Every year our little town holds a community winter seasonal dance. This year the winter dance was benefiting children’s cancer. It sold out within hours of the tickets being available. I have been on the planning committee for years. It was the one thing I really enjoyed doing. We had everything set up perfectly and ready to go. I noticed it felt a little bit chilly in the hall. It was already snowing outside, but this seemed a little colder than usual. I went over to the thermostat to turn up the heat just a bit. I knew that once the room was filled with all of the guests, it would warm up pretty darn fast. So, I didn’t want to overdo it just then with the heating. I clicked on the heater and in an instant, I heard a huge screech. Luckily, not many people were there yet to hear it, but I was a bit concerned. Next thing I felt was bitterly cold air blasting through the air vents. Somehow the air conditioning had come on. It was so cold that now I was becoming really worried. I was turning the HVAC unit on and off, but nothing was happening. If anything, the air conditioning was getting stronger and stronger. As I began to panic, people started to arrive and notice the cold temperature. No one was happy. The local HVAC technician had just arrived as a guest and he knew right away there was a problem. He at least knew how to turn off the HVAC unit completely. Now that we had the cold air stopped, we figured we would be ok without any heating or cooling once people started to arrive and dance.
Recently, I just went through my first very long months of pregnancy. I think if anyone was really honest with me about what to expect on that journey, I would have adopted kids only. I am not kidding. When I got pregnant for the first time last year, I was floored by how different the experience was for me. Everyone raves and rants about how wonderful pregnancy is, a great nine month journey. No one tells you about all the possible physical challenges you will face. In fact, more people face difficult pregnancies, than those who have a blissful experience. For me, it was all about losing body temperature control. I, honestly, felt like I was kicked into early menopause with the number of hot flashes I had in a day. I was living and breathing by the thermostat box on my HVAC unit. I never knew if I wanted the air conditioner on, or if my body would take a sudden hit with a cold spell and the heater was my best friend! My husband was the least sympathetic person on the face of the earth. He was convinced that it was all in my head and I was over exaggerating my body temperature. I think that scared me more for what was to come as parents, if he didn’t believe me now! I was so tired of processed air conditioning and heating, but nothing else could calm down my hot and cold flashes. The doctor was no help at all. She said that most women, actually, go through this and I would just have to tough it out. Our HVAC technician must have serviced our unit a few times in that short period. I was not having another pregnancy!
When you’re caught in a bad situation, it seems like there’s just one way out. But if studying comic books has taught us anything, it’s that lateral thinking, or thinking outside the box, can provide a creative solution to almost any problem. I’m not a superhero, but there’s a reason guys like Batman and Captain America can beat people much stronger than themselves, based on creative problem solving. People like us, and others, can sidestep important troubles just by being creative.
Last winter, I had to get creative to deal with a harsh winter coming on. I had no working central gas furnace, and this wasn’t going to be a few weeks of frigid weather – it would be more than two to several weeks of harsh ice and snow, which means every house has to have a gas furnace. You need a dependable furnace, and my central heating was completely dead. I didn’t have the money to install a new system, and the heating and air conditioning company said there was a multi-month wait.
I had to hurry, so first I called everyone I knew until I found a couple of space oil furnaces I could borrow. I got some gas to power my small generator, which would be strong enough to run the space oil furnaces all winter. But those were kind of small, so I cut a couple of nice-sized trees for firewood, for the old wood-burning oil furnace down in the basement.
Just to be clear, I never wanted to be a clown. They are normal to me, so it’s not like I live with a bunch of people who look like they escaped from a horror movie. Clowns are usually awesome people, who love kids, telling jokes and having fun. Why else would you get into clowning? But I have no desire to spend my life attending kids’ birthday parties and taking pies to my face. I have higher aspirations.
As fate would have it, I’m obligated to work in my dad’s clown college for now. It’s the only way he will pay for the HVAC certification classes I need. Fortunately, teaching the finer points of grease paint and clown clothing does not require a lot of brainpower, which I need for the next test we have on heating systems. It turns, out HVAC systems are a lot more complicated than I thought. You need to understand some points of science and thermodynamics to really understand the HVAC business. The night instructor is very cool, and really knows her way around an air conditioner. She does teases me sometimes for coming to class with white paint on my neck. In a few more months I will be fully certified for HVAC systems repair, which will mean it’s time to leave the clowning behind and try to find an apprenticeship with a heating and cooling contractor. My dad won’t be happy, but he knows I want to be an AC repair man, not a clown.
Last summer I started working as adjunct Psych professor at this private college. I fell in love at once, it was a stone mansion a man built in the 1800’s for his wife and family. Architecture that rivaled Gothic cathedrals with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. So much of the building was original, and that is what I really loved about it. The stone work, light sconces inside and out lighting the corridors, and french doors to the library, and even some classrooms had their own doors leading to a balcony. Even the smallest, most cramped office had mountains views, I would have been happy in a broom closet provided it had a window. What was not so charming was the outdated HVAC system that heated the classrooms and offices in winter time to tropical temperatures. Summer time was a breeze, literally. I don’t know if the architecture allowed for any central air system, there certainly wasn’t any air conditioning in the building, but being placed up in the mountains it never got hot enough in the summer to need one. Open windows was more than enough. Winter was different. I think the furnace and radiators were original, or as original as possible, and completely wasteful. It was as if the thermostat was set at maximum, an 8am class in winter would get so hot we would be opening the windows for some relief. We could actually see steam spewing from the radiators, and the most dangerous seats were the ones closest to the radiators. Heaven forbid you lean back for a stretch, if you bumped the radiator you were getting burnt!
