Why Air Conditioning Is A Basic Necessity

Air conditioning has never been considered as necessary as heating; building codes generally insist on the latter but not the former. In fact, there are lots of environmentalists and others who distain AC; as Daniel Engber wrote in Slate:

A certain class of Americans — let’s call them the brrr-geoisie — has come to see the air conditioner as a stand-in for everything that’s wrong with the country and the world.

And inevitably, as the climate warms and the population ages, there will be more heat waves and more people dying. Salvatore Cardoni writes in TakePart:

“The heat is not just an inconvenience, it kills — some of the most heat-vulnerable people are 65 and older,” says Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The numbers of these seniors in the U.S. are increasing at the fastest pace in a century. There are now 40 million seniors in the U.S. — that’s going to be 72 million by 2030.”

Some elderly people have had to make the choice between food or energy. That dire fact led to a program designed to help them: the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP, which was created in 1980. The program has been heavily biased toward heating rather than cooling, probably because as Daniel Engber of Slate put it, “If you’re poor and shivering, help is on the way. If you’re poor and sweaty, you’ll have to suck it up.” But as it gets hotter and more people live in hotter parts of the country, this will have to change.

Or more likely, neither will get help, because under the budget proposal put forward by President Donald Trump, LIHEAP will be eliminated. The budget document explains that, “compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes.” Arthur Delaney of Huffington Post calls it “Trump’s coldest cut”:

About 6 million households are expected to get heating or cooling assistance from LIHEAP this year at a cost of $3.3 billion, or 0.2 percent of discretionary spending. The program also helps people weatherize their homes, and it provides a pot of money specifically for crises, such as a broken heater in winter or an imminent utility shutoff.

Those in Congress who would kill LIHEAP think the federal government spends too much on anti-poverty problems that should be dealt with at the state level. One Republican think-tanker noted that “each of these programs is treated by the left as a beachhead, so if we’re subsidizing energy costs, then it must go on forever.”

But many living in poverty are old. Many Americans do not like so-called entitlements and would happily kill off food stamps and cut welfare and health insurance for the poor. But politicians still pay lip service to helping seniors, the elderly and keeping Medicare, social security and drug plans; these are the people who voted them in. Heating and yes, in many parts of the country, cooling, are necessary to live. Killing LIHEAP may well kill some of their constituents and will certainly anger many more.

Beware of Surge Pricing on Your TECO Bill

Most of us tend to use more electricity in the summer months when it’s hot and we need our air conditioners on full blast. It pays to understand how your electric company charges you, though. Many of them charge more per kilowatt depending on how and when you use electricity.

Arizona’s power company, Arizona Public Service, recently made headlines for their surge pricing, but they’re not alone. Many electric companies charge more during peak hours. Part of APS’ demand pricing is based on the customer’s highest one hour of energy used during on-peak hours, which has a lot of customers upset. Other utility providers use different methods. In Los Angeles, for example, you’re charged a higher rate per kilowatt once you reach a certain usage threshold. They call this tiered pricing.

We’ve touched on this before, and there are a few solutions to combat this kind of pricing. You could run your appliances at night, during cheaper, off-peak hours, for instance. Of course, it’s also best to make sure your home is as energy-efficient as possible.

Overall, though, it helps to simply be aware of your electric company’s pricing model, depending on where you live. The difference in pricing during peak hours might be pennies, but when we’re talking kilowatts, those pennies add up. For more detail, head to the link below.

How To Keep Cool in Florida Without Air Conditioning

Whether you just don’t have air conditioning, don’t want to fire it up just yet, or want to save money on energy, there are lots of ways to keep cool as the mercury rises. Here are some good ones.

10. Drink Lots of Water

No one likes sitting around being hot and sweaty and gross, and the first step to mitigating that is simple: Keep your body temperature down. And the most effective way to do that is to stuff your body full of cooling foods and fluids—way more effective than applying cold things to your exterior (which we’ll get to later.) We’ve talked about how much water you should really drink, and busted some hydration myths, so feel comfortable drinking as much as you need to keep the heat at bay.

