The First Day of Spring at our House

The start of our annual fight against the sun.

On Twitter, lots of folks are talking about the fact that today is the first day of spring. That day has special meaning in our Arizona household. It’s the start of “blinds closed” season.

Upstairs
One of two upstairs rooms in our house. I took this shot with a fisheye lens, so things are a bit distorted, but it shows the three big windows.

Our house sits diagonally on its lot. The front faces northeast; the back faces southwest. The second floor has two 4 foot by 8 foot windows facing front — northeast — and one similarly sized window facing the side — southeast. In the winter, sun coming through that side window most of the day helps keep our house warm. The windows work together to keep the house bright — that second floor room is open to the downstairs.

I like living in a bright place with big windows. It makes me feel good — healthy and alive, part of nature even while indoors.

Anyway, what we’ve found is that when mid-March rolls along, the sun starts to angle into those two big, front windows for the entire morning. While that’s quite nice when daytime temperatures outside are in the 60s and 70s, it’s not very nice when those temperatures reach toward triple digits. The sun warms the upstairs when we’re trying to keep it cool. The solution: lower the blinds to shut out the sun.

Downstairs
The upstairs room is open to downstairs, so the big windows let in a lot of light

Blinds and curtains in our house are an afterthought. We don’t have any neighbors close enough to look in, so there’s no real need for privacy. My office and the guest room have blinds because they both get overnight guests once in a while — I’ve found that most guests just keep the blinds closed all the time they’re with us. (I can’t figure that out. Why would someone choose to live in darkness in such a bright, sunny place?)

The two upstairs rooms have blinds or curtains strictly to block out the sun half the year. And we need them. If we didn’t have them and use them, the air conditioning simply would not be able to keep up with the power of that bright sun shining in those big windows in spring and summer. So we begin lowering the blinds in that room on the first day of spring.

At first, we lower them just in the morning and raise them after noon. But later, as the sun creeps northward and spends more time shining in, we keep them closed all day. You see, as the sun shines on the house, it also heats up the double-pane glass, which then radiates heat into the house. The blinds offer another layer of protection.

The first day of spring is a kind of sad day for me. It means the end of the bright mornings in my house and the prelude to what I’ve begun calling hell season. You might know it as summer.

What do you think?