Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Missing/Enjoying: Fresh air...

It might be difficult to tell, but I took this photo in winter. January to be precise. And yes, the windows were wide open.

No, I'm not crazy.

Ok, maybe I am, I am from Queensland, Australia, after all.

Now, coming from Queensland, I know a few things about the cold - mostly that the novelty is nice, even if I feel I need to sit on a heater just to stay warm. Having lived in the tropics and subtropics for the best part of the last 10 years, I know a lot more about living in hot, humid climates. The most important thing to remember is when to open the windows and curtains or blinds.

In winter, in Warwick, Queensland, I have memories of my parents opening windows for short periods during the warmest part of the day and usually on the sheltered or sunny side of the house. The windows were shut tight an hour or two (or three) before the sun went down, and might not open the next day. In summer, east facing windows were shut and curtains drawn after 8 am and opened after midday, when the windows and curtains on the west side of the house were closed up. In Brisbane it was relatively easy to do the same thing, although in summer we would open the house up once the sun was down, to let the heat out.

This practice allowed for some fresh air coming into the home, most of the year. And it was good. It wasn't until last summer, our first in Manhattan, KS, that I realised how much I like sleeping with windows open when night time temperatures are above 20 C (~70 F). I realised this because there were many nights when we couldn't open the windows because it was either raining or hotter outside than inside, even if we were only 'cooling' the place to ~30 C (85 F). We would sleep with the ceiling fan moving the hot, heavy air around while we stewed in our sweat.

Summer passed, and there was a brief period in the autumn fall when we could leave the windows open just a little, without getting a chill. And then it was winter proper.... and it was cooooold - Queenslanders know nothing*. The apartment was closed up, stuffy even, so every chance I had, I opened those east facing windows until the thermostat hit 15.555 C (60 F) and then I'd close the place up again.

It was worth it.

And now it's summer again. And it can be really, really hot - over 38 C (100 F) in-the-shade hot. And our apartment faces east. It's on the top story. There's a concrete carpark outside. Oh and the hottest part of the day is around 2-3 pm, sometimes later. Hot-box much? Some days there's nothing else to do but close the windows and blinds and turn on the A/C....

Initially, just like last summer, we were 'cooling' the place to ~30 C, but Jimmy and I were still sweaty, cranky creatures in the stuffy hot-box. So, after a few really, really hot days, I turned the A/C to 28 C and it made a huge difference. The apartment was still warm, but the temperature much more bearable, and we weren't sweating anywhere near as much. Even Michael noted that the 2 degrees Celsius made a huge difference. And no, the A/C doesn't seem to be working harder to maintain the lower temperature.

But the funny thing is that when the day is mild and the maximum hovers around 30 C, it is actually nice having the windows open, letting the air flow through the apartment, and having the noise of the day drift in and out. The apartment might be hotter than it would be if we closed the place up and turned on the A/C, but there is just something about fresh air.

Hot or cold, fresh air is what it is: fresh. And I like it. I miss being able to sleep with a window open 9+ months of the year, but we're aiming to move back to Brisbane, so I'll enjoy the dramatic changes in the air, when they come... in a few months... In the meantime, there is always the A/C to keep us from melting, even if it means no fresh air for a few days.

*Ok, ok, so there has been a cold snap across Australia, and there has been snow in parts of Queensland, but 3 days is nothing compared to 3 months. Just saying.

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