November 28, 2023

Be Cool


Starting around May of every year, whenever I have a conversation with one of my relatives from some other part of the country, invariably I hear, “Well, I know it’s nothing like where you are, but it’s sure been hot here the last few days.”

Arizona equates to hot. It’s just accepted. There are other places that are hotter, but no one knows anyone who lives there.

To be accurate, not all of Arizona is hot. But most of the country thinks Arizona beef is medium-rare while it’s still walking around, chickens lay soft-boiled eggs, and you can just pull a potato out of the ground, split it, add butter, sour cream and it’s ready to eat.
Arizona is hot, but not that hot.

When I first moved to Arizona I did not fully understand the need for air conditioning. My car didn’t have a/c; the house I rented didn’t have a/c. The first clue I got was when I inquired about the sign in front of the church down the street. It listed three services: “early,” “normal” and “a/c repairmen.” I asked, “You have a special service for a/c repairmen?”

The minister said, “No, that’s when we worship them.”

Most of the country can make do with a window air conditioner. Some places may have two, one in the living room and the other in the bedroom–usually two or three weeks out of the year and you’re done with it. That’s not so in Phoenix.

In the first place, in Phoenix, houses don’t have window air conditioning units. You would have to have one in every window and it still wouldn’t be enough. Even mobile homes need several. A single unit in a mobile home is not possible because it would have to be so big that it would pull the wall right off the home, tear out a strip from floor to ceiling or tip the whole thing over.

If somehow you could manage to support a unit that size, every time you opened the front door, it would blow you out into the yard like spitting out a cherry pit. At the very least, the walls and roof would bulge out, so your mobile home would look like a giant beer can laying on its side. When you shut the unit off, oxygen masks would drop from the ceiling.

The typical Phoenix house needs an air conditioning unit rated at least four tons. I never understood that unit of measure. Does that mean it weighs four tons or it will cool four tons of air an hour? I can understand British Thermal Unit (BTU) as a unit of measure for heat produced, even though a BTU must be pretty small (approximated by the amount of heat produced burning a single wooden match) since most heaters are rated in the thousands.

Maybe somebody should invent a SCU (Siberian Cooling Unit) to measure a/c’s. Nonetheless, a four ton a/c unit is big and the most logical place to put something that big and ugly is on the roof because after you make the air cool, all you have to do is push it into the house and it just naturally falls down. I think there’s some rule about that in nature.

An important word in the previous paragraph is “ugly.” Most new housing developments have restrictions against mounting anything on the roof, including TV antennas and air conditioners. Most new homebuyers don’t object to the TV antenna restriction, because they probably are going to get cable anyway, but they do really get hot about the air conditioning units. But only because they don’t understand.

Up until now, the noise and beauty of the unit was only appreciated by birds flying over and the people who drive around the neighborhood looking at roofs. Taking the unit down off the roof and putting it on the ground not only makes the roofs much more presentable to visitors, but it makes the noise and beauty of the unit more apparent to the home owner as he enjoys a warm summer evening in his back yard.

I was talking to my brother the other day and he said, “Well, I know it’s nothing like where you are, but it’s sure been noisy here the last few days.”

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