Hot homes, cold homes

After having lived in the south, south-east and north-east of Brazil, I couldn´t help noticing a curious fact about Brazilians. Their homes are never adapted to the climate they live in.

In the south, houses are cold. They are built with “cold floors” (ceramic tiles) that literally “sweat” in the cold months (your feet get wet if you walk in your socks), windows have no insulation and there is no sign of a fireplace, radiators, central heating or any other form of heating anywhere, even in luxury homes. I would often hear stories of people getting burned in their homes after trying to improvise a stove using a can and kerosene. Some outsiders actually put in a fireplace, but can rarely use it because they have a hard time finding timber that no one sells or uses (!?).

In the south-east, summer months are just as hot as in the north, but no one has heard of white walls to reflect sunlight, omitting the heat soaking ceramic tiles on the roofs, or closing the windows after the morning breeze turns into sauna steam to keep the house cool. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you show them that shade is cooler than light, they always run to open the windows and curtains (if they have any) and let that hot air back in.

I learnt about keeping houses cool in Spain, Italy and Greece, where you walk into a house in the blazing 40-degree heat to find a pleasant, dark, cool room in which to sleep your siesta. None of that in Brazil.

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They also hate trees, especially in upstate towns (also called, the interior). People cement their gardens and sometimes even add more ceramic tiles to make it “look nice”. If you don´t slip and crack your head (even on the pavement), you´ll surely miss the nice cool feeling of green grass and swaying, leafy branches.

The best way to prevent all this discomfort is to build your own house, or adapt an old house to your climatic needs. Old houses are best because they are built with mud blocks as opposed to (yes) ceramic ones, which are cheaper, easier to find and….hot. Older houses are also cheaper because Brazilians hate anything old, which they curiously related to poverty.

Funny people, the Brazilians.

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