer, and everyone told me how Hamilton’s had relatively mild winters the past few years, so, they seemed to be suggesting, I didn’t need to worry.

It hasn’t worked out that way.

The image up top is a screenshot of a post I made on my personal Facebook on what was the coldest morning of this year’s winter (so far?). That post was sharing similarly cold temperatures the night of July 1, 2016, and those temperatures got colder overnight, all of which I blogged about at the time.

History didn’t repeat itself: On Thursday night, the temperature dropped to -1.7 (28.94F). Last night it was comparatively balmy 1.9 (35.42F). Maybe it’ll stay “warmer” tonight, too, but the batteries died in my outside monitor, and unless I change them, I’ll never know what the temperature will be.

The bigger issue isn’t about batteries in the monitor, it’s about how to keep the house comfortable. There are definitely cold (or, cooler…) spots in this house, and the two other bedrooms—the guest room and my office—have no heat or cooling. I already know that the summers are hot, and now I know the winters can be cold, too.

To deal with that, I’m going to look at having a ducted air conditioning system system installed. I don’t know for sure that I will do that, but if my goal is to get the house ready for my retirement, then getting it set to maintain a constant temperature throughout the house year round would be a pretty good objective.

Actually, I’m looking at a few other changes, too, but nothing is very far along yet. For example, today I went out and stood along the fenceline to see how my shadow fell on the house in later afternoon. I’m 6’ 3”, and my shadow barely touched the house, if at all. This matters because I want to plant tall bushes along the boundary to give me privacy from the neighbours, and the ones I'll put in can grow to 3 metres tall (though they can be kept trimmed). What all of that means is that when I plant the bushes, their shadows won’t fall on my house (and windows) until late afternoon, about the time they do now, and when I close the window coverings for the night (to help keep the warmth in).

There are so many little projects like that, and I get a little impatient to get them done. I guess you could say I need to chill out. You might say that, but of course I wouldn’t. Chilling and coldness is clearly too sensitive a thing for me to make fun of.

I left a comment on my Facebook Post right after I made the post: "I was definitely not awake at 4.49am, and I have alerts silenced until 7am, so I didn’t get the 'happy' news until I took the phone off the charger a little while ago. The 'Facebook Memory' was just rubbing my cold nose in it."

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