For the past few days we’ve been assaulted by heavy winds blowing sand and people everywhere, I even found some (sand, not people) inside our “sealed” postal box this morning!
The wind literally blowing around my bedroom Saturday night made the eeriest sounds as it found it’s way through cracks that shouldn’t exist, and kept me jumping out of my sleep as it danced chairs and tables around on our mirpesets (having “War of the Worlds” be the choice for our motzei Shabbat family movie time didn’t help matters).
This morning the rains began and had me complaining about feeling chilled.
Staying warm is a challenge we renters in Israel face this time of year and there is no good solution for those who will only be satisfied if American style climate control can be emulated. The little space heaters don’t provide comfort beyond a few feet. The big space heaters waste electricity and still don’t resolve the comfort/draft problems.
Sealing the windows with plastic (like we used to do in the Northeast US), leads to mold & mildew growth caused by condensation. I know because this is our 3rd winter in Israel and I’ve made these mistakes. The first apartment we rented even had CENTRAL heat and A/C. When I complained to the landlady about the mold problem she scolded me for not keeping the windows open a crack. Being married to an extremely frugal efficiency engineer, I replied that letting in the chill would defeat the purpose of running the heating system. Silly me, attempting to apply American common sense to Israeli reality.
Since I haven’t been able to read Facebook or aliyah-related e-mail for days without running into complaints about the cold in Israel, I thought this would be a good time to share a few suggestions for remaining comfortable based on what has worked for us:
- Wear (and dress children in) multiple layers of clothing – I know this is a common sense issue that I shouldn’t even have to mention, but just this morning I noticed a few bare midriffs as I braved the biting rain and wind on my way to the mailbox and market in my ankle length skirt with leggings and heavy socks, cotton turtleneck, heavy sweater, head scarf, and hooded raincoat (with gloves in my pocket – just in case).
- Issue a small portable electric radiator to each family member to keep near them – this should help keep down the complaints, especially from the teens who you have now made responsible for their own comfort. I’m referring to the less expensive 6 fins or less models. Let’s face it, Israel does not have long winters and therefore there is little point in buying an expensive one with a 3-year warranty during a 3-year period you’ll only use it about 5% of the time someone in a European country would. Buy the type that can easily be moved around the apartment as needed. Tell your family to turn it off every 30 to 60 minutes for 15-30 minutes at a time (the heat will continue to radiate from it for a while) to keep the electric bill down.
- For people who need to work at a computer for many hours, clip a reading lamp to your monitor and point it at your keyboard/mouse area – it’s amazing how well one 75 watt bulb can warm an area.
- Keep the treisim (outside blinds) and curtains closed on windy days.
- Remember that this is a great opportunity to exercise off any extra fat gained during Chanukah!
- Hot Chocolate – if you can’t find the instant mix 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder (found in just about any grocery store) with 1 or 2 teaspoons of sweetener as desired, stir in 3/4 of a mug of hot water or hot milk and top with whipped cream or marshmallows. (This is known as comfort food, so don’t go overboard.)
- Eat hot hearty soups and stews with warmed bread to remove the inside chill.
- Sleep with multiple blankets, comforters, layers of clothing, etc. (I even wore a stocking hat to bed last night – it was 15 C / 59 F when I entered my room at 9 pm – and it became colder during the night).
- If you’re good at visualization, try to recall the many months of extremely hot weather you complained about until recently (e.g., you’re at the beach and even the breeze feels like it’s over 100 degrees).
And most importantly, save your complaints for the politicians and thank God for the much needed rain because when it ends there is often a rainbow and the promise that represents.
15-Dec Follow-up – We have heat!
Due to operator error – and impatience – on my part, I incorrectly set the remote control for the A/C-Heating units in our bedrooms. After two nights of sleeping in multiple layers of clothing and outerwear, I decided to push some buttons and give it another try… nothing happened – again! I left the power on and went to another room to fold and put away laundry and when I came back ten minutes later the hot air was blowing full force in my room! Within 20 minutes the bedroom was transformed from 15C/59F to 24C/75F degrees! My 10-year-old complained that his room was getting too hot so we agreed to turn it off until the room became uncomfortable. About 3 hours later I got up and turned it on again for another 15 minutes and both rooms were good for the rest of the night.
Today I took out the manual (ya know, the kind I write for a living?) and read the instructions 🙂 There I discovered that I can set timers to turn on and off, and also select automatic mode and it will turn on when the room drops to a specified temperature, and off when it reaches its target. Wow, the wonders of “modern” technology! I think next time there’s a remote control involved I’ll ask my 10-year-old to deal with it.