So yeah, it’s been HOT. This past week most days it’s got up to about 45º at peak hours and only “cooling down” to about 27º overnight, and it looks to be staying that way for a while yet. It’s been amusing to watch my Twitter timeline and folks in London crying HEATWAVE at 32º (overnight 16º). When I point out what an actual heat wave is the inevitable response is that we are used to these temps and that our streets, etc are better equipped (narrow and shady) and that we all have AC down here. Which of course is the opinion of people who have only stayed in the touristic centre here at hotels or AirBnBs. But if you step outside the old town, even five minutes away, suddenly the streets are wider, no shade anywhere. The reality of living here is quite different.
First of all NOBODY is well-equipped to be out and about for long at 45ºC, especially out in the sun. It’s brutal, it hurts and it’s unhealthy. So it’s not that we are “used to it” here, it’s more that we know how to live with it, using coping strategies. Whenever possible, we just don’t go out. I mean, I grew up in Manitoba and -40º was not unheard of during peak winter. So when it got too cold we turned up the heat as much as we could afford to and stayed home. Plus houses there are properly insulated. Not so in Spain.
I remember my first 18 years here in Sevilla, living on the top floor (3rd European, 4th North American) of a building without either a lift or AC/ Heating. Sure I had lots of lovely balconies, but they all had single-paned windows and didn’t close “air tight” by any stretch of the imagination, so it was freezing in winter and a fucking oven in summer. Looking back I honestly don’t know how I managed, other than, well, I was 20-30 years younger.
Now I am in a smaller place, again on the top floor (European 2nd this time) and facing north, so at least I don’t have to shutter everything up in the afternoon and live in darkness all summer. But it’s still bloody hot. By noon it’s 31º IN THE LIVING ROOM. I try to hold off on the AC until 2 pm when the cheaper electricity rates kick in, so often 11-2 is the time I go out to do some shopping and maybe have a quick tapita somewhere. After that I stay home.
But I would never have got through any summer here without electric fans. I have tried to pass on this wisdom to my UK friends but many still prefer to believe that living in southern Spain makes you impervious to HEAT. Trust me. A decent electric fan will cost maybe 25-35 euros. Sure you can go more high-end, but I never have felt the need. Important – get one on a stand so the fan is at face-level when you are sitting down. Get one with wide blades. Also, test it out in the shop to see how loud it is (for sleeping). I was once given a floor fan that looked a bit like a jet engine and ended up sounding like one too. If you can afford it, get one for the living room and also each bedroom, so you’re not always having to move them around.
Even if you have AC, also use the fans. They cost next to nothing to run but THEY MOVE THE AIR AROUND which already makes you feel cooler, even if the air inside your living room is 31º. This means I can keep the AC set fairly low (reaching room temp 26º) but with the fans gently blowing the cooler air over me, well you see my point. AC alone means you have to get your room down to a much colder temp to benefit from it. But AC + fan… it’s a winner.
I don’t know why everyone in the UK doesn’t have a fan or three by now, given that the summers there have been getting progressively hotter over the years, so these heat waves don’t exactly come as a surprise any more. As for here… summers in Sevilla have always been this hot in July and August. Yes, it’s still a heat wave, and no we are never used to it, because we have human bodies just like everyone else does. The difference is we have different customs here, when we go out, what we wear, what we eat and drink, as well as the aforementioned tips for keeping our homes at least coolish. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. 🙂
So right! But the Brits loves complaining about the weather and the news likes to have something to panic about!
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I guess that was mostly a VERY long-winded way of saying that we’re not so much used to the heat down here as we are used to doing what we can about it.
I have an old house with a finished attic for the bedroom floor and it is just gruesome up there in the afternoons right now, not least because the aircon up there has registers but no return draws, I figure it was added in after the house was built. I’m still trying to train the Engineer out of OPENING ALL THE BLINDS each morning in the heat of summer, no one is up there to care if it’s dark (at least not on the side the sun hits). There’s a register next to his desk on the shaded side and he just is not connecting the dots. 🤬
I love the little bowl-shaped circulator fans that a lot of companies have now started making (when I started buying them decades ago only one manufacturer did). They move a shit ton of air and you can get floor or stand models, but the floor models tilt — that’s part of the design, to blow the cooler air at floor level upward and get a mix – so it can me positioned to hit your face or the general vicinity your face will pass through. All different sizes. Most of them are pretty quiet too. You can tell how much air mves through them by how often you have to clean the suckers, which really requires a can of forced air like you’d use on your computer, but it’s worth the nuisance.
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CE has to learn to shut all the bedroom blinds and pretend like he’s in Sevilla. Here it’s all about working with what is actually happening OUT THERE. Most people with south facing windows live in darkness almost all summer, which is why I’m so happy to be facing north.
I googled “bowl-shaped circulator fans” and that was the “jet engine” style I mentioned earlier, though the one I had was enormous (actually inherited it from a previous flatmate). Holy fuck it was loud.
What I like about my simple fans “onna stick” is that they can be taken apart and rinsed off in the shower a couple times a season.
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Ah. My “jet engines” have all been silent turbines. One company made them very well for the longest time and then fell prey to the modern “slap together shit that doesn’t last” cheap-out style of manufacturing but fortunately others have learned to make quiet ones. Amazon, even.
Deb Barnes said:
I’m lucky my house is north facing so my back garden is partly in shade all day long. This means my kitchen/dining room are shady and also my bedroom. I just stay in that side of the house when it’s hot.
I’m not looking forward to being in the office tomorrow when we’re hitting a high of 37. My office is in full sun all morning, the blinds aren’t terribly effective and the fan really does just seem to waft hot air. I read a tip of attaching long ice pops to the fan casing with little rubber bands so the air is passing over ice. But for one day I’m sure I’ll cope – working from home anyway on Tuesday. On Wednesday we are back to the usual British summertime weather…rain 😀
I read somewhere that the British press are making such a big thing of it to get the point across to the usual suspects who, at the first sign of hot weather, head to a local green space, strip off and start drinking, resulting in serious bouts of heat stroke. Apparently the theory is that if the press shout about it enough some of it will get through.
Although that does make sense in a way, I think it’s more likely the press are doing what the press always do – stir up panic.
I’ll be glad when the temps drop again, I don’t like heat.
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I wonder if hanging one of those freezer bricks over the fan would help. Yeah, also happy about facing north so I don’t have to live in total darkness all summer. It’s “sad” enough that we have to close the awning over the patio June-August. Meanwhile we’ve had close to 300 heat wave related deaths in Spain. It’s real.