Money Well Spent

This is our fifth winter in Finland. We finally bought a space heater. It’s not something that we’ve needed before, but this year it’s been money well spent. Allow me to explain.

We don’t have an individual thermostat in our apartment. The heating for the building is set for 21° Celsius, which is around 70° Fahrenheit. There are a few days in late autumn, before the heat’s been turned on for the season, when it gets chilly. Likewise, we experience a few brisk days in the spring after the heat’s been shut off. It’s not really a big deal. Dress appropriately or snuggle under a blanket.

What’s different this year is one of our neighbors. He lives on the top floor apartment has frequent visitors. The exterior doors are locked and we don’t have any sort of buzz-in system. We also don’t have an elevator. So he runs down the stairs to let people in, then runs back up. Unless he has someone with him. Then he stomps. I know this because the hallway is also the stairwell, and he passes my front door every time.

We Call Him Forrest, Because He Literally Runs Everywhere

If I were still in New Mexico I’d think he was a drug dealer. When I say frequent, I mean several visitors per hour, a few hours per day, every day. Sometimes he goes down and a few minutes later comes back up alone, as if maybe he’s doing a hand-off in the lobby. I know when he’s alone because when there are people with him he talks, loudly, in the enclosed and echoing hallway/stairwell. When people do come up, they only stay a few minutes and before they leave. He’s polite, because he walks them do to the lobby. A few minutes later, someone else will show up, repeat the noisy procession on the stairs.

He’s probably doing research and interviewing people or something. Doing it here rather than on campus, for some reason. At any rate, the takeaway is that the outside door downstairs is getting opened a lot more frequently than in past winters. Even though our apartment has the standard two- door setup that most Finnish apartments do (one opens in, the other opens out), they’re not well insulated. When the outside doors open we get a cold draft. Repeat this over and over, and our apartment starts to get chilly. It warms up eventually, but I’m getting old and it’s kind of annoying.

Money Well Spent

My bright idea was to get a small electric space heater that we could park in front of the door. We picked one up at a hardware store for under 20€, which was an amazing price. Electricity is included in our rent, so I’m not worried about that. I also don’t run the thing any more than is necessary, so I’m not abusing the utilities either. When I get up in the morning I turn it on low. That’s enough to offset the draft of people leaving for work and school. Around 9 I turn it off. When I hear Forrest start to run, I turn it on. After he’s settled down for a while, I switch it off. In the afternoon, when people are coming home, I turn it on again for a while.

It’s really not a big thing, but that’s kind of what makes it so powerful. Small things have large impacts. Not being cold can have a huge impact on your quality of life. It keeps my chronic pain to a dull roar. That increases my productivity and my overall mood. Definitely money well spent.

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