I'll be the very first to admit I am heat intolerant. If temps rise above 75, I sweat, I swell, and sometimes, I even swear. I'm actually counting the days till woolly socks weather. We in Central Ohio have a respite today from the 90+ sweltering heat. It's currently a pleasant, although still hot in my book, 84 degrees. We were chatting at the manor this week about the oppressive heat and humidity in the Midwest and wondered how we ever managed back in our childhood days without air conditioning. But, you know, I don't remember feeling uncomfortably hot, because we were used to it. It was part of life.
In fact, our air conditioned generation has programmed itself to be completely intolerant of summer heat. (Especially me.) Our dear forefathers lived, farmed, fought wars, and fared well in this same heat. In old photos they all seem to be sporting hats and wool jackets in July. Back in the good old summer days, our neighborhoods were chock full of folks out on their front porches. We kids played ball in the street till dark. Now the 'hoods are literal ghost towns in the summer, everyone sealed up inside, with only the drone of the air conditioning units.
Not only has the increased use of air conditioning made us intolerant of the heat, and less sociable, it's contributed to a term known as "nature deficit disorder", the alleged trend that children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety and the long term ability to cope with stress and adversity. I was always big on chasing my kids out of the house, encouraging them to dig a hole, climb a tree, or just lie in the grass and look at the sky. Turns out, I was doing them a big favor.
Last, but not least, what about the massive consumption of power used to keep us cool and comfy in the summer. It's a strain on the power supply world wide. So, what's the answer? I, for one, am certainly not going to be first in line to volunteer to turn off my air. But, I did find a few practical summer tips from the Alliance to Save Energy:
- A well-maintained cooling system will run more efficiently, use less energy, and lower energy bills.
- Reduce the cooling load by effectively shading east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-producing activities such as dish washing until the evening. Close curtains during the day.
- During the cooling season, keep your house closed tight in the daytime to keep unwanted heat and humidity out. If practical, ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.
- Avoid running a dehumidifier at the same time as the AC. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.
- Turn off your computer and monitor when you are done using them; activate the “sleep” feature so the machine powers down when on but not in use for a while.
- Shift energy-intensive tasks such as laundry and dish washing to off-peak energy demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves; do full loads when you run washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
- Switch to cold water washing of laundry in top-loading, energy-inefficient washing machines to save energy and up to $63 a year—detergents formulated for cold water get clothes just as clean; clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load.
- Keep lamps or TVs away from the air conditioner thermostat. The heat they generate will cause your air conditioner to run longer, running up bills unnecessarily.
By the way, did you know that the Romans referred to the "Dog Days" of summer as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius? They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog).
The old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11.
So, keep cool in these doggy days, my friends. And don't forget to take your kids and grand kids to the park for a picnic. Let them hug a tree or two. As Martha would say, it's a good thing.
photo from google images