Dog Days of summer ahead for St. Louis hard-working air conditioners

The St. Louis heat index is the problem!

Whew! Are you fanning yourself as much as I am these days? I know it’s not just me, as my dog Bear has strategically placed her furry, panting body on top of the air conditioning register. Smart girl! Yes, it has been unusually warm and humid – as well as wet — for this time of year. I checked with the Farmer’s Almanac summer forecast and they say 2010 will be a hot, sticky summer with an exceptionally high heat index.

I suppose that’s good news if you run an ice cream stand, a pool service, or own utilities stocks. But for most St. Louis homeowners, it simply sounds uncomfortable and expensive. Assuming your air conditioning system is running well – albeit hard – this summer, here are a few things you can do at home to stay cooler and help your air conditioner performance:

  • close blinds, shades and curtains during the day to reduce the direct sunlight, and heat, coming in the windows
  • circulate air with the use of register vent fans, personal fans and ceiling fans
  • keep air conditioning filters clean
  • cook using the microwave and outside grill
  • use a programmable thermostat to raise temperatures when you are not home
  • keep furniture (and pets!) from blocking air registers to keep the house as cool as possible

There’s something you can do outside, too. Check your exterior air conditioning unit to make sure it is operating at top efficiency. You may need to trim overhanging shrubs to keep the unit from overheating. Make sure there is at least 4” of space between your air conditioner and the greenery around it. You may also want to use your garden hose to rinse the unit off, spraying any seeds, grass clippings or dirt from the fan.

What else can you do? Drink lots of water, eat light meals, avoid alcohol, wear light, loose clothing… and be a good neighbor. Check in on any pets, older adults and neighbors you may know who live alone. They are especially at risk during these “dog days of summer.”

-LEW (and Bear) of the Ricotta Blog Team

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