27 May 2016

How Not to Turn On the Air Conditioner

In the past ten days in my neighborhood, we've gone from a night-time low of 44 degrees, when I got my winter coat back out to walk the dog for the last time at night, to yesterdays high of 89. I work at home in the summers, and I'm sitting very comfortably at my desk with no air conditioning.

Comfortably, I said. How is this possible?

It takes a little bit more time and organization than flipping a switch so a beast in the wall can roar into operation. But not much. And it's a lot quieter.

It's also only feasible as long as nights remain cool: it's been going down into the 60's every night, and will continue to do so for most of the summer. There's always that one week in August when it doesn't go below 80 at night, and that's a different story. But for now...

Keeping my apartment comfortable during the day starts with making sure to let it cool down at night.  As soon as temperatures drop in the evening, I open all the windows to let the cool air in. The next step is to keep the place as cool as possible during the day, I cover windows when the sun is shining directly on them to keep the sun from warming the air inside. The light-blocking shade in the bedroom is most effective, but even the sheer curtain in the kitchen makes a difference.

As soon as temperatures warm up, I switch to iced coffee. I also drink cool water throughout the day to make sure I stay hydrated. Running a fan on a low setting to keep the air moving also helps. I also dress for the weather. In the winter, I keep warm with wool socks, long underwear, turtlenecks and sweaters. In the summer, those give way to tank tops and sandals.

I limit cooking during the day. I made coffee this morning, but sometimes I'll do that that the night before and then refrigerate it to drink iced. For lunch, I had a sandwich and a salad. Bonus: eating cold food cools my body. I save the bigger cooking for the evening when the air is already starting to cool again.

And last but not least, when I go outdoors, I walk on the shady side of the street when possible.