I have a love-hate relationships with air conditioning.  These last hot, drought-filled days would have felt impossible without the coolness of the artificial air as well as being literally dangerous to the very young and very old.  But what I long for, what can make the days more bearable, is the coolness at night that allows me to open windows in the morning.  Neighbors stay encapsulated in their homes at a constant temperature day after day, but one of the joys of my uncontrollable early waking is to quietly fling open every window in a home with a considerable expanse of them; to feel the cool morning air rush in or, on days-that-will-be-hot, to wait for it to creep, meander, lounge, saunter, ooze, mosey, ramble or drift in.

I’ve learned through over-heated experience that to keep the house as cool as possible, I need to close the windows when the inside air loses that cool freshness and begins to heat up and to close the windows on the sunny sides first.  But the lure of the fresh air, even in its heating-up stage is almost irresistible and I often end with a house warmer than necessary because I’ve enjoyed the period of time during which the heat insidiously rose too much to do what was needed to fend of the too-warm end result.

We have blinds on our windows but in my mind, the breeze is fluttering summer-weight curtains as it answers my invitation to enter the house.  I revel in the feeling of being outside while still inside, hearing the birds, squirrels and other nature noises clearly (and sometimes my neighbors or loud vehicles too clearly).  While I’m working at things I can’t do outside, at least I have the feeling of being there.  Once the windows are closed, that feeling disappears, although the coolness is welcome.

Maybe I don’t understand the logistics properly, but it always seems to me that buildings could be kept warmer/less cold in summer.  Why should people working in offices have to dress as if it’s spring or fall because it’s frigid in their workplace, while anyone who comes in to do business (but not in business attire) freezes?  I can’t believe that the temperature contrast is healthy.  In the summer, I leave a sweat jacket in the van to wear when I go into stores or offices.  One of my neighbors, long moved away, invited me in once and her house felt like the frozen food section of a grocery store!  She must have noticed me turning into a giant goosebump because she mentioned that it was so much warmer upstairs where the bedrooms were.  Other than installing ceiling fans, which we did, maybe a solution would be to turn the air conditioning cooler at night when you’ll be upstairs.  Hospitality took a backseat to survival as I didn’t linger to talk with her any longer than necessary.  And I can’t imagine that anyone takes time in a store longer than the bare minimum (“bare” being appropriate here) to lazily shop when it’s frigid, any more than they would go outside in the Arctic winter for a stroll while dressed in shorts and a tank top.

My ideal summer day then is one where it’s warm during the day which, for me, is about mid-80’s at the maximum (26-29 C) and then cools down to about 68 or so at night (20 C), allowing me the joy of having the windows open at night, unless rain’s forecast, and the pleasure of opening the first floor windows in the morning or sitting outside with a cup of tea or breakfast and hopefully, not having to close the windows the entire day.   As I enjoy my AC and the escape from the relentless sun and dryness, I dream of those mornings and days.

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live with windows wide open to the world? Unfortunately, here in the land of highs flirting with 100 and lows in the mid 80’s, that’s out of the question. So we keep the air on – no point in even turning it back after dark, when the heat slaps you in the face if you step outside at dawn. (I’m a few miles from Philadelphia PA.)

    And then there’s the other side – for years, every spring I took a wool jacket to work and wore it every day until fall in self-defense against the 65 degree air blasting down the back of my neck. Ack.

    • In Europe, virtually no one and no buildings except for some museums and newer malls have air AC. One fall we spent some very toasty time in Provence! Thank goodness for shutters, but it was HOT.