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Cool It

It’s an age-old question, one that has plagued us for generations of summers. It has caused protracted and polarizing arguments; it has strained relationships and divided societies (that might be a stretch).


In households everywhere (or at least some places), it’s the third-most asked question during the summer behind, “How was your day?” and “What’s for dinner?”


It is this: “Should we turn on the air conditioning or open the windows?”

The answer isn’t as easy as we’d like to believe, and often, it can be a bone of contention between those sharing living spaces or riding in cars together.


Some, like me, prefer fresh air and breezes, so when possible, I like to have open windows. Also, while my internal thermostat is set relatively high making me prone to sweating more than the average human, I’m not a huge fan of “conditioned” air.


Also, if I’m going to frequently be switching between indoors and outdoors throughout a summer day, I prefer to avoid huge swings in temperature, so I’d rather gut it out, give the AC and let Mother Nature do her thing.


As for the car, it’s tricky because there are few things better than driving on a beautiful day with the windows down and the wind on our faces. Problem is, if you like to listen to music (as I do), open windows hamper one’s listening pleasure.


That said whether in the house or in the car, I tend to go by “feel” when it comes to this subject. Like much of my life, I rely on my gut, my mood and what’s “at stake” at any given moment. If I’m headed to a wedding or an important business meeting, I’m probably not going to risk sweating through my clothes on the drive to the event. At home, if we’re having people over, I want to make sure they’re comfortable during their visit, so when in doubt, we’ll probably kick on the AC.


On the other hand, if it’s “just another day” and I don’t have be around other people, I’ll likely open up the windows and patio door and take my chances with Ma Nature, figuring my body will acclimatize at some point; my internal AC kicking in to regulate my own “ecosystem.”


Some days the decision is clear, right? It’s 95 and humid … definitely AC. Or we’ve hit a rare July cold snap (or maybe it’s cooled off after a summer rain), so let’s open up the house and air things out.


But it’s those days and overnights (and there are more than a few where we live), when we’re in “personal climate” limbo, and every move we make feels like we’re sitting at the blackjack table, waiting to see what the dealer turns up next.


Will we hit it big or bust?


I can’t tell you how often we’ve decided to open the windows at night, only to wake up at 2:00 a.m. sweating like we just ran a 5K. Or the times we’ve decided to run the air conditioner, only to find, after hours of being inside, that the outside temperature has dropped 15 degrees, and we’d be much more comfortable (and energy efficient) with the windows open.


These days, with everything being “smart” and “connected” (and certainly smarter and more connected than I am), it’s common for folks to remotely start their cars, activate and check their home security systems and doorbell cameras, and preset timers for house lights and thermostats.


But all that intelligence still doesn’t override personal preference and the inevitable dog/cat, coffee/tea, morning person/night owl, paper/plastic/I brought my own bags “I’m always cold, you’re always hot” discussion about when, how, and how much to cool our homes and cars during the dog days of summer.


And speaking of dogs, we also have to consider our pets. They need to be comfortable too.


Now, I don’t want to make more of this topic than is called for, I simply want to let you know that if you and your loved ones have trouble coming to an agreement when it comes to personal comfort, you’re not alone. There are many of us, and we see you … likely through our Ring doorbells as you walk your dog past our house; the same dog that simply wants to sit on the deck in the shade all day panting because that’s probably the best thermostat of all.


Anyway, stay cool (in many ways) this summer. I hope your AC kicks in when you need it, and a cool breeze blows when you want it. You deserve to be comfortable.


© 2024 David R. Haznaw

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