Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Air Conditioning

Yesterday I was sitting in my office writing about how I’m not particularly fond of Air Conditioning.  I like the windows open and the smell of the cut grass!  As I sat here, the breeze was blowing in the windows, and my husband was out mowing.  It was lovely, except...

I couldn’t stop sneezing!  I confess, it occurred to me: if the windows were all closed and I had AC, I probably wouldn’t be suffering from allergies as badly.  Because of all the sneezing, and the itchy, watery eyes, this is my second week without mascara (I know!).  And they say it’s going to be a long allergy season, since our winter was so mild.  And the weatherman says it’s going to be HOT too!  Perhaps I should have given the whole house AC a little more thought...

Seriously, besides keeping us cool, and me grumbling about my allergies, there are some definite health benefits to Air Conditioning.  In hot climates, or on scorching hot summer days here in Central NY, we’ve all worried about our elderly or very young family members and neighbors during heat waves.  Excessive heat can cause fatigue and dehydration, which are both dangerous.  It goes without saying that an air conditioning system can reduce symptoms of fatigue as well as the risk of dehydration.  A CLEAN air conditioning system can help with external allergens (ie. pollen!) and can help with your overall air quality too.

Also, let’s not forget the importance of a good night’s sleep.  I feel for my kids when it’s really hot.  They have to sleep with covers on them at night (it’s a known fact that bad guys can’t get you if your under covers).  Of course that gets hot, and sleeping is a lot easier when you’re cool.

Air conditioning systems are expensive, and often need repairs - so depending on the systems your builder offers, it’s a good idea to check out Consumer Reports for the most reliable brands.  If you do end up putting in an air conditioning system, there are ways to reduce your monthly bills and to keep your house cooler in general:

  • Keep blinds and shades closed in the windows that get the most sun.  This really, really keeps the temperature down in your house.

  • Use a ceiling fan to circulate the cool air around you.  This way you can turn your AC thermostat up a few degrees, and still feel just as cool.

  • The new Energy Star light bulbs produce less heat, so there’s less hot air to cool down, thus reducing your cost.

  • AC units have programmable timers so that you can set cooling times around your schedule.  Just set the AC to come on about an hour before you get home, rather than cooling an empty house.

  • Cook on your grill.  And if you get sick of grilled food like I do by the end of summer, can you plug-in your crock pot outside?  Do anything but use the oven, which adds tons of heat to your house!

  • Make sure the AC filter is clean.  Periodically have a professional check your duct work , vents and registers for leaks.

If budget is an issue, ceiling fans can be effective, as are window AC units.  And there’s always the stand-by of placing the underside of your wrists under cold running water for a few minutes.  That’s what we are doing, at least for this summer.