Belgium in Brief: Getting used to the chill

Belgium in Brief: Getting used to the chill

November might have been one of the warmest on record but the cold now is undeniable, announcing itself with every frozen breath suspended in mid-air and a chill that is creeping into homes around Belgium as people dial down thermostats and look for alternative sources of warmth, like thicker socks and leggings.

As a result, average domestic gas use is calculated to have fallen 15% in relation to comparatively cool periods in previous years. Whilst our frugal intentions sadly won't be rewarded by bills that come anywhere close to the more reasonable sums we used to pay, the effect is certainly remarkable in homes themselves.

Just at the point when we might wish to crank up le chauffage, prudence is training us to hold back the urge to really get toasty and recalibrate our sense of what is a reasonable temperature inside. How low do you go? My own self-experiments have found that below 17°C is not unbearable with my regular medication from the kettle.

Still, Belgium's national gas providers have warned that a prolonged period of sub-0°C across Europe could critically deplete regional reserves and would possibly even lead to rationing. Although gas reserves in Europe were largely filled a few weeks ago, their capacity is not enough to secure supplies.

Belgium, though a hub for liquid natural gas that it exports to neighbouring countries, depends on the UK for much of its domestic supply. Increased demand in importing countries could quickly deprive us of this valuable source. Prime Minister De Croo was quick to assuage any such fears and highlighted Belgium's role in ensuring that other nations won't experience blackouts this winter.

But caution remains key and with the cold set to continue, now is absolutely the season for thermals. Bon weekend.

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