Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Air Conditioners II - The Design Element

TECHNOLOGY - Please check out our older air conditioning post too.

Air conditioning isn't something that Canadians often think about (certainly not in the winter), but it is certainly something we want during the May to September period of the year, whether its for our homes, apartments, work or inside a sweaty car. It still gets really hot here.

And with global warming its even hotter. Today is January 3rd 2012... and there is no snow in Toronto. Its the middle of winter and there is no snow. THAT is global warming for you. When you consider that 15 of the hottest years in recorded history have all been in the last 20 years you realize something is dreadfully wrong.

And air conditioning at least will keep us cool while the rest of the planet melts.

When it comes to air conditioners however there is a strong tendency of the lowest bidder approach. People buy a cheap air conditioner because its what they can afford. Buying an air conditioner which is quality made, looks beautiful, is designed well, will last a long time... well, people don't usually do that.

If you go to an Italian air conditioning website for example you might notice that their air conditioners are designed to look good in addition to functioning well. But it comes with a hefty price tag. Expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $3000 for a high end air conditioner.

The difference however is that it will come with a list of computerized options (which thanks Italian designers will be easy to understand and use) which lets you more accurately control the temperature, have built in timers, different settings for different times of day, automatic shut off, and so forth. A bit like programming the VCR back in the 1980s, but with the added benefit that your little sister won't mess up the settings just by changing the channel to watch cartoons.

Design features with respect to aesthetics is different... its a bit like buying a fancy car. Yes, when you buy a sports car you expect it to go fast, but you also want it to be comfortable and look REALLY good.

With an air conditioner you are looking for something that will match the decor of your home. A clunky white or grey air conditioner might look out of place in your floral pink decor and it will be tricky to find something which matches.

I am reminded of an essay written back in the 1900s about a man who bought a new evening gown... he bought the gown but soon realized it didn't match his sheets or his bed. So he bought a new bed and sheets. Then he redecorated his entire bedroom to match his new bed... then he realized the rest of his home didn't suit the bedroom, so he redecorated and bought all new things for his entire house. Eventually he ran out of money and didn't feel very happy anyway because his lavish house didn't feel a home any more. He couldn't have guests over for fear they might spill drinks on his new sofa. He felt like a stranger in his house.

So I guess my advice here is to know your limits. Yes, buy a good quality air conditioner. But don't let it control your life. In a world where you get what you pay for sometimes its necessary to spend a little more.

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