It’s hot. Energy sapping hot. We’ve had a very warm summer this year, and the past couple of months have been consistently in the mid to high 30s, with the odd spell of 40° plus, which is what we have at the moment. Our thermometer at home has been showing 42° for the past couple of days, and it’s been dropping to a not much cooler 35° at night. And it’s forecast to continue like this for a few weeks yet.
I don’t really have too much of a problem with the heat personally, but my wife, who is born and bred in the tropics of SE Asia has been finding it difficult to cope with. Her excuse is that all her adult life she has worked in air conditioned offices, travelled on air conditioned buses and trains, and lived in air conditioned apartments.
I don’t much care for air conditioning myself. I find it plays havoc with my sinuses, and makes me drowsy – perhaps because I’m yawning a lot in an instinctive effort to clear my sinuses. I’m quite happy with a fan when the weather is like this.
The first time I was in Bangkok, back in 1971 or thereabouts, when I first arrived I moved into an air-con hotel. It was very hot outside, but in the hotel, they kept the air-con turned down to about 22° (it seems to be a habit with the Thais – even today the Metro and the Skytrain are always bloody freezing, as are most of the shopping malls). Although it was kind of delicious to come off the street into this refrigerated atmosphere, within a couple of days of to-ing and fro-ing in and out of the hotel, I developed a really bad bronchial cough. I figured that it was the constant change in temperature and humidity that was to blame, so I moved out of that hotel and found myself a cheap Chinese hotel near the station which only had overhead fans (but with the added bonus of several pretty, resident ‘companions’ available if you so desired), and acclimatised to the high temperature and humidity naturally. My cough disappeared after a couple of weeks, and since then I’ve tended to avoid air-con whenever possible.
However, as I said, my wife is not so tolerant of the heat, and the past couple of months has been complaining about the heat every third sentence. It’s been a bloody nightmare, actually; she’s been rigging up all these Heath-Robinson constructions in an effort to cool down – cool boxes with frozen water bottles in them with fans blowing over them, wet towels draped over every available surface, bits of string with wet towels hung in front of fans, to mention but a few. I’ve been cursing as I struggle to negotiate all the obstacle courses she’s busy setting up, cursing because she’s used all the ice for one of her crackpot ideas, cursing because I can’t get anything in or out of the freezer, which is totally full of cold blocks and water bottles, and cursing mostly because I know that all her efforts are for naught.
I kept telling her to just stand under a cold shower when she gets hot and not dry off after, like I do, but we’ve had such a sustained warm spell that even the cold shower is tepid, however long you run it.
So I’ve finally capitulated, and we will get an air conditioning unit for the office, which is where we tend to spend most of our time when we’re at home.
But it’s not quite that simple. The house is old, the electrics are antiquated, and at some point in the near future needs completely re-wiring. And there is no power supply in the office man enough to run the air-con unit. It’s only slightly better than a lighting circuit – ok to run the computers etc, but not much more than that.
So I’ve spent the best part of the day today running trunking and wire from the fuse box through concrete up into and across the loft (which I’ve insulated with Rockwool – lovely stuff to roll around in when you’re sweating like buggery) and down into the office where the air-con unit is to be sited. And I connected the wire to a new contact breaker I installed in the fuse box which is dedicated to the air-con. All this in 42° heat (much more up in the loft – probably close to 50°). Phew! Sweat? I must have lost a couple of gallons.
Tomorrow I’ll go to a shop I found on the ‘net that’s got some good deals at the moment and order the unit. It will cost about €300 (it’s a real cheapie – 9000 BTU inverter, but does heating in the winter, too), plus another €70-80 for fitting (the fitters demand that there is a power supply ready and available, hence today’s efforts). I was going to try fitting it myself, but when I Googled it, there was all sorts of stuff about vacuum pumps and refrigerants, which I know nothing about, so I’ll have to pay for the fitting. Goes against the grain, but I know my limits.
What a bloody palaver.
The things we do for love…