Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Today is definitely a warm one. I’m no so worried about myself (I know to drink water and can pour it on my head), but I do worry about my cat. She’s spending a LOT of time on the floor where I’m sure it’s cooler, but I don’t think I have central air. I have an outdoor unit, but I’m told it’s because I have a “high efficiency” heater. I don’t get how pulling cold air from the outside can make my furnace high efficiency, but there it is. As of the writing of this post, I am scheduled to have a company come out to look at my system tomorrow, so we’ll see.
Extreme temperatures and weather is becoming increasingly common. Right now, it’s 97 degrees here. Fahrenheit. I mean, if it was 97 Celsius, we would be on the verge of literally boiling. As it is, we’re only on the verge of figuratively boiling. I get the feeling I’ll need a new furnace, since this one was apparently installed a couple of decades ago.
There are tricks to staying cool if you don’t have air (and do have an apartment or house, as not everybody does). First, get light blocking blinds or curtains (I still need mine). Be sure that at least the liner is white to reflect light. The more light that is absorbed (or that enters the house), the more it will heat up the house.
Open the windows in the morning when it is cool, but I’m not sure how many people know to close them as the day heats up. Eventually, the house will be cooler than outside. At that time, close the windows to keep the heat out. And although it is technically incorrect to say that “heat rises” (since heat has no actual substance to it), hotter air is less dense than cooler, so yes, the upstairs will be warmer than downstairs. This is one reason that basements are often cooler than the rest of the house, so keep to the lower levels of the house.
Of course, hydrate. Drink a LOT of water, but also, remember your electrolytes. Electrolytes are basically salts which you lose when you sweat. Sports drinks basically are designed to replenish these electrolytes, but there are other sources as well. Salty foods like pickles, for example, is a great source of electrolytes. In fact, I think my electrolytes are running low at the moment because I’m starting to get a headache. Fortunately, I have pickles in the house (with red peppers in the jar with them for a little bit of spice) so once I finish writing this I’ll probably go and grab a pickle.
Remember that as the temperature increases that the demand on the electrical grid is also on the increase. I’m going to sign up for a heat mitigation program that will allow the electrical company to remotely turn off my air conditioner as my way of contributing to mitigation of this demand (and to get a few credits to save money on my electric bill) but keep this in mind. Set your thermometer a little higher than normal and dress down to save power (and to save money on your electric bill) and use a programmable thermostat so during times that you’re asleep anyway you can raise that temperature a little bit higher still (or shut the air off completely). We’re all in this together, so let’s act like it.
Remember that not everybody has air conditioning. If you know your neighbors don’t have central air, invite them over on hot days to share in yours. Have a little party of some kind to make it more fun, maybe a game night or dinner party. It’s a great way to do something nice for your neighbors, and to get to know them for a bit as well.
And, yes, there are also the homeless. They are people, too, and deserve our compassion and help. Can you imagine not having a regular place to shower as you so desire? Or a reliable source of water? How can you find a job if you cannot shower or shave for an interview? It’s a vicious cycle, and they have to contend with heat as well. I don’t have air conditioning now, but will likely get central air installed this summer (I’m fortunate to have the resources to do so), but they cannot stop the heat. Buy them bottles of water, or ask them what they need when you see them. Helping without judgment means a lot to them.