Saturday, May 22, 2010

Little Differences

I read a few expat blogs and one blogger specifically does a segment on the little differences between her home country (US) and her new country (Luxembourg). I find this sort of thing endlessly fascinating and have been toying with the idea of doing the same sort of thing.

So in an effort to blog more often, I'm going to occasionally blog about the little differences between Canada and Australia. The thing I keep telling everyone here is that Canada and Australia are actually quite similar BUT there are a few things that pop up occasionally that take me off guard. It's like you'll be cruising along in your daily life doing things how you always do them and then *BAM* something will be completely opposite to what you're expecting. So some of these differences are going to be pretty obvious (ie: driving on the other side of the road) and not so obvious.
I'm not going to present them in any specific order. It's basically going to be as I think about them/photograph them. So without further ado, I present to you:

Little Difference #1:

Most Houses Don't Have Central Heating

(This is something I mentioned in this post so it's a bit of a repeat.)

In an effort to conserve energy it's getting more popular for people in North America not to turn their furnaces on in the autumn until absolutely necessary and then turn it off at the first possible moment come spring. Not having a warm, cosy house in the spring/autumn/winter is the reality for most people here. It seems that only new houses are built with central heating and even then it seems kind of optional. Growing up in Canada and spending the last 6.5 years in the Arctic, not having a furnace just wasn't an option. Not only would it be extremely uncomfortable, it would be downright dangerous (and expensive once your pipes freeze and burst). A lot of time, energy and money goes into keeping our houses warm in North America.
For a lot of people at home, when they're cold, they go and turn the thermostat up. Here, you make a cup of tea or put on (another) sweater.

Glen's parents have a gas radiator type thing in the living room and otherwise, they rely on a space heater (and heat lamps in the bathroom) to take the chill off. Glen's sister has a wood fireplace and in-floor heating that they rarely turn on (it's expensive and takes a long time to really heat up).
We have space heaters and possibly in-floor heating (we have a thermostat on the wall but no vents or radiators... We have no idea what it controls so we haven't bothered checking - also, in-floor heating is expensive).

Our new heater. The only thing standing between me wearing a toque, scarf and mittens in the house.

We've been using a small portable heater in the evenings that didn't really do a great job heating a room the size of our living room - we basically set it up and then sat close to it. We have a portable radiator that doesn't do a very good job either (it makes great heat but doesn't move the heat around so you only have a two foot radius of heat around the thing). After Glen spent the day home by himself (I was working) I think he realised that the two heaters we had weren't adequate and brought home this beauty from work. One of the major pluses of this thing is that it oscillates so not only is it blowing air out towards you, it's blowing air in different directions and circulating it a bit. We've noticed a HUGE difference in the evenings (I'm still drinking multiple cups of tea, wearing sweaters, slippers and watching TV under a blanket BUT I'm not so cold I hurt).
Another thing that's helped is closing the doors to the bathroom/toilet/bedrooms/hallway so we're only really heating up the living room. I'm thinking about getting a tension bar and a set of curtains to hang over the arched doorway that connects the living room to the hallway/kitchen/laundry room.

This whole heating one room at a time/preserving heat is a concept I'm familiar with but never had to put into practice. It's also a bit of an adjustment to waking up to a cold house/showering in a chilly bathroom/etc.

Temperature: +9C
Sunrise: 7:19am
Sunset: 5:14pm


toni in florida said...

Strange to think you'd be colder in Australia than in the Arctic! Keep the commentary on differences coming, as I've never lived either place and would love to have more glimpses inside the lifestyles of the two places, both of which I've always said I want to visit someday.

Megan said...

It's definitely something I wasn't prepared for when I arrived in September. It was still quite warm when I left Canada, and so when I arrived here and it was cold and rainy (and COLD inside) I was in for a bit of a shock!