Icicles hanging from the eaves of a house are very beautiful. But they represent something that is, in this climate, undesirable. That something has the rather quaint name of värmeläckage – heat leakage. Inadequate insulation in the roof means that heat escapes through the ceiling and melts the snow nearest the roof, which runs down under the thick overlay of snow and drips off the edge to form icicles on the eaves.
Heat loss is something to be avoided at all costs in these northern climes. The art of keeping it in has been pushed to such an extreme now that houses have been built which are able to collect heat from every available source in the house and hold it in: stove, fridge, hot water system, even ordinary electrical appliances produce heat that can be captured and held onto. Even body heat can be trapped and used. But some lovely old wooden houses show by their icicles that they are not keeping but losing heat, which is a bad thing.
The word leakage, of course, makes you think of water, and just now there is water appearing everywhere. Snow is melting. Not because of heat loss through house roofs, but because of the sun. With Spring rushing at us these last few sunny days I realised that the sun finally has some heat in it, not much, but you can just feel it. The sun is “leaking some heat!” That feeling has been absent for so long now it comes with a relief that gladdens the soul. The constant hiding from the sun that we were so used to in Australia has been replaced by the Swedish longing – longing for light, longing for heat, longing for the grey of bare branches and the white of fresh snow to be replaced by green grass and the colour of flowers. As we emerge from the long darkness our hearts scream out, “come on summer!”