Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The coldest week of the year

I think around this time of year if I'm blogging actively, I tend to write about the germs going around, the days getting shorter...and of course, the wait for the heat to come on in our building (in addition to the beautiful fall foliage, of course).

Getting progressively colder outside.

The city turns the heat on-we have no control over what temperature or when, and once it's on, it will stay on at mostly full blast until April or so. At least, that's the way it seems. I did an internet search for what date it usually comes on in St. Petersburg-of course it is always a big topic of discussion here. The first week of October seemed to be the average.

I'm not sure how it works in the U.S.... I know individual families can decide when to turn the heat on,  but are there any restrictions, or could you turn it on any old day, like in the summer, for instance? I forget. I know that if you are in charge of your family home thermostat, you must keep a budget in mind. That's one question that we don't have to deal with! The heat is calculated according to the size of our apartment, and maybe by how many people are registered to live here.

Once the heat is on and the building is thoroughly heated up, we switch back to summer wardrobes. There won't be much need for heavy sweaters and thick socks around the house until February or so when we get the deep freeze. Otherwise, the warm clothes are for going out. I write about this because I remember it being the opposite sometimes in New England. Dress casually if you're going to jump in the car and drive to the store. Bundle up for a chilly day if you're sitting around inside.

So, the "coldest" months of the year for us are actually May-October, unless we have a heat wave. Warmer comforters come out and it's sweater/slipper season. On the plus side, it's a great time to do a lot of baking with that summer produce.

Cookie weather! (with figs for added fiber for a certain toddler)

This week (for the past few weeks since I started writing this post), it was getting down to around 40 Fahrenheit at night and heating up to about 50 during the day. Honestly, I was freezing. It felt like such a lame excuse, but I could not get motivated while constantly feeling chilly. While I wouldn't want to live in a hot climate, there is definitely a certain tolerable temperature zone that helps me to be more functional.

I will say that the WIND has been a factor, too. If we didn't have the heat getting turned on by the city, I would maybe see about sealing the windows better. However, I need to be able to open them to air out our apartment...yes, even in below-freezing temps. Also, I'm somewhat thankful our windows are breathable (porous), that is, not air-tight...there is a certain type of insulated window that people tend to install nowadays. I'm actually glad we don't have those.

At any rate, we had to pull out various coping mechanisms during the wait for heat. Also during this time, Sophia (26 months) entered a "naked phase," and I had to start putting her in a onesie and snapping it over her pants to keep her from freezing. Socks always come right off, of course. And she's often able to slip the pants off through the onesie leg holes.

Blanket fort! Found a cool way to make a roof: 2 IKEA tunnels stuck together,
across 2 laundry drying racks.

Homemade aromatherapy diffuser! Works well but a pan on the stovetop works too.

2 weeks later: Our heat has come on gradually. The radiators turned on one by one, and then were off again for a few days. We also had our hot water temperature reduced for a few days (see the notice below to this effect). There was at least one accident with a hot water pipe bursting, and there were actual casualties. :/ So a delay is definitely better if it keeps us safe.

Hot water and heat will be reduced during certain hours
(it came back later than expected, but not too late).

It feels like the building is still gradually warming up, but I definitely don't have to wear as many layers around the house anymore! And it's definitely hot at night now. I've switched to getting sinus headaches several times a week, maybe adjusting to the dry air. Ibuprofen early on and a wet cloth over my face helps to sleep it off.

I thought it would be interesting to read about this aspect of life here even if I ended up complaining a little. I definitely complained during New England winters too when we had to wear sweaters and thick socks around the house. But, I thought it was funny to note that the end of September is the "coldest" week here when we have to pull out all the extra quilts and thick socks...only to put them away again a few weeks later. :)


  1. It is VERY interesting! Though, I guess in addition to country variations, there are variations based on other things. In our home, I admit, there have been days when we had both the heater and cooler on. I cannot sleep when I'm too warm - I mean hardly at ALL - so I am willing to pay for cooling at night. C. on the other hand, wants to be warm in the morning....so there we are. Today is very warm - after last week being cold. That time of year! I can imagine they are not quite sure when to turn it all on. When I lived in NYC one winter, the whole apartment building had the heat turned down very low at night. At about 10 p.m. you'd hear it go off and it would stay off until 6 or so. I always felt for the fellow above us who had some sort of job that didn't get him home until it was already cold. I absolutely agree with you that temperature had a huge influence on my ability to function properly. Too hot and I feel ill, but if I am chilly no matter what I WANT to do, I just sort of shut down.

    1. I used to love being warm at night and then I remember when I suddenly switched to loving a cold room at night, with lots of warm blankets. Even in the summer. Definitely getting pickier as I get older. Bedding is another story. David has only ever slept under a sheet (in his underwear, no pajamas) at the most except for a few of the September nights this year when he accepted another layer. Sophia always takes her socks off at a certain point. In general I'm hot at night and Andrei is cold. It would be great if they turned the heat down at night! But yes, everyone is on different schedules. Unfortunately in an apartment you can't just turn on the woodstove for additional heat! People do use portable heaters sometimes, but I'm always wary of fire hazards.


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