A beanie to save the world

Being of long forehead, when winter approaches I reach for my beanie.

Everyone seems to know that we lose 25% of our body heat through our heads, so it is easy to conclude that the simple act of wearing a beanie may reduce your need for heating, perhaps by an equivalent amount.

The beanie, then, may be the perfect antidote to the electricity cost spiral that we have been experiencing in recent times.

But first I thought I’d check my facts. The web, specifically Wikipedia and Wiki Answers, tells me that it is incorrect that we lose more heat proportionately through our heads. This notion is based on a study of clothed people.
Because clothing keeps heat in, it is entirely natural that a relatively high proportion of heat would escape through the unclothed head.

This is not particularly helpful. When we are trying to stay warm at home during winter we obviously keep our clothes on. Without a hat, we lose a proportionately large amount of heat through our heads.

Actually, I don’t need Wiki Whatever to tell me this. I know that my beanie keeps me warm and cosy on cold nights.

I reckon that I use less energy on heating as a result.

My web reading tells me that I am in good company in thinking this way. If you complain of the cold in front of Queen Elizabeth in one of her draughty castles, she tells you to put on a jersey.

I wondered if we should not all be wearing beanies during winter and whether these could not be sponsored by Eskom as part of the demand-supply management (DSM) programme, which is designed to help us use less electricity.

Eskom’s Andrew Etzinger says that it is correct that wearing a hat can make a huge difference to keeping warm.

But he says that the difference a beanie makes could be hard to quantify, as it would have to be part of a behavioural rather than an engineering study.

But, says Etzinger, wearing a beanie could reduce the need for heating by an hour a day.

In electrical usage this would translate into a “not inconsiderable” R50 saving a month.

With winter lasting three months that’s a R150 saving in a year, enough to pay for enough beanies to hat a household at Mr Price, where prices range from R29 to R59.

This means we can think of this green technology, the beanie, as producing a return on investment in the period of just one winter.

Of course, Eskom could bring some muscle to the equation and reduce prices through bulk buying.

Etzinger sees the beanie as a way to promote energy efficiency and says he will be taking up the idea with the marketing department.

Kevin Davie

Kevin Davie

Kevin Davie is M&G's business editor. A journalist for more than 30 years, he has worked in senior positions at most major titles in the country. Davie is a Nieman Fellow (1995-1996) and cyberspace innovator, having co-founded SA's first online-only news portal, Woza, and the first online stockbroking operation. He is a lecturer at Wits Journalism. In his spare time he can be found riding a bicycle, usually somewhere remote. Read more from Kevin Davie

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