Saturday, March 10, 2012

Summertime....

The sun fails to shine! And even when it does, it has teeth, caresses my need of warmth with a cold smile... I'm here, but not here, it seems to say...

It was a long  winter in Cyprus, long and terrifyingly cold, and not only so because of the weather. The effects of the weather can be felt only outside, and we don't live outside. I, personally felt cold and uncomfortable the whole winter. I thought it was just me, but when I asked around, everybody felt the same and nobody had cure for the chronic chill. Why was that?

Hmm... got me thinking! People live in worse conditions, and I don't hear them complain; I come from Romania, a country with both proper Winter and Summer, and I didn't feel like that before! What was so special here that made me shake everyday, keep me so cold I couldn't even use the computer at times (that's how cold I would feel sometimes). Air condition unit, clothes, hot tea, winter shoes, nothing could cure the bone deep feeling of cold I had, apart from the occasional sunshine invading my bedroom. The air condition would make it better , but has to work continuously, and that would make the air inside so dry, my sinuses would explode of pain. The minute it stops, the temperature will race towards zero at an alarming pace and it would stop at around 7-8 ºC, exactly how much it is outside, making me go through 15ºC difference in half an hour.

The secret of this performance lies in the poor design of housing. Cheaper to build - better profits for the constructor! The outside walls of many buildings are 20 cm wide, and have no thermal insulation, making it from the start an energetically inefficient environment (which combined with the latest rise in the electricity prices, gives us a huge burden). On top of that, the wooden boxes housing the blinds are poorly constructed, giving gaps, and making a direct way of air communication with the outside. Sliding, single pane windows, that just rest in their track make it an even bigger problem. It's not one building like this, but a lot, even in the newest ones. they are made with no consideration for energetic efficiency, it doesn't matter if we talk about winter or summer. And electricity doesn't come cheap in Cyprus, especially now, with the biggest supplier blown up!

It would be simple, if done properly from the very beginning! Insulation is not hard to apply, windows (if designers and contractors think of it beforehand) can be thought of well, blinds can be removed or designed to be housed on an external box, doors properly sealed, floor made of wood instead of tiles, and that alone should bring down the electric bill by 30%, and remove the need of continuous use of the air conditioning unit, in both winter and summer. But it takes money to do so, not much, but it takes some...

I reckon, with an increase of less than 5% of the build cost (lets remember that in Cyprus, from the main contractor to the guy that actually does the work is a long list of subcontractors and "maestro's", that add each a certain percentage only for having their name added to the list of those milking the big cow, literally screwing up 2 types of people that should be very important to them: buyers (who's bill is becoming indecently big - guess, why?, and the actual worker (who gets paid 5 euro/hour, and most of the time he has no idea if the employer  paid the contribution to the social insurance, or if he is getting paid on Friday evening, when he finshes at 7, after 12 hours of work, 5 days a week, and often with overtime forgotten by the "maestro"). But this is another topic I will take in a future article.


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