26 August 2007

An Argument for Air Conditioning in Maine

When we first came to Maine many years ago, we had lived in a variety of places all around the country - California, Rhode Island, Colorado, Virginia and Florida, just to name a few. We didn't have air conditioning in our homes in every one of these places, but in most of them, we did (I'll let you figure out in which places it was an absolute necessity).

Although we knew Maine had hard winters, we all had spent enough time on the East Coast to know about how hot and humid the summers can be, even near the coast. I was a bit taken aback to find that only a handful of homes in Maine had central A/C, and not many others made use of window units. I might ought to add here that I've always done well in cold weather but I quickly wilt in temperatures above 85. My husband, as fate would have it, is quite the opposite.

We moved into our home in late September, so the first few months were all about heating the house, rather than cooling it. But that next summer was a doozy. We had temperatures in the upper 90s for much of July and August, and humidity levels were off the charts. Please understand, though, that pretty much anything above 50% humidity (or a 60 degree dewpoint) is off the charts in MY book.

For several years, as I grew to know and love the state of Maine, I treasured the color of fall, I adored the coziness of winter, and I welcomed the fresh color of spring. Yet I dreaded summer. While tourists from near and far flocked to Maine each summer, I was holed up in our basement, trying to stay cool, or swimming at the nearest pond or beach. I also became an expert on how to visit local air conditioned establishments while spending the least amount of money. It was freakish, I tell you. I became obsessed with NOT being hot. Understand too that while I'd love to spend all my time in water or in the basement, those options are not a reality in my life. There ARE other things that need to be done!

Why we didn't invest in an air conditioning unit is a mystery to me. I'm not even sure we talked about it. Maybe it just seemed so extravagant. After all, we did have a basement which was cool, and summers were so short...

Alas, two years ago, during a particularly hot stretch, I dragged my husband to the nearest Home Depot and we invested in two small window units: one for our living room/kitchen area, and one for our bedroom. With the strategic use of fans, these two small units will cool our entire home.

I can't tell you what a huge turning point this was in my life. I enjoyed that summer as I've enjoyed no other since coming to Maine. In truth, we only used the air conditioners maybe 2 or 3 times that first summer, but it made those few hot days much more bearable. I was afraid our electric bill would skyrocket, but it didn't. It cost us maybe $10 - $15/month more to cool our home on the very hot days. To me, it's been well worth it.

This summer, as we near the end of August, I've counted: we have used our air conditioners for a total of 7 days this summer. A couple of the days really weren't even that hot, but they were humid enough that we just wanted to dry things out a bit.

Now I love summer, I can't wait for summer, and I never want it to end. Over the past few weeks as I've been painting the inside of the house, I've had the windows open and have enjoyed the cool, pleasant weather. Yet yesterday and today have been a bit uncomfortable, especially for climbing around on ladders, painting. Our little A/C units have kept me more productive and my husband would say they've kept me sane. :)

Copyright © 2007 - Paulla Estes


B said...

I have to admit my AC has run more than 7 days, but of course I am inland and don't get the cool ocean breezes. I too would be melting and quite itchy without them.

realsister said...

I can completely relate! I am looking for a recommendation for a reputable HVAC air conditioning contractor to install central air. Does anyone have a reference? Thanks.