Sunday, April 26, 2009

The A/C Challenge is ON, Yo!

Every spring I play a little game with myself. It is called Must Wait Until As Late in the Season As Possible Before Turning the Air Conditioner On. Do you do this? I am kind of miserly when it comes to cooling and heating the house. (Oddly, I have no problem spending money on other things.) I confess that it's become a test of my toughness, only in my own mind. Early this last week, I walked out my front door and heard the humming of my neighbor's A/C, for the first time this year. I thought, "WIMP! I am mas macho!" Actually it did seem a little silly, because the weather early this week was gorgeous and cool. But Mindy is kind of like a rare orchid or precious medieval manuscript--she needs stable levels of temperature and humidity or she begins to deteriorate.

For the last two years, I've set June 1 as the date I had to get to with no A/C. I will tell you how it goes. Both years we made it, and last year I blasted right through the target date without even feeling any real pain. The main living areas of our house are on the north side, and we have these mega-turbo ceiling fans, so it stays tolerable even when it's warm outside. Upstairs, at night, we just rely on open windows, fans, and stubbornness. It helps that Matt barely notices the ambient temperature of the house, and he doesn't he know where the thermostats are or how to operate them. He just removes clothing until he reaches a comfortable personal climate. I haven't had as much success waiting to turn on the heat in the fall. For two years I've tried to get to November 1, and I only made it once. A few days of taking care of a toddler in a truly frigid house, and I'm like, "Sorry Mother Earth, they don't make Uggs I can wear on my face."

And speaking of loving the earth and all, check into this: our local power company offers to install "load management" switches on your A/C units that they can control by radio. During hours of peak usage during the summer, they'll turn off our A/C compressor for 7.5 minutes out of every 30 minutes. This can happen between the hours of 2-7PM. We lived through a couple of summers of rolling brownouts in California, and if this helps prevent that, and saves us some money, I'm fine with it. (Of course, back then, we didn't know that the whole California brownout thing had been ginned up by Enron.)

So we had the switches installed on both our A/C units--I signed up online, and the installation took like 20 minutes and happened entirely outside--and now we get a $46 rebate for each switch. That is not bad. I bet a lot of power companies are doing similar things--you might be getting leaflets about it in your monthly bill. Seriously, the first summer we lived in this house (we moved in right at the beginning of July, from a two-bedroom apartment in Northern California that didn't even have A/C), I had no idea what air conditioning did to one's electric bill. I opened the bill that first month, and I had a stroke and died, and I'm blogging now from beyond the grave, because lordy lord LORD.

Actually, for this summer, I have devised the ultimate cooling-off and power-saving strategy, and it is that just as it is getting hot as absolute butt in Atlanta, around the beginning of July, we are going to go to the Southern hemisphere, where get this, it will be winter. I don't really know how they manage that, but they must be geniuses down there. Just today I bought plane tickets for us all to go to Sydney and visit my sister and her fam for a few weeks. We had been talking about going, and then yesterday, I was innocently shopping with our mother, and Amy sent me a text message: "Buy some damn plane tickets before I unleash hell, ok?" And everyone has always thought of her as the nice one. Ha! This is the person who called me to congratulate me when she saw that my Facebook friend total went over 100. Of course, she herself has just under a kabillion friends. Sweet as sugar, that one!

19 comments:

Ginny Marie said...

This weekend, we had temperatures in the 80's for one day, and the next day it was rainy and temps dropped to the 40's. We didn't even get a chance to wonder about turning on the A/C! Crazy Chicago weather.

Cassie said...

Ooooooh... Uggs you can wear on your face! I'm on it, dude.

That Amy is one potty-mouthed pastor. ;)

Definitely checking into that complex heating and cooling situation with transmitters and switches and robots and junk. All I know is rebates are good, and our heating/cooling bills are ludicrous here. Thanks for the tip!

Casey said...

Uh, no I don't play that game. I live in FL and we had ours on for most of the winter, yo.

My parents play that game and I remember growing up how miserable it was to be drenched in sweat all the time (they had the June 1st rule too). It was almost 90 here today. Ugh.

Carrie said...

Heat on on Nov. 1 in the South? You are NOT mas macho, lol. We wait until Nov. 1 here in Chicago (Hi Ginny Marie!) because, yep, that's the law my dad laid down when I was growing up in Wisconsin.

Course, you know how soft people get in their old age. I go up to my parents' place now and if it's nippy before baseball season has ended, they've already got their heat on.

AC is another story. We don't even have central air and that actually helps with the great hold out -- you don't get to use the AC until it's so hot and miserable that you're motivated to haul the boxes out of the crawl space and install them in windows. Definitely not gonna happen before June. And even once they're in I'm usually a huge miser about running them. We'll see how I do this summer though since my baby is due July 8.

The Stiletto Mom said...

I turn on the AC in Feb. Really. Just you wait a few years missy when the hot flashes hit and then let's see how tough you are. :)

Amy said...

I totally am, Cassie! :)

Can't WAIT to have you guys here, and if it took a little cross-hemispheric threatening, then so be it. I so wish we could play the AC game in summer, but we don't have air conditioning! So we do things that grandma used to tell stories about--like go to the movies to get out of the heat, sit on the front porch, and oh yeah--WISH WE WERE DEAD.

With your trip coming up, I need to warn you. No central A/C in summer=No central heat in winter. So get to work on those face Uggs and bring some for me!

Veronica said...

Yay! You're going to go visit Amy! That's awesome. My word verification is "funpo," which I think means that you're going to have a fun time with your po-tty mouthed sister, or whatever. :-)

Kelly said...

I caved and put the upstairs AC on last week. I keep it at 75 and so far it has only run occasionally. Our loft gets brutally hot because it's the only room without fans! I am sensing a pre-summer project ;)

The Dental Maven said...

Would love to join your challenge but The Maven husband has some kind of internal percolator which requires constant cooldown, much like a nuclear plant.

Jenni said...

we used to do that challange, but for the past two summers/winters I've been pregnant/had an infant to care for, and you know how preggos feel about summer, and it has to warm for the wee ones when they are very wee (like just born.)

i tagged you for the round the world in 80 clicks meme on my blog. you can link up your sister!

Jane said...

So, is that a monthly rebate? If so... nice deal.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Just wait 'til your perimenopausal, girlfriend, with Frownies plastered on your forehead. At that point, it's FRUGAL be damned.

Keely said...

I didn't know pastors actually had the power to unleash hell. Wow, I'm more impressed with your sister than before.

I can leave the AC forever but the heat goes on, like, middle of September.

fraught said...

I'm married to Mr. Carbon Footprint, and now I'm so feelin the heat. Because I was eyeing the upstairs AC myself last night and thinking I should really, you know, hold off at least until May. And now you have upped the ante and I'm contemplating what it's going to feel like to go to JUNE. Because I'm all about a challenge, oh yes... yep, between you and Mr. CP, I'm probably going to melt into a little puddle in the coming weeks.

SJN said...

mine's been on since Sunday night, but when you're having hot flashes it's a must to survive!

Kate said...

You've inspired me to take on the AC challenge! I'm gonna hold out as long as possible. The only exception is when your parents visit :)

Amy said...

That's a good exception, Kate! You never know when dad will spontaneously combust!

Drama Queen Jenner said...

I've had the a/c on intermittently for a couple of weeks or more. I can some years hold out on the heat until December or January, seeing as how I've had to have the a/c on into November in the past. (I do try to turn the a/c off at night, though.)

bsouth said...

We play the game in reverse - it's all about the central heating over here.

I never believed your sister was the nice one - just don't tell her I said so!