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Chasing the warmth

19.09.2014 | By Leonid Uzvar

Typically the heating season in Ukraine begins in mid-October. Due to the problems with gas, this year it may not start at all or apartments will be heated to a minimum. Therefore, the question of how to survive the winter? is relevant already now, when there is still time to insulate apartments, buy proper heaters and install boilers

SOME THEORY

Ukrainian housing system is one of the least energy efficient systems in Europe. For example, in Sweden and Finland consumption of heat in apartments is 140 kW/h per square meter of area per year, in Germany 250 kW/h per square meter. And in Ukraine it is almost 400 kW/h per square meter of area per year for brick houses, 600 kW/h per square meter in panel buildings and 700 kW/h per square meter in private houses. Based on unofficial data the heat loss in ordinary ninestoried residential buildings sometimes reaches the rate of 80%. 12% of heat is lost on the way from the heating system to the apartment blocks. 35 50% of heat escape through the noninsulated windows and doors, 15 30% through window glass, 15 35% through walls, and another 10% through ceilings and floors, according to construction companies. In other words, most of your money paid for heating services is simply spent on heating the streets.

In theory modernization of buildings is the duty of the housing offices. But in practice this does not happen. Apartments have been privatized and insulation is a responsibility of their inhabitants, believe utility providers. So there is nothing else but to solve the problems of insulation of your apartment before winter on your own. Which means right now.

SOME LAW

Rented dwelling may not always suit your tastes or needs. And it is not about the wallpapers or the wrong color of tiles on the floor. The apartment may have problems with heating (efficiency of old, Soviet iron radiators is very low, which means they are bad for heating the rooms). You may also lack a boiler. In addition, the walls under the wallpapers may be cracked, and heat will leak through the cracks like sand through fingers. You might need to do something.

However, repairs in someone elses apartment should be done only upon approval of all the issues with the owner of the property. And all your wishes and plans for changes in someone elses apartment shall be discussed prior to signing the rental agreement.

In most cases owners are not against renovations, especially if the apartment is rent for long term. But to be sure to avoid any disputes all the details should be spelled out in rental agreement.

If the apartment has a boiler and additional heaters, do not be lazy to check whether they are still covered by warranty. Do not forget to specify in the contract that in case of a breakdown of household appliances due to wear or hidden defects, that are through no fault of yours, the owner is obliged to change or fix them. For example, if the boiler has broken bacause you turned it on and it burned out without water that would be your fault. If it simply stopped working because it was too old it should be changed by the owner of the apartment.

Try to anticipate all possible unpleasant situations, otherwise you will have to pay for damages to personal property of others.

It should be mentioned that the Civil Code stipulates the terms of payment for repair of the leased property. Thus, the Code provides that minor repairs or redecorating of rented housing shall be paid by tenants. But that should not stop you from talking to the owner and agreeing on sharing the cost in half, deducting the cost of repairs from the rent or completely passing it to the owner. But the overhaul shall be unequivocally paid by the owner of property.

If you decided to do repairs or buy something for the apartment make sure to save receipts by the end of the lease term.

SOME PRACTICE

Of course, today the most popular solution is the replacement of old window frames with the new ones. Special winter windows with triple glazing are the best solution to prevent the loss of heat. In case the problem of cracks and openings in windows has to be solved very quickly, one of the old ways may be of help: plug the holes with cottonwool, masking tape, adhesivebased foam insulation, silicone sealants, putty, or change their rubber. The indisputable advantage of this choice is that for insulation, in addition to comprehensive solutions (new windows), you may use temporary cheap alternatives foam, paper, glue (less than UAH 200). The disadvantage is that, as a rule, the best winter windows require impressive expenditures more than UAH 4,000 for a window.

Even if you insulate the apartment, change windows and doors, but the radiators do not heat the rooms, you will not manage to conserve the heat. In case radiators are very old and they had to be changed for a long time, you can pay attention to the new radiators with temperature control (UAH 700), so that in terms of warm weather you may turn them off, and set them to maximum during the cold season.

Electric oil heaters may be of help just before the beginning of the heating season and immediately after its end, when apartments and buildings are cold enough. The problem with these heaters is that they warm up very slowly. But the price is quite nice it starts with UAH 400.

Convector heating is one of the most uptodate. Radiators are manufactured in flat bodies and mounted on the walls. Heating element, providing rapid heating to a desired temperature, makes the basis of such convectors. They work silently and preserve natural humidity in heated rooms. Perfectly good heaters are sold for approximately UAH 1,000.

Infrared heating is also one of the most progressive methods of heating. Their heating elements are quartz lamps. Infrared quartz emitters, unlike other devices, do not heat the air, but certain surfaces or object on which their beams are directed. It is possible to warm, say, your bed, but the room will remain cold. Price UAH 800.

Regardless of the way you chose to insulate your apartment, whether by buying a heater or even replacing all windows, consider moving to another apartment, because such way could be much cheaper.

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