Sunday, January 31, 2010

British thermal units

Americans, paradoxically, still use the BTU as the standard unit for quantity of heat energy. While Britons have shifted to the therm and the Joule and the watt, all pukka System Internationale units and much more decimal and scientific and reasoned.

Around here, I think the proper definition of a British thermal unit must be when the Englishman puts a good big log on the wood stove or the wood furnace! We use about 30 of these high value BTUs a day when it's this cold.

Actually, in terms of the real, ordinary kind of BTUs, we have a 20,000 BTU wood stove, an 80,000 BTU wood furnace, a 1,500 watt electric oil-filled space heater, and to cap it all a 175,000 BTU oil furnace, all working together right now.

And it's still cold.

OK. Admittedly, it won't stay that way for long. It's already getting better fast. I just upped the thermostat on the oil furnace to make up for the fact that the wood stove took a while to get going this morning. That furnace is a very powerful beast, and won't take long to make up the difference.

Oil. A fossil fuel. Bad man.

But it was only 59 F where I sit, and Mary, a very spoiled hound-dog, who hates the cold, was wimpering at me from the couch a few feet away, asking me to turn up the heat.

I couldn't very well refuse, could I?

I think I shall require a good cooked breakfast today. Some grease for the wheel. Sausage, or bacon, maybe, instead of my usual oatmeal.

Wish I had some black pudding. That would get the old gut-furnace rumbling, wouldn't it?

Now that's what I call a British thermal unit. Pork fat and pig's blood sausage. Americans won't touch it, but they don't know what they're missing.

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