If your compost pile steams on cold mornings, then you’re on the right track. The warmer your compost is, the better it’s breaking down the organic components in it, sterilizing any weed seeds and fungal spores, and keeping small pests away.
However, the decomposition process needs plenty of air to function. Some air enters the pile from the surface, but not nearly enough to do the job right; that’s why you need to turn the pile regularly in order to keep it perking along.
You can aerate your compost a lot more easily if you’ll just put a little thought into it right from the beginning. Here’s one way to do it: start out with a bed of crossed, branched sticks, so that air can rise into the pile from below. Then erect a well-perforated PVC plastic pipe in the middle before building the pile around it. This will allow for efficient air flow throughout the pile, from the inside out. Lengths of PVC pipe of various thicknesses can be purchased inexpensively at any hardware store, and you can use a drill to perforate it with ease.
Some fluffing or pitchforking may still be necessary if you build your compost pile this way, but you won’t have to work nearly as hard as you would if you just tossed everything helter-skelter into one big pile to start with.