In Praise of Not-So-Old Technology

In some countries, the windows are double-glazed. In some countries, the windows are triple-glazed. In New Zealand we are a hardy bunch, and unless you live in a fairly new house (or a house with fairly new windows) there’s a good chance you have single-glazed windows.

Yep. A single layer of glass between you and the chill of the winter beyond. Admittedly, our winters aren’t as cold as some places, but when flights head to Scott Base in Antarctica, New Zealand is where they leave from.

Scott Base Antarctica Sign
I’ve spent the last 15 years in two of the cities closest to Antarctica. Brrr.
So it’s cold, and often it’s damp, too. The two issues came together most memorably for me when I was a student in Christchurch: I got up one winter morning to find that the condensation had frozen to the window. On the inside. (Did I mention we don’t go in for central heating in this country? Like I said, we’re hardy.)

Temperatures below freezing indoors is not a common problem – but dampness most certainly is. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard that people in some countries have humidifiers to make the air in their houses damper. I would have thought that the water exhaled with every human breath (not to mention the inevitable steam from putting the kettle on) would be enough to keep any house sufficiently damp.

Dehumdifiers are the popular choice here. But even if you can’t afford one of those, there is a simple tool hailing from this very country that can make a definite difference to the dampness of your house: the scoopy.

Window Cleaner
Extreme squeegeeing: a dangerous sport.
Basically it’s a squeegee (I love that word) attached to a gutter which drains into a hollow handle. Run it up the window, and the squeegee scrapes the condensation off. It runs down the gutter and into the detachable handle, from where you can pour it down the drain or into a passing pot-plant.

It de-waters your windows, it cleans them, and it waters your plants – plus you can use it to squeegee the water off the shower walls, year-round. No complicated moving parts, no batteries required, and no planned obsolescence. Brilliant.

One of the classic memories of my childhood – or at least of those parts of it spent in New Zealand – is my father swooping around the house in his housecoat, first thing in the morning, scoopying all the condensation off the windows.

Now that I am grown, I scoopy my own windows, although generally the only rooms which have enough condensation to need scoopying are the bedrooms – one which has people sleeping in it, and one which frequently has drying laundry and/or cat in it overnight. (You would be surprised how much condensation one cat can produce.)

Where did the view go? It was right here!

It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s almost meditative to use, and it’s my idea of a praiseworthy piece of modern technology.

Do you have any similarly simple and useful pieces of modern technology to recommend? Do you know why humidifiers exist? I’d love to hear from you!

2 Replies to “In Praise of Not-So-Old Technology”

  1. I would love to see a hydrophobic glass that can be seen through clearly, which could be used as bathroom mirrors and shower walls, car windows, house windows, glasses (spectacles), even drinking glasses (for easy cleaning).
    This would mean that a squeegee would not be necessary, tho it wouldn’t solve the dampness problem at all.

    1. That would be handy (no more vindscreen vipers!), although as you say, the dampness would be ongoing. Perhaps glass that transmits water from inside to out via capillary action? You’d want it installed the right way round, mind you, and even then your house would appear to be weeping :-S

What do you think?