Posted by: 1of10boyz | January 7, 2015

Old Habits Die Hard

I love working at a nuclear power plant. I find it fascinating to arrive in my office building and find that the morning janitorial staff has gone through the entire building and opened all of the windows. Yes, it is -5C outside and we have just spent the entire night heating the building but we open the windows first thing in the morning.

The reason, to let the “bad air out”.

I have been here long enough now to understand the logic. For centuries, nay millennia, the Chinese have slept on “Kang”, a rather ingenious method to keep your bed warm on those cold northern Chinese nights. But as you might know using the exhaust of a fire to heat other areas and to prolong its presence in your home has inherit risks. One that would concern all of us today is the likelihood of filling your home with Carbon Monoxide (CO). So when your grandmother tells you, your mother tells you , and your mother-in-law tells you that you have to open the windows every morning to let the bad air out, it comes from experience. They have likely seen or heard of someone that died in their home because they had a leak in the kang that filled the house with CO.

In a society that places great importance on listening to the elders it is nearly impossible to change that habit. Never mind that my electric heater and my radiant steam register don’t provide heat by combustion. Disregard that it really is impossible for them to produce “bad air”. We have always done it this way.

While the majority of the civilized nations of the world no longer use the gases of combustion to heat their rooms, there are likely 100s of millions of people that still do. Those hundreds of millions still do need to open the windows and get new air into their home in hopes of minimizing their chances of dying from CO poisoning.

Good Morning, I need to close the windows now. I know the “bad air” that is inside this building is still better than the polluted air that is so prevalent in China right now.

Sunrise from my now "closed" window.

Sunrise from my now “closed” window.


  1. Tadpole: Logically, I know you are correct, but old country habits die hard. Still sleep with widows at least cracked in sub-zero weather, and flung open for a few minutes in the AM. Letting bad air out. I have not lived in Scotland for decades, but still adhere to the practice.

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