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Heating central to coping with winter weather
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Forsyth County News

I used to always say that you might be able to do without central heating in the South, but you could never do without air conditioning.

This frigid winter has made me rethink that a bit. I feel as if I can’t get warm. I find myself taking a space heater from room to room for an extra burst of heat.

Our heating bill is outrageous, even though I really do try to keep it at a fairly low temperature. At night we pretty much don’t even run the heat because Paul is one of those, how do I say, hot sleepers. The man radiates heat. So if I ever do get cold, I can just move closer to him.

It’s a little like sleeping next to a heating blanket. Of course, I’m usually not cold at night because of the 10 blankets I have piled up over me.

Thinking about the heat and how for so many centuries we didn’t have central heating, made me think about what life was like for those without it.

For so many centuries, central heating meant you had a fire pit or fire place in the house. If you were wealthy enough, you may have had a fire place in every room, but the average person didn’t.

The ancient Romans were a smart group of people. Even as early as 100 A.D., the Romans had indoor plumbing down to a system. In addition, they developed a home heating setup that used heated air (from furnaces) under floors and in walls to heat the rooms of a house.

Here in the U.S., we used fireplaces to heat homes until the late 19th century. At that time, coal became the preferred heating fuel.

People had broilers, which used coal to heat water and steam to heat rooms, in their basements. It was not until the mid-20th century that electric fans were added to help better circulate the heat.

While I don’t have anything to do with the upkeep of our furnace, I do know we should all change the filters regularly.

One heating and air gentleman I know told me it is actually better to use inexpensive filters and change them once a month instead of the super expensive kind.

He launched into a diatribe explaining why this is better, but my eyes glazed over and it was only my upbringing that allowed me to get through the long and technical explanation.

I do know I am so tired of this brutal cold. The other day, I was driving our son to school and heard on the radio it felt like negative 3 degrees outside. I heard that as our son got out of the car wearing his windbreaker.

I shook my head and said a thankful prayer that I don’t have to argue with our children anymore about wearing their “puffy” coats to school. Many a tear was shed back in the day over the forced wearing of “puffy” coats when it was below a certain temperature.

For readers with young children: Don’t worry. The day will come when you say, “If you are not smart enough to put on a heavy coat in this weather, then so be it.”

You don’t enjoy saying this, or seeing an otherwise capable person do something that isn’t bright, but you’re smart enough to realize you can’t force someone who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and growing to don a “puffy” coat — even in frigid weather.

So how do we get through the next few months? Short of running away to the Caribbean, my suggestion is to get out a gardening book, or go check some out at the library.

Plan a garden, and make a list of outdoor spring projects to tackle. For good measure, go buy some herbs and plant them indoors in pots.

Lastly, turn that space heater to “high” and watch some beach movies or listen to Jimmy Buffet and dream about the warmer months ahead.


Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at