Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Soo Cccold! On Heating Schedule in China

November 15th and March 15th are perhaps two significant dates in Beijing. This is because the heating system is turned on on November 15 and turned off on March 15. For some residents, the dates can be a few days earlier or later. The heating system for my apartment went on exactly on November 15th and  was turned off on Mach 18th! The reason for this central date is because the heating system in the country is powered with coal, an expensive and pollution generating resource.

In some buildings such as my apartment building and my old school, the heat is barely enough. So, I have to wear a full winter gear (jacket, hat, snow boots and sometimes gloves) while teaching. The students also keep their jackets on, on top of the multiple layers they already have on. And then when I get home, I have to keep these layers on and sometimes turn my electric heater on for added comfort.

Radiators, a common heating tool in the country.

People always ask me why I complain about the cold so much since it is much colder in Canada. I always answer them with two reasons. The first being that our buildings are well insulated, so the heat stays inside, keeping you warm and toasty while indoor. And the second being that we have clear blue skies with sunshine and it sometimes snow, keeping the air moist. Winter in Beijing can feel colder that it actually is because it doesn't snow or rain much, and the skies are heavily polluted with smog, which often blocks any sunshine we could be getting. And so because of this, I am always cold, both indoor and outdoor.

Picture on the right is a typical day in the city.

Although in some apartments and buildings, the heat is turned on too high that the space feels like a sauna, so people have to open the door or window to let some heat out. Since buildings are centrally heated, many apartments don't have thermostats which allows you to control the temperature in the apartment. So while some residents have to bundle up to stay warm, others can pretend like it's summer as they lounge in their t-shirts and shorts!

So to keep warm, I will often wear up to 3layers, sleep with 2 blankets and a heating disc. Or I will drink a warm cup of tea for a temporary relief.

Now that the heat has been turned off, we all can't wait until the weather starts to warm up! But in the meantime, residents can resort to creative ways to keep warm. These includes sitting on heated pads, sleeping in electric blankets, heated mattress pads and discs, drinking hot soups and tea, wearing multiple layers even when indoor, doing jumping jacks every once in a while and for many locals, taking a shower only once or twice in a week! Yikes!

And if you have the extra cash, just turn on the "heat" function of your AC to warm up the place up!


Coilybella said...

I feel for you sis, try to stay warm as much as you can :)

Anonymous said...

eeya! sorry o, i suppose you can count it all Joy :-)

Lishylikes said...

a bath for a week to two weeks? dang do they turn off the water heat too?! :O