Collective heating: French tips for withstanding the cold when it is off


Faced with soaring electricity prices and as temperatures drop, some French people equipped with collective heating managed by a centralized boiler system find themselves shivering at the start of October. Planet reveals the testimony of a young woman and a mother who had to change their daily lives to withstand the cold in the absence of heating.

Clara, a student, talks about her complicated daily life with the drop in temperatures and the tricks she implements with her family to warm up before the heating is turned on. The young woman, who lives in an apartment in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, in the Yvelines, was forced to invest in auxiliary heating. “To fight against the cold this winter, we bought two small auxiliary heaters. We installed one in the bathroom to warm it up before showering and we have another, larger one, which we put usually in the living room”, explains the young woman. And the student is not the only one to be impacted. “My mother, who is working from home all week, has worked in the living room for a long time. Now she has moved into my bedroom because the room is smaller and easier to heat up,” she explains.

Without heating, she had to adapt her daily life and her way of working. “Typically, every morning, she activates the auxiliary heating to warm the room before working. She also puts on more sweaters otherwise she is cold during the day,” says Clara.

A system D that the family will have to extend at least until mid-October and the ignition of the collective heating. “We live in an apartment in the Parisian suburbs, and the heating is collective. Which means that for the moment, it is not activated. It is indicated that it will be set at 19° during the day and 18° at night “, worries the young woman.

Claire, student.

This is the first time that the family is so worried about the approach of winter. “We are worried because it is the first time that we are afraid of being really cold. In the morning, when we get up, the ground is cold. We live with sweaters and plaids to warm up as much as possible. We’ve been living in this apartment for 10 years and it’s really the first time I’ve been afraid of this winter. If I’m already cold on October 5th, I can’t imagine how it’s going to be in December when it’s will snow”, fears the student.

Her father, who has a lot of asthma, is also worried. “In humid environments, I have feelings of discomfort, the problem being that without heating, the house is regularly humid, especially in autumn”, details computer scientist Patrick. “So mold is forming on the walls of the bathroom or particularly humid rooms accentuate this cough.”

For laundry, it is also a real problem on a daily basis. “It does not dry and the towels are constantly damp. So it’s a vicious circle, everything is damp and therefore we are cold all the time”, explains Clara. “This morning, my mother even told me that she was planning to buy hot water bottles,” says the young woman. In the meantime, there are tricks to heat the living rooms.

“We prefer dishes to put in the oven like that, while we eat, we open the oven to warm up the kitchen”, explains the young woman. What also worries his parents is the price of gas. “For the moment, the price is blocked until 2023 (750 euros per year). But from next year, the trustee will have to renegotiate a contract. With the current gas price, the bill would be higher than 3,700 euros per year. So we’re going to put on even more sweaters lol”, confides Mireille, Clara’s mother.

Louise, 28, young mother.

Louise, 28, is a young mother faced with the problems of the cold in her 70 square meter apartment, the collective heating of which is still off. “I sleep in a sweater and pilou pilou socks. My almost 6-month-old baby has a long-sleeved bodysuit, velvet pajamas and a thick sleeping bag for the night. During the day, we put several layers on him too”, confides the mother of the family. “It is 17°C in our ground floor, we alerted the condominium but they do not want to turn on the heating before mid-October. While we reminded that there were babies, the elderly and a lot of people working from home”, protests the journalist.

For the days of teleworking, Louise and her husband have an extra heater that they place “in their office so as not to be too cold”. “I usually have a sweater and a vest over it,” adds the young mother. She finds herself recovering some heat as soon as she can. “In the evening when we heat something in the oven, I stand in front of the door when the cooking is finished to recover a little heat in the back”, explains Louise to Planet.

Not turning on the heating is, according to her, a strategic error for her condominium. “To save money, okay, but in the end our showers are longer. We make our son take a longer bath so that he can take advantage of the heat of the water. And I, automatically, take hotter showers, I need to warm up,” says Louise. She needs to find tricks to withstand the drop in temperatures.

“We live above non-insulated cellars so in the summer we have no problem with the heat wave, the weather is always good in our house. But then winter without heating is very complicated. We added carpets in the living room, our son’s bedroom, our bedroom and the study”. The search for heat is optimized to the maximum for the small family. “You can feel the hot water from the pipes under the tiles and the parquet, so when one of us has taken a shower, the other stands at the level of the pipes to warm up his feet a little”, confides to us in smiling Louise.