I grew up in Seattle in daylight basement rambler near the water; so close to the water that the living room had floor to ceiling windows to maximize its Puget Sound views. The summer comfort key to my childhood home was the cool basement and its proximity to the water for cooling breezes. We absolutely did not need air conditioning.
Fast forward to adulthood, kids and our first two homes in the more affordable, southern Puget Sound suburbs. Enter “hot-house” reality. New home developments mean less shade-providing large trees. Most newer homes don’t have basements AND most new suburbs aren’t walking distance to Puget Sound.
Fast forward to our 2001 Snoqualmie home building process; after 5 years of living (and suffering) in homes that heated up like ovens during the summer. We sat in Quadrant’s showroom designing our new house when we were asked a life-changing question, “Do you want to add air conditioning to the house?” An immediate YES slid out of both my husband’s and my mouth.
We compromised on some other home options to accommodate the nearly $4,000 pricey upgrade. The home’s exterior didn’t get stone work and the counter tops stayed laminate to afford summer time comfort. We’d been told Snoqualmie is warmer in the summer compared other Puget Sound areas. We were ready.
We moved in November, but air conditioning was always in the back of my mind. We met our new neighbors and checked out each others new houses, discussing all the options we picked while building our homes. Many neighbors were surprised that we “splurged” on air conditioning. We just kept saying that it gets warmer in the valley, our past homes felt like “summer ovens” and if you add air conditioning while building you avoid a big out-of-pocket expense later.
I’ll never forget turning on our air conditioning for the very first time and feeling cold air come out of the floor registers. For 32 years of my life, only heat had spewed out of them. Now magically, cold air did. On our first 90 degree Snoqualmie day, it was a comfortable 75 in my house. I was sold.
Six years into our stint on Cranberry Court, seven of our immediate neighbors forked over $4,000 – $5,000 to add air conditioning to their new-built, “hot like an oven in the summer,” homes.
So for all the Seattle natives living closer to water, it’s true. You probably don’t need air conditioning. But I don’t think the blanket statement, “You don’t need air conditioning in Western Washington,” holds true in the Snoqualmie Valley.
My new home is in the sun all day, no big trees shading it. It has only two north-facing windows to capitalize on the cool northern breezes. If it’s 75 outside, chances are my house is 77 – despite my best (and often irritating) efforts to open every window in the early morning hours to cool the house naturally. It may cool briefly, but heats right back up as soon as the sun gets above Mt. Si.
So I’ve given up trying to be a politically correct, Seattle-native when it comes to my air conditioning. I have it and I won’t ignore its wonderfulness any longer. Shhh…. I don’t even turn it off at night and open windows anymore. Why fight it?
And it turns out from one simple question posed on the Living Snoqualmie Facebook page last night, many of you are air conditioning addicts as well. Even in the face of that infamous Seattle summer comment, “You don’t need air conditioning in Western Washington.”
Maybe in Seattle you don’t need it, but the Snoqualmie Valley is a whole different summer story.