10 March 2010

Bargain Heating Bills in St Petersburg!

You can be a heating expert in your hometown!  Can you answer these questions?

1.  What  is the latitude of your hometown? 

2.  For 1 and 21 December 2009, and 10 March 2010... compare day length and  sun altitude at solar noon where you live to the numbers below.  

.  What were the total degree days for this December through February in your town?   

Thinking can make it so...

The last February days hovered around 0 and +2 Centigrade.  Russians refer to December 1 as the start of winter and March 1 the date spring begins.  We have had subzero temperatures since late November, and winter ice and snow can last until around mid April... but the people insist winter is over!

Russian jargon...

Now people are talking about kasha... каща(Literally... porridge) slush...resulting from the increased altitude of the sun and warmer temperatures.  No matter the amount of wind and cold air, the steady increase of the sun's angle indicates that again it will win over the Russian winter.

Religious fatalism or country wisdom ?

A cantankerous councilman in Flemington New Jersey, when asked if the ice on Main Street would be cleared, said... "The Lord put it there, and He will take it away".  People hope snow pushed on top of the frozen Neva and canals will melt without major flooding.

Just the facts, Ma'm... (Dragnet)

Facts I am confident quoting are latitude, sun's altitude, and  heating degree days.  These measures provide an understanding of winter at 59.55 N latitude.

Admired internet friends...


A small company in The Woodlands, Texas, specializes in zip code information and mailings.  http://www.zipinfo.com.  Enter your zip, then click latitude, and voila... there it is!   Their company credo is The Golden Rule.


Steffen Thorsen near Stravanger Norway is webmaster for timeanddate.com.  It's here I found the sun data quoted below.

Degree Days.Net

Martin Bromley is the webmaster for www.degreedays.net., Biz zee Software, in Britain.  He has programmed an unusually accurate heating degree day measurement system using data supplied by Underground Weather.  It is applicable just about any place, and also, historically, throughout the world.

It's light longer and the sun is higher!

  • December   1 sunrise   933, set 1602,   6 hours 29 minutes  3 seconds day,   8.3º   sun
  • December 21 sunrise 1000, set 1553,   5 hours 53 minutes 44 seconds day,   6.8º  sun

  • ..... March 10 sunrise   731, set 1848, 11hours 16 minutes  50 seconds day, 26.0º sun 
The daily position of the earth's axis is available on Timeanddate.com  The angle of the sun to the earth as it ranges from the equator indicates the warmth we receive  Our weather also has many other variables... such as cold and warm fronts, sea temperatures, wind.

e can also measure the result of the changing angle of the sun and varying weather... applying www.degreedays.net

We talked a few posts ago about our surprising winter in St Petersburg.  Now that we have the statistics for February, we can look at the three coldest months and compare them to my old home in Lebanon NJ. 

Let me make this perfectly clear!

A base number, often 15.5, represents the degree target where there is no need to add additional heat as your own body generates heat of 3.5 degrees to bring the room to a felt 19 degree comfort, 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

If it is -10 C outside, then 25.5 degrees of manufactured heat are necessary to bring an apartment to a basic comfortable level. 

Just figure the difference between the average temperature for each day and +15.5 Celcius, add the days together, and you have the month's total degree days.

My coldest memories are in New Jersey...

In winter 1977 spanning the early months of 1978, we had extremely cold weather, sub zero Fahrenheit, around -20 Celsius, every day in January.  It's this persistent cold that wears people down, ruins cars, and makes heating bills so high.
Heating Degree Days Winter months 2009-2010

St Petersburg Russia... 59.55 degrees north latitude
Dec 667... Jan 912... Feb 704... = 2283 degree days

Lebanon NJ USA... latitude 40.64 N
Dec 454... Jan 515... Feb 446... = 1415 degree days
... 62 % of the heat needed to keep us warm in St Petersburg.

A key difference between life in the USA and in Russia...

In America most people live in suburban, exurban, and rural houses, each with its own furnace.
Van Doren Oil in Lebanon NJ scheduled deliveries with heating degree day calculations.  A bad winter meant high heating bills.  Not so back in Russia.

In Russian cities district heating prevails.  Huge boilers supply hot water and heat for distant buildings.  This can be a system with a light carbon footprint, but here in St Petersburg the system seems to have been made with inferior pipes and workmanship, and some European systems leak up to 50% of production.

Tell me your apartment square area, I'll tell you your annual heating bill... 

We pay for heat based on the square meters of our apartment , not on how much energy we consume

Plug it in, crank it out!

Our apartment is 52.2 sq meters so we pay 52.2 x 14.62 assessment = p 763.16 x 8 months payable, October through May, = p 6105.28...  $203.51 yearly total for heating costs.

We know at the beginning of the season how much our bill will be and don't have the financial dread of approaching winter cold, as many Americans do.  If too much heat is arriving from below and above, we just open the window.  There is no economic incentive to conserve heating energy unless you are at the dacha.  We have no thermostat, far less a thermostat in every room.

Most do lackadaisical weather stripping, just to reduce drafts and stay warm. Last fall we had some of our windows sanded to fit better, and weather stripping applied.  It was cheaper than replacing them, they work easier, but the cold comes in more! 

But, never mind, we replaced our relatively old 1986 radiators in September with new Italian  ones.  They offset the increased cold and keep us cozy warm!   We put smaller much more efficient units with easy turning valves in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom, costing p15000 + p6000 1/2 day labor= p21000 = $700.

These efficient radiators provide loads of heat.  They were a wise, energy efficient,
if not economical, repair.  Though efficient, we have no pay back or write off.

The winds, dark, and cold have subsided...

Now at times the air is warmer and I'm able to walk outside. The sun is higher and stronger.  Quickly we will stop thinking about the winter cold, turning thoughts to another summer in magical Zaloza.

Share your answers in a Comment... and let us know what you think!

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