Losing My $&%*

I warned you it would happen. In my last post, I said it would happen.

It is 88 degrees in my apartment.

Yes. IN.

See?

Remember how I spent 90 minutes sweating and swearing, installing new energy-efficient curtains because I knew it was going to be uber-hot this week and my entire living/dining room wall is windows and they face west?

The curtains have done nothing.

Except make it very dark.

Last night I got home from work at 11pm to find that it was 88 degrees then, too. And the A/C was not running, even though the thermostat clearly understood that I had set it at 76. I “cycled the unit” (aka turned it off and back on) and it kicked on. After running continuously for two hours, the temperature had dropped from 88 to a manageable 81. (I celebrated each degree with a little “woo-hoo!” and upwardly-thrust arms.) By the time I woke up this morning, it was at 76 where it belonged. But an hour and a half later, it was creeping upward. The A/C was still running, so rather than throwing things in frustration for having spent $200+ on useless curtains and God knows how much more on wasted energy, I started hypothesizing about why this was happening.

First of all, the thermostat is on a shared wall. My Budd-ish neighbor, whose name is Toni but who goes by Shanti-Mayi (this year), lives on the other side of the wall, and I suspect that heat from her side of the building is seeping through. Secondly, the thermostat is about six feet from the un-air conditioned hallway, so I think it’s picking up some heat from there. And third, it’s about four feet from the ceiling, and I live on the top floor, which means I suspect it’s picking up heat from the roof. It’s not really 88 in here… it’s probably more like a stuffy 84, but it’s well above what it’s supposed to be.

Can’t fix any of that.

On top of this, my power company has a program that cycles the electricity the program’s subscribers use. They do it to prevent brown-outs on high-demand days. When you live in a house and have an efficient and effective HVAC system, this saves you some coin, even if it gets a little warmer than you’d like during the day, when you’re not home, because you have a normal 9-5 job. When you live in an apartment complex, the management company forces you to participate, and you don’t really save any money but you suffer the lack of full power, particularly when you work nights and weekends and the 99-degree day is your day off. I think that’s a big part of the problem here, since the banner at the top of my thermostat’s screen currently says SAVINGS and I can hear the unit kicking through various power levels.

Two and a half hours ago, when I got home from running errands in my air-conditioned car, and after a trip to the perfectly cooled grocery store, it was 88 in here and the unit wasn’t running at all. So I “cycled” it, and it kicked back on and has been running on some variant of power ever since.

It is still 88 in here.

It had dropped to 87, but then I moved.

I told Brad about this via Facebook IM. “You should call them,” he said.

“Call who?”

“Maintenance.”

“It’s not broken. It works. It blows cold air. The thermostat is a lie and the power company is cycling the power levels.”

“But it’s hot?”

“Huh?”

“It’s still hot.”

“Yes.”

“So call them.”

“Call who?”

“Maintenance. They have to figure out a way to fix it.”

“They can’t fix it. It’s not broken.”

“Something’s wrong though.”

“Yes. The thermostat is in a stupid place. But they can’t move it.”

“Still.”

Now I started typing pretty hard. “Um, unless they can air-condition the hallway or paint the roof with heat-repelling paint in the next hour, there is zero point in calling them.”

“Call the power company.”

At this point I logged off of Facebook because I was grumpy and Brad was making it worse.

And then you know what I wondered? The HVAC vents are directly below the curtains. I wondered if my A/C was blowing up between the windows and the curtains and getting trapped there by the energy-efficient, hot-and-cold blocking panels.

So now all my dining room chairs are pushed up against my curtains to keep them back from the vents.

It doesn’t appear to be working. I’m not sure if that makes me feel better or worse.

I’m pretty sure I’m hosed, here, at least until the sun that is 93% blocked out of my apartment goes down entirely.

I can’t do anything. I can’t clean or the temperature will go up because my body heat will go up. I can’t turn on the oven, so I’m cooking in the Crock Pot to keep the entire (tiny) kitchen from heating up. All the lights are off. The stupid curtains are closed (as closed as they can be, since they’re not wide enough) and smooshed up against the windows. I can’t do laundry, because the dryer will make it hotter in here.  The cat, who I tend to rename Scarlet in the summer because she’s very dramatic about heat, is wandering around sort of bleary-eyed and then heaving sighs and flopping down on various relatively cool surfaces: the coffee table, the bathroom floor. Sometimes she lays down behind the oscillating fan that’s on full-blast in my bedroom. (Behind it, because she doesn’t like being blown on.)

