I think Ken deserves a standing O for working on the gutters all afternoon! Saaah-LUTE!
Seriously, he worked on them for a solid 4 hours, and our outside thermometer read 93°, so the temp on the roof had to be well over 100°. I couldn't do a whole lot to help, just pass the gutter guards up to him as needed, toss up a bottle of water, etc. I tried to convince him to do half today, half next weekend, but he got to a spot where it went faster and easier, and he was able to get every bit of it done. We hope that with the gutter guards, it will be a simple matter of him going up and hosing off the guards every so often--not this on-your-knees intensive cleaning. Thanks, Honey!
While the trees that surround our house can make a mess in the gutters, they also provide a valuable service in shading and cooling our house. I was reading the latest Time magazine today, and Joe Klein had a great column about air conditioning. Some of you may know that we don't have central air here at Nutwood. We've always been a little puzzled by that, because the guy that built our house (and the only owner up until we bought it) was a contractor, so you'd think he would have put in central air. However, it IS well-designed, with no east- or west-facing windows, until we put a small east window in our bedroom. There is never direct sunlight in our house, and the front yard (the south side) is full of trees, so the only side that gets sunlight is the north side. When we open up all the windows, there is an excellent cross-breeze, and the ceiling fans keep the air moving. Bottom line, the only time it gets really bad is when it gets above 90°, and we bought a portable air conditioner for the living room for when that happens. We also have a window A/C unit in the bedroom, and we probably turn that on more often--it's so hard to sleep when it's hot and muggy.
In his column, Klein wrote about how he really dislikes air conditioning, loves the fresh air, and loves the warm weather. I can relate! I've always been that way, loving the warm weather (someone once told me that it's part of being half-Vulcan...ha!), and feeling chilled even when it's 75° or so. Ken can attest to my cold toes! Klein had a better point, though. Why do so many places crank the air until it's absolutely frigid? I've noticed this especially in extremely hot climates, like Florida and Las Vegas. Going from 90+ temps into a place of business that has the air set to about 65° is jarring and upsetting to my fragile personal ecosystem!
Klein wrote that while air conditioning accounts for an estimated 4% of our energy usage (heating is around 7%, considerably higher), some estimates show a savings of 4% for every degree you turn up your thermostat. For example, if you now set your thermostat at 70° and move it to 75°, you will save 20% of the cost and energy on your air conditioning bill. That's pretty significant.
I also wonder why people would set their thermostats to 65-70° in the summer, but in the winter, they set it to 70-75°. Huh? If you want it 75° in the winter, why do you make it 65° in the summer? That is highly illogical.
In my opinion, there's something wrong when we go into a place in the summer that is so chilly that I have to wear a freakin' sweater or jacket. Open the window and let in a little summer, for Pete's sake!