The CDC says you should think of your body as an air conditioner—so keep your water bottles topped off with chilled water. If you don’t think you have time—or don’t love the taste of water—there are plenty of ways to trick yourself into drinking more.

9. Mix Up Your Frozen Treats

Water isn’t the only cold thing you can stuff in your maw when things get a little too toasty. Crush some ice and make yourself a tasty slushie—they’re actually proven to boost your endurance on those super hot days, especially if you need to exercise, or think you might need to go outdoors.

If you’re trying to get a little protein in your diet, try these protein-packed popsicle recipes to cool off and get the nutrition you need to hit your fitness goals. Either way, don’t limit yourself to just ice water, it gets boring—mix it up and try other delicious, icy, chilled treats that’ll also help you stay cool. Just try to stick to the treats that are more ice than cream, if you know what I mean.

8. Build a Fan Fortress

Fans don’t so much “cool” the air as they keep air moving around, which, as it moves over your skin and helps your sweat evaporate, makes you feel cooler than you would be if the air were still. Now that you know that, set up your fans in windows or hallways so you get an awesome cross breeze, drawing in cooler air from one part of your home (or outside) and pushing the warm air elsewhere. Think of your house or your room as a PC with a hot processor in it that needs airflow, and set up your fans accordingly.

If you have ceiling fans, make sure to set them up to optimal cooling, and if you’re really enterprising, you can build your own temperature controller to toggle the fans on and off automatically depending on the temperature in your home.

7. Roll a DIY Air Conditioner (One that Actually Works)

If you don’t have an AC or can’t have one (you live in a dorm, or you’re renting a room, for example), you can roll your own air conditioner to keep things cool. You just need to know which ones actually work, because they aren’t all effective, and you need to set your expectations accordingly.

If you’re thinking you can throw together a DIY air conditioner like one of these, and suddenly make your whole room cooler, you’ll be disappointed. You can, however, make yourself cooler if you sit next to it for a while after it’s been running.

6. Make Smart Use of Your Fridge or Freezer

Your next biggest ally in the fight against heat is probably quietly running in your kitchen: your fridge and freezer. We’re not saying you should open it up and try to keep cool in front of it (that’s actually a terrible idea), but you should put it to good use while it’s running. For example, make a little room inside for a couple of wet washcloths, or maybe a top sheet or fitted sheet. Your body will thank you when it’s time to get into bed at night. Stick with light, breathable linens as well—summer heat is not the time to try and snuggle under a heavy fleece blanket.

Similarly, you could try the old “Egyptian Method,” which we’ve mentioned before. It works like this:

This old technique calls back to legends of how ancient Egyptians used to stay cool on hot nights. Simply soak a sheet or blanket large enough to cover you in cold water, then wring it dry so it’s damp and cool, but not dripping wet. Then just use it as a blanket. As the water evaporates, you get the benefit of staying cool but not wet.

There are a few more common variations on this theme, like the cold washcloth or ice pack on your head or wrists while you sleep, or going to bed with cool, damp (but again, not wet) socks on to keep your feet cool and you comfortable enough to fall asleep.

Whatever you do, make sure to get your fridge or freezer involved. They can help you—and your stuff—stay cool.

5. Invest in a Whole House Fan

If you have the between $200 and $1200 necessary for a whole house fan, you could probably pick up an air conditioner—even a portable one—for the same amount. However, where the whole house fan wins is in ongoing energy costs. They’re much cheaper to operate than AC units, and of course, if you don’t live in a climate where you’d need an AC all the time, it might be a good option for those few weeks or months when it gets unbearably hot.

They have their pros and cons though. They can be really efficient and affordable to operate, and they’re even easy to install, but they obviously don’t dehumidify, and they can’t cool your home inside any lower than the temperature outdoors. They also move a lot of air and dust around your home, so they can make allergies worse, which is worth keeping in mind.

