Indian Summers and the Hot and Cold Shuffle
Apparently, experts are predicting that we’ll all experience an Indian Summer this year. Now, these are the same experts that can barely predict same-day rain chances accurately, so who knows what will happen. Maybe it will get and stay cold tomorrow. Maybe we’ll skip winter altogether this year. Maybe the hemispheres will switch and we’ll have a year of summer. I think lesson we can all learn from Al Roker is that there is no way to predict the weather with any more accuracy than we can predict the winners at this year’s Emmys (unless you watch TV, and then you knew that Breaking Bad would make a clean sweep).
And who would want to? Just like the unpredictability of which celebrity will present an award to another celebrity lends some excitement to what would otherwise be a normal Monday night on the couch, unpredictable weather leaves you wondering how uneventful your day might have been if you had known to bring an umbrella to your job interview or that the sunshine would quickly turn to thunderstorms and add some danger to your day at the beach.
Anyway, the point is that an Indian Summer may be in our future. It’s more likely to be in our future this year than previous, ordinary years. And between the Super Moon, the Polar Vortex, and the Indian Summer, it’s getting pretty wacky around here. Tides are getting totally unpredictable. Weather is getting even more unpredictable. Do you need your AC on? Or the furnace? Or both? (Just kidding. Both is never the answer. And there’s your helpful HVAC tip of the day).
So, back to this Indian Summer. According to the National Weather Forecast, an Indian Summer is “any spell of warm, quiet, hazy weather that may occur in October or even early November.”
What does this have to do with Indians?
That’s questionable. No one knows for sure. The origins are as hazy as an Indian Summer (see what I did there?). Theories include:
- This addition to the warm season let Native Americans finish their harvesting and set them up well for the winter season, food-wise.
- This was the prime hunting season (still is, in fact) and the warm, hazy conditions made it easier for Native Americans to hunt. Again, to prepare them for the winter, food-wise. Several theories involve food, because believe it or not, people actually used to have to grow their own if they wanted to not starve to death.
- Some theories include somewhat elaborate stories about gods in the southwest sending warm wind. Or that since it’s a “trick” summer, early English settler’s equated it to a fool’s summer, and therefore named it after the Native Americans. What’s an idiom of unknown origin without a good dose of racism and religious confusion?
- It’s also possible that the original name came from the idea that during the early days of settlement by the English, Native Americans would use the warm and hazy conditions to their advantage and attack the British. Another great option.
- The outlying theory appears to be that the term Indian refers to the ocean, not an ethnic group. Ships sailing across the Indian Ocean would do a lot of their loading during the time known as “Indian Summer.” There is actually some proof of this. But not enough to rule out the other options.
One thing that is pretty agreed-upon about Indian Summers is that they occur in the Great Lakes region (among others). So it’s reasonable that this year we may experience one. And what does this mean for your HVAC needs?
Summer might be longer than usual. If you have central air, you should definitely have your unit serviced to make sure it works efficiently.
Many people believe that it’s only a true Indian Summer if a “killing frost” sets in before it gets unseasonably warm again. Don’t worry, the frost won’t kill you (but it might bite). It will kill the crops. Unless you’re prepared for it. So if you have crops, prepare for the killing frost.
There will likely be a period of time when you feel as though you want to have the AC on during the day but the heat running in the evening. This is a tricky conundrum, and seems like a big waste of energy. Unless you have a geothermal system, in which case you’re really not wasting much energy at all. Otherwise, your options are to learn how to deal with one or the other – leave the furnace on and the AC off and deal with the heat during the day, or leave the AC on and the furnace off and deal with the cold at night. A real conundrum. Good luck.
All this talk about Indian Summers leaves us wondering – if a period of unseasonable warmth is called an Indian Summer, what would you call a period of unseasonable cold? Because, if you remember the season formerly known as “spring,” you probably remember the terribly rocky start we had to summer this year. So perhaps the Indian Summer is Mother Nature’s way of paying us back for the springtime cold-spell.