The Benefits of Air Conditioning
As the summer heats up, air conditioners will be cranking up to full blast in office buildings and homes to keep people cool. They provide welcome relief from sweltering weather and an obvious solution to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths.
Here's what you need to know about the health pros of air conditioners and how to use them safely:
Pro: Reducing heat stroke
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death," a problem that claims hundreds of lives in the U.S. each year. People who are most vulnerable to heat-related illness are children under the age of 4, adults over the age of 65, people who are overweight and those who are sick or on certain medications.
To help reduce the risk, doctors recommended drinking lots of water during the summer and staying in air conditioned areas during the hottest part of the day.
EL PASO, Texas - July 19 2016
Four deaths in our area have been attributed to heat-related illnesses, according to the Department of Public Health.
The victims, three males and a female, range in age from their mid-30s to their early 80s and lived in various parts of the city, officials said.
Three of the deaths were related to heat stroke. Heat exposure was a contributing factor in the fourth death, officials said.
"This is a heartbreaking scenario considering the fact that most heat-related deaths are preventable," Robert Resendes, Public Health Director, said in a news release. "We need our residents to be proactive in this weather and keep an eye out for those who are most vulnerable."
Health officials remind El Pasoans the most vulnerable include the elderly and children.
Evaporative Cooling Drawbacks
- If evaporative cooling is common ducted with your heating system, it utilizes dampers to control between heating and cooling. This becomes troublesome in the Spring and Fall when you may need heating in the early morning and cooling in the afternoon, or if you have very nice warm days, and all of a sudden a cold front comes through.
- Evaporative Coolers cannot be used anytime there is freezing temperatures outside. They must be shut down before it freezes in the fall, and started up after the last freeze in the spring. This can be tricky since you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Freezing can cause broken parts and water leaks.
- Since it utilizes water as the cooling medium (which is a corrosive), they can be finicky when pipes get clogged or dirty, or water levels aren’t adjusted properly. This affects their cooling efficiency.
- You must leave your windows, doors or some ventilation open in order for them to operate. This can create a safety issues, noise concerns or an indoor air quality problems in a heavy dust storm.
- Evaporative coolers can be hooked up to existing forced air duct systems. Because the air delivered by an evaporative system will be warmer than the air supplied by an air conditioner, however, evaporative coolers need to produce more air flow. That means the duct system may have to be larger to handle the volume of air and to effectively cool the house.
- Evaporative cooling requires water to keep pads wet – a consideration in some areas, especially in drought years. Water consumption can run from three to 15 gallons a day, depending on the size of the swamp cooler and whether or not the water is collected and pumped through the pads more than once. In some areas, discarded water from the unit can be an environmental concern.
- The cooling effect of an evaporative cooler is dependent on dry air. When the ambient humidity level increases, the cooling effect of an evaporative cooler decreases. The main drawback of swamp coolers is that they depend on dry outside air to operate effectively. On hot, muggy days in the summer, however, swamp coolers will blow hot, humid, soggy air into the house. If the humidity stays high for several days, the moist pads that make the evaporative cooler work can begin to smell, and the musty odor can be blown into the house. This becomes troublesome in the hot monsoon months of July and August. If it is raining outside-don’t count on having much cooling.