19-IX-2010 11:32

As the temperatures generally vary between -20 to +40 (degrees Celsius, which you, for reasons unknown, call centigrade), good heating is a must.

There are two classes of citizens: those hooked up to central heating and those who have to manage.

Central heating is provided by hot water or steam, pumped through ducts from a central plants, then distributed through radiators into apartments. That's most common in the apartment buildings. It generally works fine, with occasional failures of local pumps, stuck valves on radiators (when it's easier to just open a window then to try to get it fixed) and some cases of flawed design where certain parts of the building never get enough heat, while other may get too much.

The rest, mostly in standalone houses, have to manage. Historically, the price of various fuels would go seriously out of whack, so the people would switch from coal to oil, from oil to gas, from gas to electric, from electric to wood, sunflower seed shells, pressed cob and walnut shells, or whatever burns nice. It's not uncommon to find two or three heating systems in the same house, and the cheapest one for the season is active. Or two of them are combined.

The heating bodies vary - from ordinary area heaters (electric - nobody burns kerosene), to more common gas or oil heaters (requiring a chimney), to standalone radiators, to full in-house central heating with radiators of various forms, to in-floor tubes with cables or warm water pipes. There are also ceramic furnaces, which sometimes can be real works of art, which generally take solid fuel - wood, coal - but are often fitted with electric heaters or gas burners. They are better than ordinary metal ones, because the hot air flows through them in a labyrinth, and all the fire resistant bricks inside accumulate the heat, so less of it flows out through the chimney.