Regular readers of this column know I live in Central Florida. In fact, I am south of both Orlando and Tampa, and north of Miami, in the center of the state. We do not get sea breezes here.
One thing about Central Florida — it doesn’t get cold that often. This means we have lovely Februarys, not freezing our rear ends off and dealing with ice. It also means that we pay for it in horrible Augusts, when you try to stay in air conditioning as much as possible and the outdoors is your humid enemy.
There were people here before air conditioning. I realize that. What I don’t get is how they survived these hot summers. I mean, the heat index can occasionally dance around 100. How did they not sweat to death?
I got a taste of what no air conditioning in the summer was like when Hurricane Irma paid us a visit a couple of years ago. The storm knocked out our power for four or five days.
Let me be blunt: It was not fun! It was quite unpleasant. Sleep? That was difficult. Cold showers were welcome because it was one way to cool off from the heat. I probably sweated more in those few days without power than I normally do in a full year.
Yes, cooling the house isn’t cheap. Our electric bill climbs in the summer just like everyone else’s. But it beats the alternative.
So when my best friend Tina shared an article with me she picked up at www.wtsp.com concerning federal guidelines for setting your air conditioner, I found myself appalled.
Energy Star, which is a federal program, released some recommendations regarding your a/c unit. They consist of the following three points:
One, when you’re at home, the thermostat should be set no lower than 78 degrees. Two, if you’re away or out of the house, it should be set to 85 degrees. And third, when you’re sleeping, the temperature should be set to a toasty 82 degrees.
I will tell you what I told Tina when she shared the article with me: That’s not gonna fly at my house.
I don’t know anything about the people who came up with these temperatures, but I’m pretty sure of one thing: They don’t live in Florida. No one in their right mind would live here and think this idea made any sense.
First, there is Don. Don likes cool temperatures in the house, to the point that I’ve wondered if he was born in a freezer. It would be easier to move my lovely town of Sebring to either Florida coast than to get my husband to go along with these recommendations.
Second, there’s my 91-year-old mother-in-law, who lives with us. Being without air conditioning nearly killed her after Irma. Am I going to subject her to this insane criteria? I don’t think so.
Then there is the fact that I have pets. I am not setting the thermostat to “roast” when I’m not home while I have dogs in the house. They would be miserable. It might be bad for their health. So, forget that.
And who’s the bright mind that came up with the idea that 82 degrees is a great sleeping temperature? Here’s a clue: It’s not. A warm room is not conducive to a decent night’s rest. At least it isn’t for people I know. Sweating and sleeping usually don’t mix.
Look, I’m all for saving money and whatnot. That’s a great goal. But making yourself horribly uncomfortable when you might not have to? That seems foolish to me.
So, if you come to my house in the summer, don’t expect me to force you to sweat. We’ll keep cool and find reasons not to venture outside together. Yes, Central Florida summers are brutal. But it’s worth it for pleasant winters. At least that’s what I tell myself.