It usually starts in early April.
The gloomy, gray days of Winter finally give way to the bright, blue skies of the new season. You start to question whether it would be good to wear a sweater for work. Temperatures are moderate, but there is a good spread between the morning and evening.
It’s a lovely Monday morning. You feel the warmth of the sun, but understand that it’s not going to be scorching hot. A collared shirt is selected, made from a slightly thicker yarn. It wears a little heavy and you decide that a sweater is not needed. The winter is over and it feels great. Time to go to the office.
You walk outside and find that the temperature difference between the outside and inside is not that much different. It feels great to breathe the crisp, clean air. The sun’s rays open your pores and you feel the warmth. Your shirt keeps you cool as you take it all in. You feel alive.
When you get to the office, you have goose gumps walking through the door. You feel a chill on your skin, a dramatic difference from how you felt all morning. You feel fear.
The fear is so great that it breathes through your shirt and closes your pores. It’s not the fear of having a lot of work to do for the week. It’s the fear from being subjected to air conditioning all day long. You realize you needed that sweater afterall.
Our office is divided.
Half of us like to have the AC on most of the time. The other half can live without it.
I’m one of those who can go without. I have shades to control the amount of heat and light coming through my windows. I can open the windows a crack if I want. And my body is able to appreciate the average range of weather the Earth has to offer.
For those who get hot easily, the first thing they do when they come in the office is blast on the AC. It’s one thing to turn the AC on. It’s another to do so without asking. I wouldn’t mind if the AC is turned on. Just ask those who share the space with you if it would be a bother.
On this particularly day, we were exeriencing 70-degree weather. Here I was with cold air dumping onto my head. It’s insane.
What if it was 90 degrees outside? How could the AC help them then if 70 was already too much? Would I have the pleasure of seeing these people naked in the office to compensate for the beach weather?
While it’s easy for me to complain about how the AC comes on, it’s not easy dealing with everyone’s comfort levels.
Comfort is a peculiar thing.
I can be quite comfortable in the office on a nice Spring day, while others may feel like it’s summer at the same time.
Yet, I am uncomforable when the AC is on durng moderate, mild conditions. There is stress on the body to keep warm in the chilly office. My spine trembles, trying to shake off the chill. An uneasy feeling comes from the stomach as I try to adjust to the comfort levels of others.
By definition, comfort is a sense of physical and psychological ease. It is relief from distress. Everyone pursues the condition. And the idea of being comfortable is appealing. But sometimes, comfort creates a false sense of security.
Comfort brings us to a place where we want to stay.
It is an end, a destination. When we are there, we don’t want to go anywhere else. This is where complacency takes control. We remain there out of pure contentment and become lazy. This is where things start to fall apart when we let it.
The AC is one example of how an external mechanism brings about comfort. We turn on the AC and get the desired result almost immediately. We sit back, relax and hit the repeat button, continuing to do the same work over and over again. There’s no challenge, no growth or motivation to think or do anything else.
We think everything is alright. We don’t see a need to change anything. We don’t need to learn anything new or find ways to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. And somehow we think that our comfort makes everyone else comfortable.
Recent polls suggest that most Americans believe global warming is happening. Yet, we’re comfortable with that. We say it’s not one of our top concerns. Actually we’re so comfortable that we can rely on our government to act for us.
As humans, we have two legs. We are built to move around and change directions. We’re not built to stay in one location. We should not accept the current status quo. And we should not be satisfied in repeating the same things over and over again.
We think that turning on the AC is harmless enough, regardless of the weather. That’s no surprise, given we think climate change is harmless. Problem is each generation will think the same thing until it’s too late. It’s time to find acceptable ways to live together for the future.
The Summer is heating up again. Here are a few things to consider when cooling your home with little or no air conditioning at all.
The best way to cool your home is to miminize heat gain.
Quite simply, this can be done by lowering the temperature and increasing the air flow in and around your home.
If you have a long, narrow home with windows on both sides, open them up and allow cross ventiltion to occur.
If you are building a new house, you can locate it so the long side of the house can capture the prevailing winds with windows. Keep in mind to avoid the sun to catch the breeze. If possible, you can also raise the house off the ground to maximize airflow. And crown your home with a cupola to allow warm air to exit by having cooler fresh air replacing it.
Keep the south walls shaded from the sun with small overhangs. Overhangs allow homeowners to keep windows and doors open during rainstorms.
Consider vegetation and trees around your home. They can dramatically maximize the amount of shade. Shade blocks sunlight from entering the home. It also cools the air flowing into it.
The sun is strong and can subject your home to severe heat gain. It can beat down on your roof relentlessly. Your roof must be watertight, insulated and reflective. Metal roofs are good to reflect radiant heat.
Insulation helps to control air leakage that passes through your roof or siding on the walls.
Paint your home a light color to allow more reflection than absorption.
If you are building a new house, a long slender structure with smaller sides facing east and west minimizes the amount of time the exterior walls are exposed to direct sunlight.
Think about your comfort and find natural ways to achieve it.