Dear readers,I am posting this column from 2009 tog et you through another hot day...enjoy! (One of my favorites)
Deirdre Reilly: The art of air conditioning – a primer
Today we will be tackling air conditioning. Now, if you are lucky enough, you have central air, and being comfortable in the heat is as simple as putting down your martini or highball, adjusting your ascot and rising from your leather wingback chair while singing out, “I’m going to put the AC on now, Lovey, before we adjourn to our yacht for the night!” You are one of the lucky ones. For the rest of us, using a “Fan to Window AC” strategy is what gets us by. First, we go get our fans from the attic or basement with sweaty, grasping hands. Then we bring them to our living spaces and simply plug them in. Important note: Try to clean your box, standing, or oscillating fan first with wet paper towels; otherwise when the family gathers excitedly in front of the fan, they are blown backward by the dust balls and random, unexplained dirt that has accumulated in the fan, and instead of feeling refreshed, you are coughing and gagging - which only tends to make you hotter. Another note: Children, it is fun to sing into the fan, a joy that central air people will never know. My kids have always gone with “America, the Beautiful.” Try it.
The second part of the “Fan to Window AC” method is, of course, when the mercury continues to rise, and the family gets savvy, and realizes that the fan is simply blowing around hot air. The teens catch on to this first; since they have not secured summer jobs like they promised they would - they are underfoot and have a lot of time to examine why it is so hot in your home. They will yell out sentences like, “You do realize that fans just blow around hot air, dude” and parents, sweating in another room, clench their fists and remember that school is starting up soon. Anyhoo, it is time to locate the window air conditioning units.
This is an art in and of itself. Last year, after you inserted the units into the windows, flushed with feeling real chilled air, you made a vow to yourself. You said, “I shall vow to put these refreshing window units in a place I deem both logical, and easily accessible. A place that makes sense; a place that creates value and peace for the family.” Then, months passed and the first snow fell, and as you were outside brushing snow off the backside of the window unit, you said to yourself, “Gee, it’s February. I should yank these out of here.” You did this, and chucked them in the first available space. So now you are paying for that. They’re spread out all over the place. Simply check the following areas: under the house in the crawl space, in the garage angled crazily in the corner near the rakes and hoes, or crammed in the attic balancing precariously on your old college desk. Now you’re in business!
One challenge of the window units: they never fit, not really. You are either going to be jamming them into the window, or pushing them right through the window, where the unit will either smash to pieces on the lawn, or give a good laugh to your central AC-drunk neighbors, who are watching you out their fancy windows while chatting on their fancy golden cell phones with their brokers and polishing their diamonds. Don’t even give this a moment’s worry, though – you haven’t even reached the hard part yet. You will need an adapter to plug this beast in, and you’ll never find one. You’ll be rummaging through your drawers and closets with a personal body temperature of 150 degrees, and the window unit will be balanced in the window, just taunting you.
It’s time to take a deep breath and re-group. Send a teenager out to buy a new adapter even though you know you have at least thirty hidden in the house, while you and a trusted friend or spouse adjust the unit properly in the window, and then fill in the gaps on either side of the unit with rolled up hand towels. I myself use Christmas towels – they look festive, and may encourage you to remove the units in December, so that you can use the hand towels for the purpose Wal-Mart intended them to be used for – as hand towels. Then, take the newly procured adapter from your hot teen and plug that secured unit right on in.
I’d like you to stand back and just take a moment to look at yourself. You have done it, my friend. Your unit is secure – and, gives off both cool air and a nice holiday feel – and your teens are looking at you admiringly. Sure, this unit is 25 years old and is as loud as an 18-wheeler shifting gears, but you have done it. You have provided cool air for the family, and you will sail through the rest of the summer. Good for you! Now go sit down and enjoy a cool popsicle; you’ve earned it!