Just open the damned windows

            As far as I am concerned, air conditioning when the temperatures are under 90 and the humidity is under actually-seeing-drops-of-water-in-the-air is absurd.  With some open windows and a few well-placed fans, most houses are perfectly comfortable without blowing all that cold air around.  This is not just an environmental stance.  Long before I became environmentally concerned obsessed, I preferred a natural breeze to the throat-stiffening, headache-producing, odor-trapping refrigeration that comes with air conditioning.

            Nowadays, I care even more, due to my quest to hand my kids a living planet.  Why the hell would I turn on air conditioning when the ocean breezes seem to be doing the job just fine?

            Unfortunately, my husband is a bit more of a fan of air conditioning.  He would prefer to have it on all the time.  Zachary and I like fresh air.  So, we have made a compromise.  Open windows when awake, air conditioning when asleep.

            Except, it really isn’t much of a compromise.  The boys have allergies, and I think their parents do, too, and we probably should be keeping those allergens out at night.  More to the point, I am a little paranoid about leaving the kids’ windows open at night.  Especially now, as their room is right at the front of the house and we live on one story.  It would be way too easy for someone to slice a screen and lay hands on my little guys, who – frustrating though they are when awake – are very, very sweet while fast asleep.  I could actually imagine someone wanting to make off with one of them if the only view he or she got was a sleeping child.

            I have every faith in my ability to hear, should someone break a window.  Having babies has made me a much lighter sleeper, and every time one of them coughs down the hall, I wake up.  Sliced screens?  Not so much.

            So, we lock up tight at night and switch on the A/C.  We probably would anyway, since J cannot sleep well without it, but really, I haven’t given much here.  And, lately, what before seemed like caution now seems like the smallest of security measures.  (This is the point where my mother-in-law might want to stop reading.)

            You see, we have had a number of nighttime burglaries in the neighborhood.  Some guy in a ski mask breaks into houses with open windows and elderly female residents.  Nice.  Although I am not elderly, I am not willing to take my chances that he remains satisfied with the geriatric population.

            So, I have gotten my butt in gear and crossed the following items off my to-do list: appointment with security system, safety deposit box, sending the manuscript file to a friend in case the thief steals my computer and my backup, and air conditioning duct cleaning.  Looks like our A/C is here to stay.

19 responses to “Just open the damned windows

  1. I think air conditioners are all about humidity. We live in the desert and have a “swamp cooler” which in almost 6 years has never run 24 hours straight. We used to live in a humid region, and the A/C was on for 6 months of the year in order to survive.

    I hate have A/C on for the same reasons you do. And it’s usually too cold, so I go outside to warm up. But the security thing? I guess I’d be piling on more blankets and learning to deal with it.

  2. I agree with Louise. The need for AC is all about the humidity. If you live somewhere humid having every window in the house open will do no good at all. Sometimes the AC is the only thing that keeps you from sticking your furniture.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go and invest in a security system becaue I’m freaked out by the burglaries in your neighborhood. Yikes!

  3. Oh I’m sorry to hear that! That is concerning and frustrating. We have a security system too (in our “upscale neighborhood” – so much for that) and a large dog. And we still have to lock any car in the driveway at night because thiefs come through looking for open car doors. They don’t damage anything they just take stuff.

    I like open windows too. I think we can get sick being closed up all day. Our kids on very high on the second floor so we can’t have their windows open ever – freaks me out – too high!

  4. I’m not a fan of a/c either. Growing up in New Orleans it was a bit of a necessity although I wasn’t down with my mother keeping it at 60. I got in a trouble on a daily basis for moving it up to 75.

    luckily where we live now there’s never a need for a/c….not that we have one anyway though 🙂

  5. Now see having lived in a rain forest for much of my life, I think a/c is god’s best invention. Also? here in the middle of the country, we don’t have any ocean breeze. We do have a house that traps heat like a kiln, though.

    Sorry to hear about the prowler, though. That’s not cool.

  6. I recently blogged about this too… people should use their AC’s less. When it is over 90 with 85% humidity I am cranking my AC as well but keeping your house at a respectable temperature not and ice box is a good alternative. I have been at friends houses (or my office for that matter) where I could wear a coat inside because it is so cold. If we could at least cut down on that kind of AC use it would help the environment.

    What if you put wood blocks in the windows from the top of the bottom window to the top of the window so a prowler could not open the window high enough to fit in. My parents used to do that with their windows, they made sure the wood pieces fit perfectly in the window so that nothing they did could make them fall out. Just a suggestion.

    http://green4u.wordpress.com

  7. I’m like you. Natural breezes, no sound of machinery kicking on and off. But you are so right about the rest.

  8. Here in the 9th circle of Hades, we have to run the A/C from May – October most years. I do try to keep it at a respectable level.

    However, if I had cool ocean breezes? Oh yeah. I’d be all about the open windows. Only on the 2nd floor though. I’m already paranoid about burglars. Yikes.

  9. There’s not much choice here for a good part of the year (110+ degrees for several months), but I do like air conditioning, even when it’s not so hot.

    In cooler months, I like to open the windows, but I have a hard time leaving them open at night for security reasons.

    Please send some of your ocean breezes this way!

  10. I am in AZ, below 90 doesn’t exist.

  11. I much prefer sleeping with the windows open with a cool breeze coming in. However, welcome to Canada. Summer temperature of 27C (81F), with the humidex feels like 32C (90F). Relative humidity 70%, and not a breeze to be found. We don’t use the a/c during the day, but definitely have it in the bedrooms for those hot, muggy nights. Basically, my lungs refuse to respond if there is too much moisture in the air. But I’m with you on trying to be environmentally responsible. It becomes a challenge balancing that with reasonable comfort.

    Oh, not very pleasant having to live with the fear of break-ins! I have some Yahoos who live down the road, but they are just loud and annoying, not dangerous.

  12. or you live where you do not have the choice to put on the AC and you lie prone in front of the fan all day and whine. (what, oh yes, i’m talking about me)

  13. I love fresh air as well. However, I am paranoid at night about leaving windows open. And, we live in AZ so in the summer air conditioning is a must use! 120…too hot for me! And no breezes here! So, fresh air in the winter here, during the day, windows closed at night!

  14. I was thinking just the other day of the drain on the environment caused by air conditioning. I think it came after reading a novel set in New Orleans before air conditioning was ever invented and people knew they just had to lie around a lot in the summer and try not to suffocate at night. It’s a tricky decision, isn’t it? But the nighttime prowler sounds scary and it never hurts to have more security in any form.

  15. I was just in upstate NY with the fam-damily and no one has AC, let alone has it on. It was nice and refreshing.

    ‘Cept I live in humidville south and there’s two months out of the year that AC is a god-given right. We keep ours at 82-85 during the day (the dog is pissed!) and 75-78 during the evening.

    I miss evening breezes thru open windows. But the thought of thieves scare me.

  16. I agree with you about AC – I hate it, for so many reasons. I also agree with the commentors that its all about humidity. Here in the midwest it actually IS 100% humitidy more often than not, and it can really be oppressive. But…I still stay away from it as often as possible. We only have a wall unit, so it doesn’t work well anyway. 🙂

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  18. In Austin, AC is a must. Cannot survive without it. But during the springtime (all two weeks of it) I open all my windows during the day because it is so pleasant outside. I wish I could do it more, but no.

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