I am in some sort of Pakistani cave.

Even Osama bin Laden didn’t live like this.

Turns out.

I moved into this place on August 27th of last year. I had this temperature problem then, though it wasn’t above 84 in here at any point. It is currently June 8th, which leads me to believe the summer can, and will, get hotter. I am hoping for some sort of monster storm to knock back this soul-melting, mood-morphing heat… but then the power could go out and leave everyone totally screwed.

Still, I’d go stand in the rain.

Sigh.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the refrigerator.

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15 thoughts on “Losing My $&%*

  1. All I can say, thesinglecell, if I didn’t live in Kansas City which I realize isn’t quite next door for you, I would have you coming over to my place. Truly, anything over 75 is too damn hot (when the outside temperature is hotter than the sun this week) I think that is a good idea to push the curtains back to help the air flow. Your landlord needs to figure out how to help your situation. I am sweating in sympathy for you.

    • Don’t be too hard on the curtains. It’s not their fault they’re inadequate. I think it’s down to whoever built the joint. But I’m about to make a cocktail. All will be well.

  2. I liked how the curtains looked all pushed back and flat like that. I know that’s not what this post is about, but just sayin’.

    My thermostat does something similar, though not as bad. I have to keep it low – about 70 – because it won’t kick on until it gets to about 76 or so. That sounds super cool compared to your 88 (even 86), but I can’t let it get up so high. It hurts my heart to come home and find my poor little doggie panting and breathing all heavy in a burning up house. On the flip side, it doesn’t shut off until it gets down about 4 degrees below where I’ve set it. So I’m burning up my electric bill when I’m not even in the house to enjoy the cool.

    I agree about the situational aspect of your apartment. Being on the top floor means no noisy, stomping neighbors above. But it also means that you don’t have the extra insulation to help keep in the cool in summer and the heat in winter.

    Hopefully it won’t be like this all summer!

    • Ha, your opinion is welcome vis-a-vis the curtains. I talked to my neighbor across the hall. She’s confirmed it: the problem is the roof. Apparently several top-floor residents complain of the same problem. It’s a flat roof. No mercy. Fortunately, there was a thunderstorm that helped a bit. I stood outside in it.

  3. I hope you get a break from the heat, I can’t stand it when it is too hot. Or you could just mix another cocktail, if you have enough of them you won’t give a $%&* what the thermostat says. 🙂

    • That’s pretty much what happened. 🙂 We got a good thunderstorm at 8:15 last night, which thankfully did NOT knock the power out, and I went out and stood in the rain. That felt really good. And then gradually the thermostat reflected lower temperatures. RIght now it’s where it’s supposed to be. But I talked to a neighbor and she told me that most of the people who live on the top floor in the buildings here have the same complaint. It’s the flat roofs. Not enough insulation. Sigh.

  4. Do you happen to have your intake thing blocked off? That sucks the hot air out and recycles into cold. It’s a square looking thing on the wall…

    • Hi Ginger! No, the return vent is wide open. I’ve learned from fellow top-floor residents in the complex that we all have the same problem. It’s the flat, black, inadequately insulated roof.

  5. I had the same problem when I lived in a top floor apartment in Brooklyn. I could never get the apartment to cool off, and was also told by the super that there’s nothing to do about it due to the floor level and the building’s construction. I do enjoy that the freezer-cooled-vodka saved the day. I became quite the fan of freezer-cooled wine.

    • Ha. In my memory, freezers you can lay down in are only for dead bodies. 🙂 I will tell you this: in my last apartment, where the A/C just didn’t work, I used to occasionally sleep with those blue blocks of frozen whatever-it-is that you put in a cooler. True story. Anyway, it’s been much better since that day… since the outdoor temps have been better, it’s rained a couple of times and it’s been a little less brightly sunny.

      • In the UK, quite a few people have those chest freezers (as they call them). I haven’t looked in many and now I don’t think I’d dare. I might discover something………. How very ‘Desperate Housewives’. 🙂

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