A/C a Necessity in New England?

  I remember not all too long ago, yes I am still on what I hope to be the first half of my life, that Central Air-Conditioning was a luxury.  Like the radio, then the television; next the telephone, and now the cell phone, Air-conditioning has become a necessity.  What was before Air-Conditioning?  What did the weather people (yes, politically correct here on Excess Air) say to the elderly before they would recommend "staying inside, out of the heat"?
  I remember what I used to do when I was a kid.  We didn't have the house in the Hamptons, that is for sure!  I remember visiting my Grandmother very often to swim in her pool.  Or maybe the family would head to the beach for the day.  This seems counter-intuitive in my household these days, but it has to be cooler with that breeze off the water, right?  The ride was close to horrible, as we did not have a car with A/C either. 
  I remember spending countless summer days outside playing baseball, golf, or whatever neighborhood game du jour.  I never passed out, got a skin burn, or even remember it being too hot!  But this weekend, when taking a picture of my daughter in her tiny swimming pool, I told her to, "Smile!"  To my surprise she replied, "Daddy, it is too sunny to smile..."  This from a three year old, a very aware, smart, and means the world to me three year old.  The next day, my built-in A/C, essentially a window unit, failed.  So, being the "ACE Technician" I say I am, I pulled that thing out of the chassis and remembered I couldn't even get a set of gauges on it!  How can you fix an appliance when you can't even use the right tools?  Needless to say, the new unit was "installed" a few hours later, to my household's delight.
  This made me think, long into the last few evenings, about what has become of the HVAC industry in New England.  No longer can a family wait until morning to have their A/C diagnosed, but yet it is no problem if they have no heat in the dead of Winter.  No longer can an elderly person take a stroll on a nice Summer day.  No longer do cars cost more with A/C as an option, as it has become "standard".  So, in a time of expendable appliances, how long before I cannot diagnose and fix a central A/C and it becomes viewed like a Refrigerator - just another necessary appliance that is cheaper to replace than fix!  I think we all may forget, some of us only a little, where we came from.  I admit, I once told an old woman who called me years ago on Independence Day to open a window!  She complained and mentioned she didn't see how she would be able to make it through the night.  I still feel a little guilty today, but I genuinely believed it and might have been a little bitter after being in Iraq the previous year.  Did the world really get that much hotter to which we as humans can no longer bear (some experts may argue yes here), or have we taken a luxury and turned it into a necessity?


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  2. I lived in Connecticut for 22 years with some air conditioning. When we bought a house in 1993, the owner left us two window units. My son used one in his room on the first floor. The master bedroom is hotter on the second floor. I tried the other air conditioner a few times, but my wife never let me turn it on while she was in the room. She'd rather take the heat instead of the noise. I remembered we went to sleep in the basement a few nights when it was too hot to sleep on the second floor.

    To answer your question in short: yes, you may need it in a dozen of hot days each year and No, you definitely can live without it.

    Perry from heatExch.com

  3. Chris, I enjoy your philosophizing on this topic! Growing up it never occurred to me that I would "need" AC in my house. On the hottest days, a fan would do the trick. (Granted, we did live in the woods, and I own a house in the woods today. Trees make a difference!) My old car with the triangular vent windows (you're perhaps too young to remember those) was exactly what was needed to keep cool while driving, as long as you were in the front seat and not the back. - C.H.

  4. This conversation has come up a lot in conversation the last couple weeks for sure! I always tell the story of my father who at the time was an HVAC salesmen. He built our house from the ground up in 1980 and installed absolutely 0 air conditioning. So even for an HVAC guy back then it wasn't even a necessity. Over the years we did acquire two window units for the first floor and went central on the second floor however. Seems as time went on for some reason we couldn't tough it out anymore. Today I wouldn't be without it. Not in my home, car, office, or even a vacation rental. A/C or Bust!