Ambient Temperature

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A bit of a discussion about air conditioning

Submitted: September 10, 2017

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Submitted: September 10, 2017

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Noel Coward’s little ditty about mad dogs and Englishmen has always rung a little bell with our antipodean family because we couldn’t stop work just because it happened to be a sweltering day. Coward’s ditty is probably why I have always carried with me this mental image of some portly, sunburnt Englishman, using a handkerchief (a knot on each corner) for sun protection!  He is standing ankle deep on a crowded beach with a supercilious grin on his face, enjoying the salt air.

No, no, I’m not poking fun at the English, after all, English figures strongly in my own genetic makeup. And yes, I do recall a few quizzical looks from the locals when I worked through the heat of the day in Africa. Just the same, as a matter of record, I never burnt in Africa in quite the same was as I do in the harsh New Zealand sun – we have this hole in the ozone layer, y’know! Anyway, back to the English - I happen to be proud of my English grandchildren, so no, I’m not poking fun!

Having just returned fron a nine week sojourn in England, visiting those grandchildren and their families, I have this nagging question bottled up and wonder if it relates to only the English.

Regardless of where we come from, we all seem to concern ourselves with the weather and the British especially, complain about their own and how, as soon as the school holidays start, the weather packs up! Actually, they are not entirely alone in this, similar rhetoric comes from Kiwi mothers too!

There is a collective longing for temperatures to rise and as soon as the sun manages to pop out, clothing becomes skimpier and every chance is taken to bask in it. Even if temperatures are barely tepid – a tan is the goal, the risk of melanoma on the back-burner. There is an eagerness for warm, stable weather and when it doesn’t present itself, most are irked by the weather man or lady doing their job. So why is it then, that when the English – at least those I rode with – as soon as they hop into their cars, they turn the air conditioning to freezing? Not only is the temperature set to the lowest possible, the fan also blasts its frigid breath over all and sundry! Even kids demand the low temperature, especially when first starting out on a journey! And here’s me thinking that these cooling gizmos in vehicles are supplied so drivers can regulate an ambient, comfortable temperature!

I’ve never found air conditioning particularly comfortable anyway, it dehydrates and tends to irritate the sinuses, which can’t be a good thing.  I’m quite comfortable driving with a window open, or perhaps with the fan moving fresher air around the cab. Yeah, yeah, I know, temperature preference will always differ between people, but haven’t you found on long haul flights, the air conditioning seems to be just a bit too cold? Presumably the cabin temperature depends on whoever sets the thermostat. Some aircraft are downright cold while others are warm enough to shed your sweater. I do get it; if you are sitting, as passengers hopefully do, you will feel cool, while the staff, who work quite hard moving up and down the aisle, will feel quite warm. So in their shoes I too would set the temperature low side. At least most airlines provide a blanket to mitigate the cold.

As for hotels in warmer climes, they use air conditioning, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to attract any patrons! We usually stopover in Singapore where the daytime temperature may be plus or minus thirty degrees C. This time there was a little sign in our room advising that in the interests of conservation - meaning power savings - the temperature had been  set at twenty three degrees. Previously I have seen it as low as sixteen! If you sit in a room for a while, twenty three is comfortable but many wouldn’t need a sheet over them for sleeping. On the other hand, in the lobby and in the restaurant, the temperature seems to be set considerably lower. Something’s not quite right when you need an extra layer to be comfortable in those places – after all, we’re talking about the tropics!

Admittedly, when it comes to the temperature in a room, if there are three people, one of them will be slightly less comfortable than the other two. Nevertheless, I still wonder about the cold artificial blast in those English cars! As far as fresh air is concerned, I’ve had any amount - and cold! Planting trees atop a mountain in a force six southerly straight from Antarctica is any amount fresh enough! Give me warm anytime!

 

 


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