By Eric Reguly
Italians know how to conserve on air conditioning too. AC is becoming more common in Italy, but it is still relatively rare by North American standards. So how do Italians deal with the African-style heat that wallops the country for much of the summer? The answer: Window shutters.
Every window and exterior door in our apartment has slatted wooden shutters; pulleys are used to raise and lower them. We assumed they exist for security reasons, which is only partly true. Their other use is to keep the sun out. When the sun gets mean, the shutters go down. It works. We rarely used our air conditioner in the summer in spite of many days of mid-30s temperatures, though we capitulated in the high 30s (the temperature hit 42 one day in August). I can't say we were entirely comfortable. But nor did we face an electricity bill that would have eliminated our next holiday.