Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Central A/C, SFNE-Style

I live in what is laughingly called an "unreconstructed Cape Cod." This means a 53- year-old box that needs a lot of work. Although I like my house a lot (I grew up in a classic late 50s tract home, so I like living in a place with an architectural style I can name), I have to admit the "needs a lot of work" thing is the real deal.

Growing up in Virginia Beach, my dad insisted we have central air conditioning. Smart man, my dad. All my friends liked to come play at my house, especially in July. Up until moving here four years ago, I'd never owned a home without central a/c. But this house wasn't even tricked out in numerous window units, as so many around here are. In fact, when we moved in the only window unit was a box in what is now my son's room that, believe it or not, is not set into the window, but instead sits in a hole the previous owners cut through the back wall. (I'm not joking. There's a hole in the back of my house.)

Three years ago, I arrived home from a trip to a friend's wedding in Texas. It was past midnight when I pulled into the driveway, but even in my blurry state I could recognize two things were different inside the house: there were two large boxes sitting on the kitchen floor, and the house felt almost ... cool.

My beloved hubby had gone out while I sojourned in Lubbock with our son and bought and installed two new a/c window units. One in the dining room, one in our bedroom. The real trick to making SFNE-style central air work is by setting up a Rube Goldberg-ish series of small fans that circulate the air throughout each floor. (I keep expecting to have to roll a marble down a shute or drop a weight into a tube to make it work, but all it takes is a lot of extension cords.)

Each summer, Jim makes tweaks to the fan-and-window-unit system, and each summer we're a little cooler in the house. I think he's really got the scheme down this year: Even during the nearly 100 deg. days of the past weekend, the house was pleasantly cool and, well ... pleasant. Proving once again that humidity is the mother of invention.


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