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Living in San Carlos July 21, 2011

Air Conditioning? Not in San Carlos.

by Chuck Gillooley

A Luxury More Than a Necessity.

Next to not having a full basement, the most scarce amenity in the typical San Carlos home is probably air conditioning.  If you’ve tripped through enough open houses in San Carlos, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the conspicuous absence of air conditioning in the vast majority of homes.    But as the temperature in San Carlos has been teetering around the 90 degree mark over the past few days, that nagging thought always starts to creep into the mind of homeowners — should we get air conditioning?

The reason most homes in San Carlos don’t have air conditioning is that they don’t need it.   Why?  Today is a perfect example — at 6:00 today in San Carlos it was about 85 degrees — certainly warm enough to get an itchy trigger finger to flip on the AC (if you indeed have AC).  But at exactly the same time in Half Moon Bay, only about 10 miles away as the crow flies, it was 62 degrees and socked in with fog.    That’s a 23 degree difference in a relatively short distance.   Two hours later in San Carlos, it’s a perfect 70 degrees.

That’s why most homeowners forgo the expense of an air conditioning unit – because Mother Nature already provides the service for free.   On the typical summer day while the rest of the country is sweltering, the marine layer that pushes onto the coast every afternoon and evening provides natural cooling for communities on the north peninsula.

The Two Week Exception.

Because Mother Nature likes to throw things into reverse every so often just to see if we’re paying attention, there’s usually two or three weeks in the entire year when the marine layer goes surfing, so to speak.   This reverse weather pattern brings in all of that distressed and foreclosed air from the central valley toward us and makes things downright uncomfortable as temps then top the century mark.  It’s particularly noticeable in older homes that aren’t that well insulated, and in the upper floors of multi-level homes.  For those in San Carlos who do have air conditioning, it’s during these times that you’re able to laugh at the rest of us tightwads.   But those heat waves only last a few days to a week at a time, and then we’re back to our typical blissful weather.

So if you’re new to the area and wondering why you don’t see air conditioning in most of the homes, now you know why.  Hey, if you’re going to shell over a million dollars (or more) for a home, something better be included, right?
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Air Conditioning? Not in San Carlos., 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Comments 3
  • I do agree with you that we – usually – don’t need air conditioning. However, as you said, some of us have poorly insulated walls in our 1950s homes. We do and on hot days, we could use a little relief! Our bedroom is a peninsula and all three sides are poorly insulated, which causes the bedroom to be freezing in the winter and hot in the summer.

    We rely on one of those really cute Amish fireplaces in the winter. They work really, really well. . . and a portable air conditioner that we wheel from the bedroom to the office or other room throughout a very hot day.

    Now, I think I’ll go outside and cool off….

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    • You’re not alone. Most homes in San Carlos have inadequate insulation (unless they’ve been remodeled recently), so even on the moderately-warm days, these homes cook up like a sauna. Even once the cool breeze starts to blow in, it can take a day or so to get the inside of the home back to a comfortable level. In those cases, AC is a must just to overcome the thermal inefficiency of the home…. and just to get some sleep!

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  • I can relate to the poor insulation experience. When I lived in Portland some of those houses were built back in the 1900’s or even earlier and boy did it get cold in the wintertime even with the heater on it wasnt sufficient.

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