The first six months of 2012 have been the hottest on record. Having a fully functional and efficient air conditioner can help make those sweltering temperatures bearable.
“Air Conditioner Appreciation Days” run from July 3 to August 15, coinciding with the hottest part of the summer. Before you turn down the thermostat to a cool 60 degrees, make sure your unit is in good condition and consider some energy efficient alternatives to help beat the heat.
The best way to make sure your air conditioner will continue working throughout the summer is to perform regular scheduled maintenance. Kevin Holland, senior vice president of business operations and membership for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, recommends units be inspected at least twice a year by a reputable contractor. Regular inspections will keep the unit running longer and, if you schedule in the spring, allows the technician to fix any issue before the summer months bring the heat.
“During extreme heat waves you may have to wait quite a long time for service unless you have an existing business relationship with the contractor,” Holland says. “Contractors usually offer priority service to their service agreement customers.” Having an existing relationship with a contractor may also lead to discounts for continued patronage.
If your air conditioner is all tuned up, Holland suggests you keep your thermostat set at or around 75 degrees, ACCA’s recommended temperature for peak summer operation. Limiting cooking, dish and clothes washing, hot showers and strenuous physical activity can also reduce the heat in your house. Alternately, make sure your windows and doors are closed to keep cool air from escaping. Filling gaps where air could escape can also help lower your energy cost and help you remain comfortable.
MedicineNet.com, a part of the WebMD network, recommends wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing which can reduce your personal body heat. Unrestrictive fabrics allow you to move without creating much friction.
Eating cold foods like watermelon or popsicles can lower body temperature, but may cause a brain freeze. Staying hydrated also is key to staying cool. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, though, as it actually dehydrates you. No matter how good that Coca-Cola or iced coffee tastes on a hot day, water is always better.
Escape the house for an adventure at notoriously cold places like the library or a local museum or take a dip in a neighbor’s pool and forget the heat with your umbrella drink.