Yes, 90 is Hot - It's Portland

People from all over laugh at us Northwesterners when we start to complain when the Fahrenheit hits 90 degrees. They think we are pansies, that we can't take it.

I was at the The North Face (that just reads weird) store in Portland on Friday afternoon when it was about 93 outside. There was a lady in there visiting town from Iowa and she was making snarky comments to the sales associate about how where she comes from this is no big deal.

That's great - I have no issues with that. The thing is, if I like that kind of weather I'd move to Iowa (okay, you're right, I wouldn't), but I like the weather here, where I'll put up with the rain for a few months for the right to have a milder winter and a milder summer. I'd prefer it to be right about 80; Wifey likes it the mid eighties. We both love the sun and trade winds in Hawaii. (Actually, if you don't like Hawaii I'm pretty sure that makes you the spawn of Satan - not that there is anything wrong with that.)

So yes, when it gets 90 in Portland people will complain, because this is not a climate or a people used to having to deal with consistent 90 degree days. It's like Californians complaining about the rain - people everywhere else will give them a hard time when they comment on rain, but they simply don't get that much, and when they do it's annoying.

Heck, there are a lot of Hawaiians in the Northwest - many of them come to our universities and end up staying because there are more job opportunities here - but they don't complain about the cold. They are just the ones you see bundled up in parkas when it hits 70. Heck, I saw some construction workers wearing sweaters and jeans on that 93-degree day - where they came from that's not hot.

So please, don't complain about Portlanders being a bit put off by extreme heat - we aren't used to it. And yes, for us, 90 is extreme heat. 90 for a week is horrible.

It's the same thing when it snows here. We get a little bit of snow on the ground and the city goes into panic mode. We get 4 inches and the city shuts down. People from the Midwest laugh at us because they deal with snow drifts six months out of the year, but again, we don't get snow. It snows about every 2-3 years here, and most of the time it's not much and melts by noon. But when it stays, it does cause problems because it's not something Portlanders make a habit of preparing for - why bother when the chances are it will be a waste of time and money?

That's like a Floridian buying and putting wood over his windows just because it's hurricane season, even though no hurricane is coming.

Now, I will say, it does seem like in the past few years we have experienced more extremes in my part of the world. It does seem like the summers have been hotter - more 90+ days - and the winters have been a little tougher - more snow, more freezing - but that really could just be my own perception. Or maybe it is Global Warming - I'm not a scientist, I can't tell you for sure. All I really know is how it feels - and doing what I do in my other writing persona I know from experience people are always convinced the here and now is always the worst/best/smartest/dumbest/hottest/coldest/insert-your-superlative-here. The truth is it's probably not - it's just what is most recent in memory, or maybe that is true from your experience, but that doesn't make any one thing the most anything.

Sure feels that way though.

This is all a long-winded way for me to say Garoken Energy has always done Wife and I right, and if anyone cares I'd recommend them for your heating and cooling needs.

When we first bought our first (and only) house we had some issue with the furnace and they came out and walked us through how to make sure it was working right, how to change the furnace filter (who knew furnaces had filters?!), and how to work the gas fireplace (looks like wood stove - not one of those fancy ones with a light switch). The tech guy was very pleasant and patient, and despite the fact I paid $120 for this information I thought it was completely worth it.

See, I like it when my heating and cool works. I would never buy a house without air conditioning, because as I noted above 90 is too hot. In fact, in my house, 75 is too hot. I can't sleep when it's that warm...at least not well. Considering the fact I only get 5-6 hours a night during the week anyway, I need that to be quality. And yes, I am picky about that. If you hadn't noticed.

Then about a year ago, just as it was starting to get warm in June, the house suddenly stopped cooling. We were thinking our air conditioner was broken or something, so we called Garoken again. They had a guy out that day and he went straight to the furnace. Apparently our furnace is old (house was built in '85, and it was installed then), they only last about 15-20 years, and ours had been fixed a couple times in the past. Basically the fan and some other pieces were shot to hell. He was honest with us - he said he could try and fix it but no promises, or we could get a new one. He recommended the new one.

Now, at this point I'm wavering a bit. I mean, sure, a new one sounds good, and what else will they tell me, right? At the same time the facts were clear - it was old. He told me it was MAYBE operating at 50% efficiency and the minimum they sell now is 75%. We opted for the new one, an 80% efficiency model (sorry, that's as green as I could afford). Garoken had a crew out the next day to install it and test it out, and it worked great. It was quieter, faster at heating and distributing the cool from the AC, and it should save me money in the long-term. If I cared enough I'd attempt to track that kind of thing, but it's not like I can really do anything with that information - what, I'm going to exchange it for something else? It's not like a shirt I don't like the fit of.

Then there was this past weekend. We were gone most of Saturday but noticed it seemed a little warm in the house when we got home. The thermostat was registering 76, then 77, despite the fact it's set at 74. Sleeping was a little warm, but we brushed it off. Then Sunday came - holy crap!

By late afternoon it was 80 in the house - I think it peaked at 82. It was almost 90 upstairs. The vents were barely forcing out any air. Obviously something was not okay.

After a restless sleep I called Garoken Monday morning, hoping they could get someone out by Tuesday (since it was supposed to be 93 on Monday). I was pleased that they had someone at my house by 1pm, on a day that would presumably be busy, with it being a Monday, hot, and people have their own issues and needing someone to fix things.

So it turns out the filter was way dirty and we need to change it more often (see how this comes full circle?!), and that led to some freezing of the AC unit because it was running constantly, trying to do what the thermostat was demanding of it and bring down the continually rising temperature in the house.

Ever wondered how a AC unit gets thawed? They flip the furnace to Heat. On a 93 degree day, that blows. Still, they got it all fixed up, gave the AC unit a once over, dispensed advice (you know, you really should change your filter), and now everything works great. It cost me $120, but it's something I feel absolutely grateful for paying, because now it's a decent temperature in my house, I slept soundly last night, and I don't have to worry about the possibility of buying a new AC unit.

Perhaps this time I'll learn that thing about changing the air filter...might save me some money...


  1. I wish I had A/C in my house... Can't wait for this wedding planning to be over so I can spend my money on something that will benefit me for more than 5 hours. :)

  2. Now that's funny. :) See, I told you - just get married on the beach in Maui like I did. :)