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Summer is coming

Summer is coming. You can tell because it’s baking hot in the sun, the flies are much more plentiful, and outside in the evening when all should be still, instead you can hear the hum or household air-conditioners echoing across the ‘burbs.

Yesterday I spent most of the day at home, as one of the kids wasn’t feeling well. I’m pleased to say that while outside it peaked at around 36 degrees, inside it got only up to about 26 — not brilliant, but quite bearable. So while I do plan to get a ceiling fan fitted in the livingroom, the expense and pollution of air-conditioning seems unnecessary.

(Coincidentally at work yesterday there were aircon faults, so for a while it was warmer there than at home.)

I put it down to home designers of the past being clever about low-tech methods of making houses resistant to heat — even weatherboard houses like mine. Eaves and blinds are in place. Double-glazing and external shutters/blinds aren’t, and I don’t off-hand know if the orientation of the house and windows meets current thinking on the optimum use of shade, but we seem to get by.

In contrast, some of the newer houses you see have enormously big windows, no eaves, no shade, and enormously big air conditioners to match.

Similarly, when my sister got back from Britain a couple of years ago, she mentioned that many of the Brits don’t know how to handle the heat. Some were just unaware of simple things like parking the car in the shade on sunny days, or keeping the blinds down on hot days.

Heat retention in my house may be an issue though. With several hours of windows and doors left open last night, and the temperature outside having dropped to about 18 degrees, inside it was still hovering around 24. I guess that’s where air con really would come in handy.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

10 replies on “Summer is coming”

one good thing about Melbourne is that we rarely get more than 2 stinking hot days in a row. Then you open up all the windows and doors and enjoy the breeze.
PS You’re a good dad having the day off to look after a sick kid!

That’s very hot! What % is the humidity at these temperatures? (As I don’t think in Celcius I had to look at a dual scale thermometer to figure out that 36C is about 96F) Here in Miami it rarely goes above 95F-32C. It is however very humid and A/C is a must most of the year. Practically every building is either partially or fully cooled. Since it is drier in Melbourne a swamp cooler might work and should not cost too much to operate. I hope to have my skilled work visa soon and get to experience your Aussie climate firsthand.

Jed, The figures show that at 11:30am yesterday it was 36.1 degrees, humidity 16%. Once the cool change came through, the humidity rose, eg 12:30pm 24.0 degrees, humidity 55%, and in the evening just before it started raining 8:30pm 20.4 degrees, humidity 81%.

Anon/Andrew: It had mostly cooled down by the morning, thankfully.

Many Brits don’t know how to handle the heat… Well, that’s not really a big surprise as it’s only a couple of days really hot in Britain. A peak of 36 degreees… and you’re writing that ‘summer is coming’. You know, 36 degrees is really a rare thing in England or Belgium (where I live).

Although, if we will get more and more ‘heat waves’ we’ll learn to park the car in the shade.

Anyway, at the moment, it’s 10 degrees in Belgium and I’ve put winter tyres on my car. Winter is coming ;)

Daniel, Those temperature and humidity levels on that chart are all over the place! It seems Melbourne can be both hot and arid as well as cool and damp within a day or two. I have only spent a total of a week or so in Melbourne between two trips to Australia. While there in Sept.06 I did get to experience a rapid weather change that left me very cold and badly dressed wearing shorts and sandals with temperatures quickly falling to the low 50’s.(maybe 12C?) It seems this must be normal Melbourne weather.

As someone living in Hotlanta (Atlanta, GA, USA) who grew up in a house without AC there is a trick. Have Window fans blowing out the hot air at night. As soon as the sun rises, shut the windows and shut the curtains (heavier the better), and the house will stay cool most of the day. The window fan will cool the house off at night.

We have a heat retention problem. The house is fine on the first warm day, but by the night of the second day it’s baking! I’m in Beaumaris so we get a get sea breeze, but it can be a day after the cool change comes in that the house cools down…

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