Years ago, when our family lived in our first home on the south shore of Long Island, air conditioning was a luxury we experienced only at places like the local movie theatre. We certainly had none in our house, and that was perfectly all right. There were only a few days during the year when things were hot enough to be uncomfortable.
In 1967, when we moved to our second home - a grand total of three blocks away from the first one - we entered the world of Climate Control: We now had a house that was equipped with (gasp!) central air conditioning.
No longer did we have to sleep on top of our bedclothes on those sweltering summer nights, with only a fan to stir the sultry air. Now we spent our summer days in electrically generated comfort.
Upon being graduated from college and moving to Sweat City, I found myself living in the sort of climate in which air conditioning was not a luxury, but a necessity. Sure, the hardy settlers of coastal Texas had managed to make a life for themselves in the blast furnace-like heat, but most of the Northerners who, at the time, were migrating to the Sunbelt in great hordes, were in no wise like those old-time Texians. We were, rather, conditioned to conditioning. We had become Temperature-Wimps.
Houston, focus of one of the great surges of population growth in the mid-1970’s, would never have seen one iota of that growth without cheap energy. Cheap gasoline allowed people to drive around the monster-sized metropolis; cheap electricity powered the air conditioners that made the city livable.
Atlanta is not nearly the sweatbox that Houston is. The humidity is a lot more reasonable, and, owing to the area’s 1000-foot altitude above sea level, it almost always cools off after the sun goes down, even on the hottest summer days. Compare that with the Texas Gulf Coast, where you can break a sweat merely walking outside to get the newspaper at six a.m.
That said, Atlanta can get brutally hot this time of year... and we pussified Latter-Day Americans need our A/C. We get cranky without it.
And that, of course, is the situation we found ourselves in yesterday evening. I had gone upstairs to fetch something or other and immediately noticed that it was hot and stuffy. Eighty-seven degrees, well above the 77-degree A/C setpoint. Crap!
Now, our upstairs A/C unit is marginal at best, inevitably going down at least once every summer. It will need to be replaced sometime in the next year or two, but we’re trying to squeeze as much life out of it as we can. Was this it? Was this the death knell for our Cool-Machine?
No. Not yet. Our HVAC service came out and established that the problem had been caused by a short in the control circuitry... possibly resulting from one of the myriad storm-related power surges we get here in the Land of Thunderstorms. One replaced part and we were good to go.
We had to endure one night without aircon. It sent SWMBO over the edge... or, at least, downstairs to sleep on the sofa in our still-cool den. But it didn’t bother me too much. Maybe it reminded me of those long-ago summer nights in our first home, when the heat was a pleasant reminder that it was still summer, with school a far-away concern.