Cold Apartment – The Air Conditioner Conflict

The saga continues….

Last fall, that is, in 2008, the Watertown Housing Authority installed new windows at 55 Waverley Avenue in Watertown, where I live.  This was supposedly to make the apartments more airtight, and cut down on heating costs.  I thought this was great!  A warmer apartment was always welcome.

My enthusiasm died down when winter hit.  You can read about my adventures in past posts here, about my struggles with the Housing Authority to stay warm all last winter.  The good thing was that I did get a doctor’s note and got my thermostat allowance raised from 75 (which is really 73) degrees to 78 (76 really).  You’d think that this would be roasting, but I am above the garage, and it is really chilly on the floor in here with no insulation between the garage and my apartment.  The bathroom floor is like ice, for instance.  I liken sitting on the toilet seat to sitting naked on a park bench in winter.

The Housing Authority gave out a notice that they were going to install permanent air conditioner panels.  This was in May.  We were supposed to tell them if we wanted our air conditioners installed with the panels.  I put my name on the list.  What I got instead was a temporary, summer mounting that was not suitable for winter use.  Air leaks under, over, and around the air conditioner where it has been installed.  There is a one-inch gap under the air conditioner where air comes through.  I was told that the Housing Authority would take the air conditioner out in the fall.

You got it: they never came.  I waited and waited.  I called–I think I recorded the conversation here in a previous entry–and was told they would take them out.  And I waited.

Then yesterday came.  Last night, it got down to 7 degrees.  Seven.  My apartment was freezing when I got up.  The heat was blasting, but couldn’t keep up with the leaks.  In the apartment it was 70 degrees.  It may sound warm enough to you, but to me it was way, way too cold.   If you read my blog last year, you may recall it once was 46.5 degrees in my bathroom when it was 73 degrees in the main part of the apartment.

Today, I called maintenance and asked them when they were going to take the air conditioners out of the windows.  The woman at maintenance, Debbie, told me they were planning to leave them in all winter.

Now, what’s the point of new windows if you’re going to leave air conditioners in them all winter????  What kind of logic is that????

The Housing Authority maintenance people told me last spring that they installed about 50 air conditioners.  That’s 50 people whose air conditioners are still in their windows, 50 leaky windows, 50 cold tenants.

If the Housing Authority cares so much about saving money that they ration our heat and insist on keeping it at 75 degrees and not only that but keep it at a “two degree offset” so it’s actually at 73, why the heck are they leaving air conditioners in the windows????

If the Housing Authority cares so much about saving money that they spend a zillion dollars on replacing ALL our windows in the fall of 2008, why are they wasting these beautiful new windows by leaving air conditioners in them????

I called the Watertown Board of Health to complain.  They called Brian Costello, head of maintenance over here, who told them it was a “liability issue” and that tenants could take them out themselves or hire someone if they wanted.  Fine.  I will.

The point is that all these tenants are waiting for the Housing Authority to do something.  They don’t have the means to take the air conditioners out, or they don’t understand that the installations are temporary.  The Housing Authority needs to provide the means for the tenants to take the air conditioners out, or take them out for them, or suggest services that tenants can hire to take them out.  These air conditioners should not be in the windows all winter long.  It simply makes no sense.

My plan is to call the local newspaper tomorrow and see if they’ll do a story on this.  What the Housing Authority is doing is a crime.  What the Housing Authority is doing is wasteful.  What the Housing Authority is doing is illogical, nonsensical, unthinkable, and inhumane.  Maybe tomorrow, a few people in important places will find out about all this.

Feedback and comments welcome!