Summer Heat in September

I carry an iPhone and it has an app that tells you the weather forecast. Mine gives the San Diego ‘cast, of course. But I also programmed it to show me the weather in places where I have family or where I used to live.

Places like Bloomington, Indiana and Minneapolis, MN have been showing cool temps in the 60’s and 70’s. September is a fall month in the Midwest. But in San Diego it’s the hottest month of the year.

In just two days, for instance, the smart-phone weather app says it will be 94 degrees,* and that’s not even September anymore. There’s a heat wave in store for the first week of October.

All my adult life, I have lived without air conditioning at home. This is because I’ve never moved into a house with central air, and running a noisy window AC in my bedroom makes it too hard to sleep.

But not having AC also appeals to my puritan streak. I hate the idea of burning a zillion watts of energy just so I can feel like chilled lettuce in a fridge. It also appeals to my love of the outdoors.

I can’t go through the summer and never hear a bird sing, and the only song I can hear is the monotone hum of an air conditioner. This was especially true when I lived in Minnesota, where you have to close up the house in winter. The thought of being cooped up inside all year long was unbearable, even during hot, oppressive Midwestern summers.

When the temperature approaches 100 degrees in San Diego, we have a summer routine that works pretty well. It cools down here overnight — thank God! — so we open up the house at night. In the morning we close the windows and blinds to keep out the sun and trap the cool air inside our stucco house. Typically that keeps the temperature inside 10-15 degrees less than it is outside.

You learn to gravitate to cool environs. One 100-degree day we went to a Padres baseball game at night and sat along the third-base line, which was fully shaded when the game started at 530 pm. The ballpark is on the bay where cool breezes act as soothing balm, and as darkness fell the earlier heat of the day became a distant memory.

Living with heat in the summer is something we all used to do. You slowed down in the middle of the day. Architects built houses that were naturally ventilated. In a world without air conditioning I’m sure workers would be less productive. But is all that productivity worth the cost of the electricity and the climate change that comes from producing it? It’s sad to think that making ourselves cool is making the world more hot.

About a year ago, before we replaced our old shingled roof with red tiles, we looked into installing solar panels again. And, again, we learned that our use of energy wasn’t worth the investment.

In fact, the guy from the solar company looked up our energy use and was discouraged to find out how little we used each year compared to other people.

So what do other people do?  Do they never turn off the TV? Do they keep lights blazing 24 hours? Maybe it all goes into the air conditioner.

Right now it’s 4:08 p.m. and the thermometer outside says it’s 88 degrees in the shade. Inside, it’s 78 degrees, a ceiling fan spins and my son does his homework.

I’m glad we don’t need air conditioning. I’ll also be glad when the heat of summer finally goes away.

*A second look at the forecast for inland SD County showed high temperatures will actually be 102 degrees!

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