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A heated conversation

30 September 2020

By Samantha Pogson

Growing up in rural Australia, the debate of ‘turning on the heater’ wasn’t really something we discussed. However since I moved to England three years ago, I’ve noticed this can lead to quite the, dare I say it heated conversation. 

According to my own personal research, if you’re from the north of England turning on the heating isn’t really needed until the village Christmas tree appears. However, if you’re from areas south of London, you have probably by now already unpacked the ugg boots and flannel sheets.

Whether it be September or December, when the time comes to turn on the central heating, we are also taking on a number of other responsibilities. Not only do our energy bills rise but we also become less environmentally efficient.

As flexible working will continue into the new year, we are now using our homes a whole lot more. The combination of more lighting, more washing up and more heating will certainly come at a price and one that we don’t necessarily want to pay for. Cue our conscious decisions: should I turn the heating or maybe make a cup of tea instead? As for the environmental issues, that is a political debate I’m not equipped to comment on.

It’s important to note that it’s not all total doom and gloom when the dark and cold weather sets in. Yes, for some the end of summer can be a daunting and depressing feeling as we notice the sun setting sooner, but the colder months do also have their own pleasures. As a notorious homebody, the idea that you can blame the climate for having a night in, is a definite silver lining for me. Summer in England is one of the most sociable and stunning places to be; from days at the polo to endless afternoon drinks by the Thames and weekends away at the coast, I’ve had so many fond memories of the long summer days. However, these months are exhausting, tiresome and by the end of September, I look forward to having the excuse of staying in.

As someone who enjoys the transitional seasons, I controversially don’t mind the cooler months – much to the disagreement with most of my fellow Aussies. Layering up for a Sunday afternoon walk before bunkering down in a pub or at home is also part of England’s charm. The dark afternoons though are something I will never get used to.

My personal recommendation for turning the heating on would be to wait as long as possible. By this, I do not mean reach the point of hypothermia in your own home but to embrace the winter woolies and fresh air before the real freeze, possibly snow kicks in. Living in a Victorian South West London flat with double glazing does allow me to have a relaxed attitude as the insulation is top notch, but before the horrible weather of December and January settles in, I like to savor the last moments of bearable natural air. Much to the dismay of my housemates, I even still have my bedroom windows open. 

As for adjusting the mentality to Winter, this can prove more difficult. Sitting in the Gen Y category, a large portion of my downtime consists of mindlessly scrolling through social media. By now, I’m sure most people have watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix and the messaging of that documentary certainly ring true. Between the various Instagram shots of my friends going to the beach in Sydney or the casual #takemeback post from an Italian Summer holiday, social media has a way of leading us down a narrow path to unhappiness that is not conducive to a healthy mind during our dark days in London. Swap the scrolling time for cooking with friends and family or reading a book instead. 

We are, without doubt, in for a long winter and as everyone has their own preference for body temperature – do what makes you happy. Turn on the heating, drink a daily hot chocolate or stay an extra 10 minutes in your warm bed. If this year has taught us anything, we really should be enjoying the simple pleasures in life.