Thursday, 15 May 2008

How to keep cool in the warmer weather


When I moved over to Switzerland from England I didn't really expect that life would be full of fish and chips and yorkshire pudding as I was going to a different country - so I decided when in Rome do as the Romans do. However there are certain things I have never got used to. I took the photo yesterday from the office window, and as can be seen it is a warm sunny day. I feel honoured to have such a nice view from my office window, nature pure and sun and fresh air.

We also had warm sunny days in the East End of London. Obviously the view was not the same, but the sun was there and reflecting from the concrete buildings and pavements, it could get quite hot. We had windows to let the light in, with curtains to draw in the evening. In Switzerland we have blinds on all the windows, also perhaps curtains, although my curtains are at a minimum. When I was at home my mum would open the windows to let some fresh air in and also leave the door open to let the fresh air circulate. Perhaps it is Switzerland, or perhaps modern discoveries, but I quickly had to learn that here if your open a window then definitely not when the sun is shining. This can cause the heat to collect indoors and it will get too warm. The door must be shut as if you open the window and the door is open there is a draught and draughts must be avoided at all times.

This was the beginning of my training to keep temperatures under control indoors. So the general picture is that when it is a hot summers day, the windows are kept closed and the blinds that we have are kept drawn. This keeps the inside of the house cool. I must admit there is some sense in this, but I just don't enjoy sitting indoors with the electric light on during the day. I would mention that in the kitchen at home, the room where most of our existence takes place, the windows are open as they lead into the garden. So generally in Summer I am either in the kitchen or out on the porch.

This state of affairs is carried on in the work place, especially if it is an office.

Fixing the blinds

My colleague in the office is not practicing his daily gymnastics but is helping to keep our office cool on a summer day. We have windows in the roof of the office and on a sunny day the sun shines through and disturbs the computer screen views, so I have been told. I myself have no problem. My screen is always clear and I have never noticed a reflection, probably my eyesight is accustomed to normal daylight. However, as soon as a ray of sun shines through the window in the roof the blinds have to be closed. Yes, even our windows in the roof have blinds. We even have special instruments for closing these blinds. Not an easy job as can be seen, but with practice the blinds are closed. The next step is also to shut the blinds on the widows which can be seen in the background. I would add that this operation is only performed in the afternoon as in the mornings the sun is on the Eastern side - these windows look towards West.

So there we have the perfect Swiss office in the afternoon, all windows closed so that no hot air enters and complete darkness as the blinds are down. The next step is to turn artificial lighting on. This has been one of my biggest problems living where I am now. I suppose I grew up at a time where light and sun were considered as being good for you, and a draught was not a draught but fresh air. I would add that the house I grew up in went through two world wars and there was no door in it that fitted into the frame, probably due to the vibrations from the bombing and the fact that the house was built in 1884 and had shifted a bit on its foundations.

I don't even have health problems due to growing up in a permanent draught and being singed by the sun. Am I a bit strange in these views?

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