4. Keep the Sun Out, but Let the Heat Out Too

One of the best ways to make sure your home stays cool in the summer is to keep the sun out, and then when the temperature does rise, give the hot air somewhere to go. We mentioned that you should make sure your fans are set up for optimal cooling, but you should also consider some heat blocking curtains, whether they look natural, they’re the super futuristic type, or just something nice and heavy you keep closed when the sun comes up and the temperatures outside rise.

Then, once the temps have peaked and it starts to get a little cooler outside, open those curtains and let the warm air out. It wants somewhere to go—preferably somewhere there’s a higher volume of cool air, and you get to benefit from thermodynamics in action. Cool air comes in, warm air goes out, and everybody’s happy. Just make sure to close those curtains again before it warms up again.

3. Get a Cooling Pillow or Sheet Set

If you do have a little money to spend, a pillow or sheet set that’s designed to keep you cool can be a huge help when it’s hot outside (and inside.) We’ve covered a few, including the $25 Chillow, the $100 PolarPillow (that Gizmodo liked, but not at the price), and the previously mentioned $150 Technogel Pillow. We’ve also highlighted the $79 HIBR Pillow, which I still love and use today.

In the sheet department, you can check out the $200 Sheex “performance” bedsheets, which also promise to keep you nice and cool while you sleep. Gizmodo reviewed them here. Whatever you choose though, you have options to stay nice and cool, especially in bed, even when it’s hot both inside and out.

2. Learn Your Body’s Cooling Spots

Whether you’re buying specialty sheets and pillows, or just tossing your own washcloths into the freezer, it’ll help you to know your body’s best cooling spots—draping a cool washcloth over your neck or wrists will help bring your body temperature down faster than trying to lay one over your forehead, even if it feels good to do so. This way you can target those cold compresses, damp towels, or ice packs so they’re as effective as possible.

1. Get Damp (and Naked)

Speaking of compresses and ice packs, never underestimate the power of getting naked, and getting just slightly damp. Combine a little naked dampness with a fan or a DIY air conditioner that you’re sitting next to, and you have a recipe for a relaxing retreat.

The key here is, of course, to make sure that it’s not too humid, or else you won’t get that lovely evaporative effect as you dry off under a fan, or as that damp towel on your head slowly dries. A quick cold shower and an afternoon with the curtains drawn and the fans in the house going—and maybe a few glasses of cold water and some slushies—and there’s no doubt you’ll be able to maintain your chill.

The Best Invention to Ever Come Out of Florida is No Shocker

America was founded on the principle of fresh ideas, so it’s no surprise that many of the world’s most important innovations and inventions of the last few hundred years were born here. But what exactly does Florida have to offer in the annals of invention?

Air conditioning…

While the large-scale electrical air conditioning that enabled the great migration to the Sun Belt didn’t take off until the early 20th Century, it was the “cooling system” developed by Apalachicola scientist John Gorrie that paved the way. His unique and somewhat primitive system of blowing air against ice cold cloths was even used as a treatment for a dying President Garfield in 1881.

Stay Cool at the Beach with the IcyBreeze Blizzard Cooler

Check this baby out! The IcyBreeze is a clever little gadget which integrates a food and drink cooler with a portable air con device. Beach day? Relax on the beach with your favorite beverage nice and chilled, while the unit also fires you with chilled air keeping you cool.

Made in the USA the IcyBreeze fires cold air at speeds up to 25mph. The 12 volt rechargeable battery lasts up to 7 hours on the lowest fan speed but it also has the options of a wall power supply and car power supply. With its ergonomic handle and mutliple lift points it makes transporting this awesome gadget with you super easy!

Constructed from a quality, durable plastic, with large wheels so you can roll over pretty much anything the portable drinks cooler and air con unit by IcyBreeze can be used for pretty much anything, camping, boating trips, sports, beach days, or even sun bathing in the garden!

Never break a sweat again and no more warm beer!