Sunday, September 25, 2011

Es zieht!

One of my projects this summer was to install six ceiling fans. It seemed to take forever, although Fritz will tell you that's because I did it the wrong way. Essentially, I would carve out five minutes of time (during naps or quiet time) and scramble to put in a couple of screws. As a consequence, there was perpetually a breaker off and tools and hardware lying all over the room - up high, so that boys wouldn't use a real tool as a toy tool.

Fritz would have done all the ceiling fans at one time, systematically, and then, CLEARLY, it would not have been so much work.

The ceiling fans were part of our energy saving plan. We had the ceilings reinforced for fans when the house was under construction. The thing that really motivated me to get the fans installed was Our House the Oven Well Insulated With Sunlight Streaming in West Facing Windows. We were really toasty. But fans are nice in so many other ways: I find air movement to be physically de-stressing (think: beach), visually relaxing (think: branches gently swaying), and even acoustically soothing (think: white noise). 

Germans don't generally agree with me. Open a window on non-airconditioned public transit and older Germans are prone to yelling "Es zieht!" with the intensity of "I'm melting! Melting!" (I'm sorry, I still like you, but it's TRUE.) The actual translation is more like, "There's a draft!" and the embedded meaning being, "I'm going to catch a nasty summer cold because I'm not wearing a scarf and there's wind on my neck and it already feels stiff!" Needless to say, we didn't have fans in our German apartments. 

After I finished painstakingly hanging all 6 fans, my mother told me that on ALL the DIY-interior-home improvement shows they ALWAYS take the ceiling fans out.

Yup. No cable. Didn't know. Clearly, I'm uncool (ha ha). You know what? I'm okay with that.

I could lecture about passive cooling strategies. But do you really want that? Didn't think so.

Instead, I'll just tell you that air movement lowers the perceived temperature of a space by as much as 7 degrees. That's pretty significant. And to appease the draft-conscious, let me break that down a bit: the faster the air velocity, the more significant the perceived drop in temperature. Most people will be okay with an air velocity around 100 feet per minute; it will cause a temperature drop of about 3-4 degrees. Interestingly, the WARMER the velocitized air is, the faster it can move and people will still be 'comfortable.'  Inversely, if you have COLDER air - say from an AC (that would be about 55 degrees at the source) - then the faster the air is moving, the more 'UNcomfortable' people report being. For this reason, ceilings fans and AC generally don't work well together. Interesting, right? Maybe that's why DIY shows tear out the ceiling fans: the clients already have AC so fans are actual 'uncomfortable?' Doubtful: most importantly for TV, there are a lot of ugly ceiling fans out there. Also, the DIY shows I've seen don't strike me as being particularly...savvy about these things?

In our house, here's what those ceiling fans are LOOKING LIKE these days. Because:

1) Seeing someone else's house is always fun.
2) You deserve it after reading/skimming/hopping all the way to here.
3) I need a chance to show somebody these fans. It was painstakingly tedious, even if it was my own fault.
1. Noah and Mattias' room. This particular fan has 38 screws in it. You know what? I bet it could have been designed  with fewer freaking screws. Bunk beds recently debunked due to toddler climbing skills.
2. Office space sans the usual piles of confiscated 'toys' that comprise my work. We're still not fully setup here; most of my books are in boxes in the basement. But thank you Ikea Expedits for solving some of our storage problems. They're like pseudo-built-ins! There's also a whole house fan in the ceiling. 
3. Loft space and the hottest area of the house due to all the windows. The solar shades helped as much as - if not more than - the fan. More save-me-Ikea-Expedits. Did I mention I put those together this summer, too?
5. Guest room. Most of the house plants live here most of the time and they ADORE the fan. One member of the family adores to dig in the soil of the plants. Said family member is not allowed in the room, usually. You might see some soil on the floor in this photo, and, well, sometimes I just close the door instead of cleaning it up AGAIN. 
6. Our room, to which we've done almost nothing since moving in. Good thing we have a fan, or it'd be kind of monkish. Wait a minute...


Anonymous said...

BUT (yes, it started like this already in my head when I started reading...): The draft thing is really something I could never get used to while living in the States. How can you sleep with a constant draft over your body without getting cold and feeling stiff in the morning? Ah, nice and cozy comforters, right? No, because then you would need it even colder...
Well, I am a friend of open windows, too - if the climate is in a way that you will actually get a cold breeze...and the celing fans are a huge improvement for sure. I remember that I was intructed by my energy-saving husband (also German) to put the AC at no more than 82 during the day (in Texas) and have to ceiling fans on - and I obeyed!

Anonymous said...

Guess each of us is different in what makes us comfortable. I personally relish a light breeze (natural or "fan-made") in addition to the sounds of the crickets, croaking/peeping frogs and a bubbling stream coming through the open windows to lull me into a relaxed, refreshing sleep. Kick off those covers and enjoy what nature provides!!! And there's no stiffness in the morning. Of course, our climate is quite humid and for me there is nothing worse than dead, heavy air. I feel like I'm suffocating and sticking to everything I touch.