Israel. It’s a strange place. Every year around this time it starts to rain heavily. Every year around this time the women put on boots, everyone is wearing sweaters (although tourists from Canada and New Jersey are happy to be wearing shorts!) and eating cholent; but the truth is, it gets really cold in Israel –- from Tel Aviv all the way to Jerusalem because the homes are not well insulated.
You could say Israelis are dealing with other things and not the art of 3-paned thermally insulated glass windows. I just watched a Netflix show last night about a Scottish couple that wanted to build a dream eco-home on the island of Skye and when they did it had to be air-tight like a spaceship. Oh how I wish my plexiglass handmade windows in Jaffa could be made of such insulation.
One of the biggest reasons for perpetual cold bones in Israel in the winter and the reason why so many of us take hot showers (to get warm) is that the flooring here does not work so well in the winter. Also because of the dust on the floor, the favorite cleaning method is to take a hot bucket of water and pour it over your floor and then with a broom-length squeegee commandeer pools of water out your balcony. So tile for some reason, really cheap and ugly tile, I must add, has become the standard flooring option in Israel. And it’s cold.
In my home we have old poured cement tile which today looks rich and complex but back in the day it was a poor man’s solution because it was hard to bring ceramic fired tiled from Europe or even Tunisia to this area of the Levant. So a compromise was made with colored cement.
We have a mixture of those tiles, real wood (pine) flooring and more recently with the addition of a kid’s room 8 years ago, engineered wood flooring. Until not so long ago I was in a hate relationship with “artificial wood” which is really wood, wondering why my husband would go for that option. It turns out that engineered wood flooring does have ecological advantages (to my surprise), especially for its thermal insulation properties which are higher than wood –– meaning if you are running your aircon in the summer or the heater in the winter (most heat here is electric and very expensive!) –– you can save a considerable sum by using engineered wood.
The kid’s room does feel warmer in the winter and it does seem to have acoustic insulation from the room below as well.
When I lived in Jerusalem (yes there is even snow sometimes!) I had the floor of my dreams. While the tile was not my favorite color or design (I am dreaming about this lost art from floors in North Africa), the owner of the rental property had the foresight to lay in some electric elements when she retiled her floor and renovated her house.
It cost a pretty penny to use and I was loathe to turn it on but when I did I had the cosiest ground floor apartment in that big cold and damp stone building. The heat radiating up from the floor warmed my toes and spirit over the two years when I was working from home.
Warm your home and warm your heart in Israel? Start from the ground up.