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Italy - Heating and Air-Conditioning
Unfortunately, Italy can be a bit primitive when it comes to indoor heating and cooling of properties, especially as compared to The UK and US. Because of high electricity costs, central heating and air-conditioning in this country are rare, even more so in the older buildings and houses.
The newly constructed and luxury properties in Italy have modernized heating options like electric heating, which can be turned on or off at the touch of a button. They are quite user friendly and take just a few minutes to warm the area. Such systems could centrally heat the whole house at the same time or may have separate plug in heaters for every room. Thermostats are also often connected to these heating systems so that the occupants can control the temperature for each room. This system is appropriate for houses of any size. However, only a few can afford the installation and monthly bills. Many expats opt for houses with central heating when their companies pay the bills.
Some of the people in Italy use their air-conditioners to warm their homes too. Many expats install a window unit in their house and use it throughout the year by setting the desired temperature. However, this is one of the most expensive forms of heating. Moreover, air-cons are only effective in keeping smaller rooms and apartments warm.
In terms of pricing and efficiency, a majority of the Italians prefer opting for alternate forms of heating like gas and wood.
Gas heaters, also known as space heaters, are devices that warm up the area by burning petroleum, natural gas, butane or propane. Indoor gas heaters can be of two types: flued or vented heaters (permanently installed) and non-flued or unvented heaters (installed or portable). Most Italian homes have a portable gas heater that can be moved from one room to another on wheels. This form of heating is instant and is suitable for a larger area too. However, it is important to ensure that the heater is working correctly at all times. A faulty device could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, not to mention improper heating.
Traditional wood-burning stoves can be seen in a few Italian homes. These devices generate heat by burning wood and therefore do not require electricity. However, they emit a high amount of air pollutants and can take a while to warm the place up. In the last few years, many homes have replaced the old-fashioned wood-burning stoves with pellet stoves.
Pellet stoves are gaining a lot of popularity in Italy because they are more cost effective and environment friendly, as compared to fireplaces and heaters. This appliance burns compressed wood or biomass pellets to generate heat that warms the surrounding area. These stoves are the cleanest solid fuel burning devices available as they emit a lower level of unwanted emissions. They are easy to install and can also be incorporated into central heating systems. Pellets burn longer than wooden logs; moreover, maintaining a stock of pellets at home is more convenient in comparison. While pellet stoves take a while to warm the place up, they can be set to a desired temperature to that they provide consistent heating for a longer period of time.
Some of the older Italian homes still have only a traditional fireplace to keep the room warm. However, they are not very effective in heating a room during winters. Expats who restore Italian homes often install newer heating technologies and either get rid of the fireplace or keep it just for show.
Though the temperature in many parts of Italy can drop considerably in the winters, the locals don’t heat their houses as much as the Americans and Britons. In fact, it is quite common for them to keep warm just by donning a few extra layers of clothing.
Many of the properties in this country don’t even have an air-conditioner as the houses have been built to keep the sunlight and heat out. Italians have a general tendency to avoid using the AC even if they have one unless it is extremely hot outside. Italy also has an air-conditioning law to discourage foreigners staying in hotels from switching on the AC in the off-peak months.
During summers, people avoid the worst of the heat by keeping their windows shut from mid morning till early evening. They open the shutters during the latter part of the afternoon, to let in some breeze. Italians also beat the heat by dressing in cool, light clothing.
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