Monday, July 9, 2012

Relief from the heat

I recently wrote about Hoosiers demanding higher temperatures during our recent triple digit heatwave. In that piece I described some of the causes and actions, often with unintentional consequences, that raise the ambient temperature. After receiving some feedback and questions I now condense much of what I have already told my Life-Coaching Services clients about relief from the heat. Through these recommendations on relief from the heat I seek to clarify the methods by which you can obtain relief.

The acute human contribution to elevated temperatures during high heat periods is known as the Heat Island Effect which can raise the ambient temperature in urban settings from 2-10 degrees Fahrenheit. This results in urban dwellers doing even more to seek relief from the heat and thereby compounding the problem. The primary method by which people seek relief is through air-conditioning which perpetuates greater discomfort and heat production. It was estimated that 80% of American households had air-conditioning by the year 2000. It is further predicted that saturation will exist by the year 2050. Except for my home. I refuse to use air-conditioning as my basis for maintaining optimal health, relief from the heat and enjoyment of life. Additionally there is a very small portion of the population that seeks to optimize their well-being and will also not facilitate the use of air-conditioning and its' detrimental effects.

Although I may only be an anecdotal study much of the experimentation that I have undertaken upon myself has later been confirmed through empirical study. While air-conditioning may provide temporary, life-saving relief for some at-risk individuals, particularly the elderly, the overall effect is still a net negative. That is, air conditioning does more harm than good.

Before I list the strategies for relief I take a moment to remind you that where you are in life is where you have put yourself -- through conscious decisions -- thus rendering you where you want to be. Each of these are very simple methods that require only the will and decision to follow them. Though many excuses may be offered as to why these options are not viable they are nothing but the result of denial -- a coping mechanism used to avoid taking responsibility for personal failures.

I do provide detailed analysis as to how the decisions clients make have led to the reduction of choices in their lives resulting in what many call obligations. So I now delineate some simple strategies for relief from the heat that require only the decision to adopt them as your lifestyle.

1) Maintain a reasonable weight. If you are a male with greater than 5% body fat or a female with greater than 12% body fat then you are excessively large. Trying to attain the stature of an elephant is not an efficient cooling method. Elephants cool themselves through the flapping of their ears which are flush with blood veins. That action is similar to the way air flows across the radiator in your car. But in humans that elephant sized added bulk requires more effort by the heart and muscles to ove which both produce heat in the body.

2) Relocate to a more temperate climate. The reason that I have no sympathy for the elderly is that they have been adults the longest with the ability to choose to live in a more temperate climate. Chicago being hot in the Summer is not a 21st century phenomenon. Pack your bags and move -- try Vancouver.

3) Relocate to cooler housing. I have already told you about the Heat Island Effect. Even in downtown Lebanon, Indiana where I live the Heat Island Effect can be felt. Although I prefer temperatures in excess of 90F most people do not but have done little to cool their homes naturally. While residing in the same region you can still live in naturally cooled housing. Subterranean dwellings require no artificial cooling and use less energy to heat. This includes partially buried houses that still have windows on the main floor. Locating amongst heavy foliage also has a cooling effect. Generally, the taller the better. Trees provide not only shade but also cooling ground water dispersed into the air. The idiom cool as a cucumber has a scientific basis. During warm periods the core temperature of a cucumber is around 20F cool than the ambient temperature.
Also, don't live near dry cleaning facilities, fast food restaurants, manufacturers or large parking lots. These all raise the ambient temperature.

4) Line dry clothing. This one is so obvious that I nearly neglected to mention it. Clothes driers are the most wasteful of household appliances. Not only is free heated air readily available outside but a clothes drier produces heat in your home. Then there is the ancillary heat production either from the coal fired electric plant or the gas exhaust pouring out of the pipe in your roof.

5) Stop mowing your lawn. Think this only applies to machine powered mowers, think again. This dual purpose recommendation has the obvious reason of not producing heat from a combustible engine but also not keeping foliage trimmed to the ground. As previously noted herein taller foliage provides a cooler atmosphere.

6) Finally, stop using air conditioning. The list of reasons here is exhaustive but I will stick with the major ones. First, air conditioning deprives the body of its natural ability to acclimate to the seasonal change in temperatures and thus be comfortable on warm days. Thus, exposure to heat becomes more shocking and potentially uncomfortable. Some non heat related effects are greater susceptibility to illness, increased blood pressure, respiratory aggravation, dry skin, aggravation of arthritic conditions and dehydration.
Dehydration is a particular concern for the elderly and infants. If you have ever exhaled onto a cold window and fogged it up then you have observed the amount of moisture in your breath. That is moisture that must be replaced as it dissipates into the low humidity atmosphere.
The direct heat production from air conditioning is the cooling of the condenser. This will be a free standing unit for central air or the part to the outside for window units. You can readily feel the net heat production from either of these that are surrounding your home with heat as you attempt to cool it. Notice any contradiction?

Most of what I have recommended here originated through advice on expanding control over one's life and finances. All of these recommendations provide a financial cost savings. Additionally, most also reduce what you may see as "dependence" or "obligations". Will your home be cool or clothes get dry when the power goes out because of excessive demand on the grid? Will you have to juggle your schedule to make a trip to the doctor for treatment of an air-conditioning induced adverse medical condition?

If you want relief from the heat then start with these simple recommendations. If you would like to take control of your life, give yourself options, reduce your dependence and obligations then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

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©2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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