The heating

My first flat was brilliant. Two rooms in the middle of the historic centre of Prague. The house had been built around 1860 and the ceiling height was 3.60m. I was proud of my first student flat, where the rent was almost nothing. The fact that the flat had neither bathroom, warm water, central heating nor a toilette, did not disturb me at the age of 20. The toilette was on the corridor and several flats had to share the toilette. In the close-by student residence, where my colleagues were living, I could take a shower. In the summer the flat was a paradise and there was hardly any evening, when I did not have visitors or a party. The winters however were hard. The little coal burning stove was troublesome to use. One had to carry the coals from the second basement floor to the fourth floor without elevator. The coal burning stove also extinguished pretty fast, so when I had to leave the flat for several hours, I returned to the cold. And going to the toilet during the night resembled a medieval torture.

I experimented. If I was heating, I had a room temperature of 17 degrees Celsius; if I did not heat, I had 13 degrees, thanks to my neighbours. After a short consideration I decided not to heat. Back then I was wearing countless warm socks, thick pullovers and caps at home. I drank hot tea or mulled wine and was studying in bed. Parties and visitors were cancelled during the winter. Warmth is simply a basic need of every human being. For me the balance was fine. I lived almost four years at very little cost in that wonderful flat.

Today I live in a great house in the middle of Zurich. The house is four years old and I bought it ready made. And history is repeating itself. As soon as the temperature outside drops below minus 8 degrees, the heating stops working properly and I have 17 degrees in the house. This problem repeats itself almost every winter (not last year, as the winter was too warm). The thermometer drops and I am freezing. Countless specialists were there. They checked the system and only shook their heads. Made a suggestions what to do – and I agreed. After all, I don’t know anything about geothermal probes and geothermal energy. The result was that only at the end of the winter the adjustments could be made, I received an invoice and in theory everything should be fine – until the next winter with minus 10 degrees.

Today mulled wine is not an option for solving the problem and inwardly I sent the person, who had built the system, packing countless times. The solution is still far away and I help myself with burning logs in my more decorative fireplace, radiant heaters (however I grind with the teeth when thinking of the energetic inefficiency) and lots of backing and cooking.

Summary of the story – there is no solution which can be applied twice just like that and the continuation of the story follows for sure!!

2 thoughts on “The heating

  1. Great story! Even after those years, technology development and all those improvements nature still wins. Lets hope next winters won’t be that bad as well 🙂


  2. Hi Mikino, I have really enjoyed reading this story, still remember few parties in your student’s place in Prague…. No idea if this was winter or summer, toooooooo long time ago…. 🙂
    Missed you at the Gymnazium Pripotocni Reunion after 30 years… OMG… No, 30 years, sounds awful… See you soon, now I know not coming to Zurich in the middle of winter.


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