Friday, June 24, 2005

Question for a hot day

I live in a pre-war apartment building in NYC. It was built before people merrily moved into shoddy pre-fab houses with AC in inhospitable places like Phoenix and Atantla. The building is well-constructed, decently maintained.

So why does it retain the heat in a way that none of the apartment buildings I lived in in Paris did? These weren't really posh buildings; they tended to be Hausmannian era, but more slummy than grand-style. Why does my current old-fashioned building warm up faster and retain the heat longer?

Since I don't know anything about difference in floors and walls between these buildings I'm comparing, I'm fixated on the windows.

--Almost all Parisian buildings have tall windows with two tall windowpanes that swing inward; you can, and most people in summer do, open the entire window. This NYC building, like every single one on the block, has horizontally aligned panes, so that when you open the window, you're actually just sliding one pane under another to create a sad little square of a vent. Some of the nicer brownstones in NYC have tall windows, but most buildings have my kind of window. And most people replace one of those panes with an AC unit.

--Almost every damn building in Paris has shutters for its windows; almost none in NYC does. Shutters are not just decorative, for God's sake! This is very simple: when it is hot out, you close the shutters and open the windows first thing in the morning. Then the light doesn't get in to turn your apartment into an inferno. Maybe in the late afternoon you can open the shutters to enjoy the humid NYC evening summer air. WHERE ARE MY SHUTTERS?

This is an old building, constructed back when people knew a thing or two about living through seasonal weather without electricity-based comforts. This building wasn't a slumhouse back then. Did the building have shutters that the owner decided to take down (thus transfering cooling costs to the tenants)? Did the architect decide to leave elegant solutions to heat-management back in the Old Country?


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10/26/2005 10:00:00 PM  
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Anonymous Shaun Polanski:

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12/12/2005 02:07:00 PM  

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