By Roz Rogoff
Heat WaveUploaded: May 3, 2014
The weathercasters say we are having a heat wave. At least that's what they predicted last week.
When I moved to San Ramon in 1997, I rented an apartment in the Cedar Point Apartments on Cedar Point Loop off Alcosta near the Dublin border. The rent was only $700 for a one bedroom apartment. The weather there was always mild. I even teased a friend who lived in Livermore about how hot it gets there.
San Ramon has microclimates. Cedar Point Apartments, which has been renamed The Seasons, is in one of the milder locations. My house on Mangos Drive is in one of the hotter locations. In fact my neighborhood gets as hot as Livermore. When the weathercaster gives the high and low temperatures, San Ramon is usually shown a few degrees lower than Livermore, but the high temperature at my house can be at least has high as Livermore's high.
Last week I bought two large outdoor thermometers. I put one on my fence to the north and the other on my back fence to the west. On Thursday afternoon the one on the north was 120 degrees and the one on the west was 100 degrees.
The temperatures here do go over 100, but usually not this early in the year. When I first moved into my house it didn't get this hot until July. It's too soon to tell if the weather is getting hotter earlier or this is just a fluke.
When I bought my house in 1998 it did not have central heat or any air conditioning. It had those old wall furnaces ? one in the hall near the bedrooms and one near the kitchen. The first Improvement I made was to add ducts and a gas furnace in the attic and a whole house air conditioner outside.
The company that put them in, ITES, used to be in Pleasanton but moved somewhere near Sacramento. They also installed dual pane windows throughout the house, all for under $10K. I added heat filtering screens on my back windows and a retractable awning over my patio last year.
From May through October I try to use as little electricity in the afternoons as possible. I had solar panels put on my roof in 2009, so my electricity is on a time-of-day billing. From 1 pm to 7 pm the rates per kwh are tripled. I try not to use any electricity during peak hours, so the energy from my panels goes back to PG&E for a credit.
I did not use the air conditioner during the "heat wave." Instead I open the back windows and front windows and patio door with the screen door closed, and let nature's air conditioning flows through the house.
My house on Mangos Drive and others along South San Ramon Creek were built in the 1970's and are designed for cross-ventilation. That was the original air conditioning back before air conditioners were invented and perfected. There's almost always a nice afternoon breeze flowing through the house to keep it cool.
I use the air conditioner at night; so I don't leave the windows open. I have a security system so I don't want to leave the windows open. While San Ramon is mostly safe, I've heard about some recent break-ins not far from me. So I leave my alarm system armed and the windows closed at night.