The innkeepers finally decided to update their HVAC system last season. As a ski resort our heating system is pretty important to us and our clients. Although our guests travel far and wide to spend hours in the cold and snow, they do enjoy the warmth a well working furnace provides. For the dining room they had a gas fireplace installed for warmth and ambience. Before this it was up to the radiators to warm the huge room, we had to turn the thermostat up early on in order to get the room to a decent temperature. It was costly and very wasteful as most of the hot air rose up to the second floor. I was particularly happy about the gas lit fireplace as it was my job to set the tables early on and I was always so cold, especially in the middle of winter. The dining room is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows that the cold pours through. We don’t use curtains as the windows come with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains that keep us in business. During my lunch break I will pull up a chair to the gas fire and get some studying done, that is part of the charm I so enjoy. The staff office is also now connected to the heating system and we don’t have to rely on the space heaters anymore! The computers and monitors did a somewhat decent job in warming the room, but when it got down to the negatives, especially the shifts when I was working until 3am, even the space heaters had a short radius of warmth.
I am employed by the university district in town, it has been a good job. I have been here for numerous years. I hope to retire in another 4 years, however I may retire sooner if my boss keeps giving me more stupid duties. I am so busy, each and every day. I do not have a moment to breathe. I am doing my job, plus numerous other employees’ jobs since they are out on worker’s compensation. I was hired by the district to be a service man. I do light cleaning and repair a few different things around the university. I replace light bulbs or wipe the windows. But now my boss is having me tend to the Heating and A/C systems. I do not know a thing about Heating and A/C systems! I do not even service my own Heating and A/C plan at home. My boss seems to feel that I do know about Heating and A/C systems though, then yesterday I serviced an Heating and A/C plan for the first time in my life. I suppose I did a pretty good job because the plan is still now working. It was difficult to repair the Heating and A/C system. I am older and have a difficult time getting down on my hands and knees. I had to do that while I was servicing the Heating and A/C system, which undoubtedly sucked. My wife thinks that I should retire early, however she does not feel it is right that my boss is taking advantage of me. I agree with her completely, but I will take a penalty if I retire early. I do not want to lose money because of a greedy boss that does not know how to be a leader.
I attend university across the state from my hometown. Because I am in my first year at university, I am unable to keep my automobile on campus. In order to get beach home on breaks, I have to take the bus. I respectfully do not mind taking the bus. I can get papers written or homework all done before I arrive because there is wireless internet. I can take a nap or read a book for fun. I am even able to bring my own food and drinks on the bus. But last week when I went beach home for Thanksgiving break, the bus I was on had no genuinely working air conditioner. It was absolutely awful. I was perspiring so much the entire time, then the leather seats were sticking to my gross sweaty body. The windows were getting fogged up too. I could not focus on a final research paper that I had to complete over break. It was way too hot. I looked around at the other people on the bus plus saw that they too, were all perspiring from the lack of a/c, however when I arrived to the bus station, I ran off the bus and headed for the air conditioned station. The station felt like a dream come true. I did not even mind that my parents were not there waiting for me. I would rest in the station forever if it was air conditioned. I dreaded the return trip home, however thought that maybe I could email the bus station ahead of time to ensure I got on a train with a genuinely working a/c system.
I am thinking of getting a smart thermostat for my HVAC equipment. My dial thermostat is super old and it is basically dead. The thermostat does not always stay at the setting I have it at. Frequently my temperature control is off since the dial always gets bumped or drops a bit over the day. So just about everyday I have to reconfigure my thermostat. I am tired of doing this, also it is not good for my HVAC system. So I am thinking the smart thermostat would be less stress. It would set a climate control program and keep it. Also if I wanted to change it, I don’t have to get up to do. I can just use my phone. I can change the heating and cooling from any location with wifi. That would be really nice. The main reason though, for my change is the money savings. I did not realize how much money a smart thermostat can save you. Now after reading, I understand. The thermostat turns off when you are not home. Also it tells you if you set the HVAC technology at an efficient temperature. It additionally ensures you have clean air filters in the HVAC system to help it run better. Studies have stated the smart thermostat gives you 15% savings in AC and around 10% savings in heating. Each month expect around $20 back that you were not expecting. So after about two years, the smart thermostat pays for itself. I like the idea a lot, I want to save money on heating and air conditioning.
I really hate air conditioning. I hate the odd smell of A/C. Perhaps I have only smelled dirty and stinky air conditioning. But I know that I get sick when air conditioning is on. Also I really don’t like to be cold. I would way rather be overheated. So air conditioning is never something I enjoy. I usually complain about the cooling or I try to locate the thermostat to turn it off. Both my brothers live down south and own air conditioning systems. Everytime I visit them I am upset about the AC. My younger brother has his apartment so cold that I basically dress for Winter. My oldest brother gets me adjusting his climate control when he is not looking. I live up north, so I am not used to AC. My area is all about heating. I am planning to move one day down south though. Will my ideas on cooling change? I wonder if I am in a traditionally hot climate for a long time, will I come to crave AC? It does not seem likely since I hate it, but you never know. I have lived in the north my whole life being cold. So I have no issues cranking up a heater device when necessary. The hotter a home, the better. Maybe my body temperature will reverse in the south and I will feel the same about air conditioning. My brothers certainly have changed a lot. I never would have thought that they would crank AC all day long, everyday. Maybe that is in my future.