Want to generate ingenuity? Shut off the A/C

As a high school science teacher, I often find myself testing Wolff’s Law, which claims that bones harden in relation to the loads of weight they’re subjected to. Normally, I love giving a lecture on this law, but the lack of interest expressed by my students made me feel like I’m banging my head against the wall. My skull must be thick as iron by now, according to that law! After several months of teaching disinterested teenagers about various aspects of science, I grew desperate – I had to convince these kids to try and learn! That’s when it happened, almost by chance. One day, during a lecture about human adaptation, the air ducts feeding air into the classroom ran quiet. The flow of cool air stopped, and within minutes, the room was getting significantly warmer. My students whined and groaned, saying they should be released early. I don’t think so! I used the sudden breakdown in the school’s heating and air conditioning system to drive a point home. I explained that each student had it in them to find a way to adapt to the changing environment. One student used her textbook’s cover as a fan, while another student used a bottle of ice water against his neck to cool off. Other students found themselves to feel comfortable, despite the air quality decreasing by the minute. For once, my students actually seemed interested in the lecture! I don’t know if it was coincidence, or if an HVAC service technician just happened to cause the A/C system in the school to shut down. Either way, I was thankful for the minor interruption in air conditioning. The students were happy too, since the air conditioning system was back online within the hour.

ac control

Using a ductless mini-split in my garage

Ever since I was a kid, my dad had me roped into working on cars with him all summer long. From classic muscle cars of the 1970s, to Modern tuners from the past decade, my dad and I have touched every number of cars that you could see on the road today. One thing I can tell you though, is that there’s no way we could have work on as many cars as we did if not for the excellent air conditioning provided by the room air conditioner he installed in the garage. My dad used to always tell me, “Son, set yourself up for success, starting with the place that you work in.” That’s why I to this day, I’ve relied on this excellent mini split system to keep my garage cool as I work on my own dream car. Don’t get me wrong, my sweet ride definitely steals the show whenever people come to see it in the garage. However, the next thing anyone mentions is the excellent air quality in the garage. that is entirely due to the mini split system I constantly have running anytime I’m in there. For a brief while, I used to rely on a window mounted AC unit. That worked out for the first few months, until the window mounted AC unit burned itself out. That’s when I knew that I needed something a little bit stronger if I really wanted to keep my workspace cool and comfortable. Thus, the mini split system was installed by a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professional. To be frank, I really should thank the HVAC professional who was a leading force in installing a mini split system. Without him, I would probably still be working in an extremely hot garage, never getting anything done.

ductless HVAC

Mechanical and electronic air filters – the backbone of defense against airborne sickness

When you work in healthcare, you get used to extra precautions as part of the job. Wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE, goes beyond gloves – sometimes, it requires a full isolation suit, complete with a hood, facemask and banded sleeves to render yourself airtight. All this effort could be to simply stock a supply room in the O.R., but you can’t take any chances and risk spreading germs! While the hospital is always loaded with the ill and injured, the heating and air conditioning system is one of the hospital’s best defenses against the spread of airborne illnesses. As far as filtration goes, the hospital’s HVAC system is equipped with standard air filters, mechanical air filters, and even electronic air filters – all working side by side to ensure the cleanest possible air is available to visitors and patients. While the standard air filters work to trap dust and dirt in the office environments of the hospital, the mechanical air filters are put to use in the sterile environments as a means to trap even the smallest dirt and dust particles. However, that isn’t guaranteed to be enough either, which is why the electronic air filters are put to use as well! These electronic filters ionize particles as they pass through the filter, which causes them to stick to a charged plate in the filter as well. This kind of filter is most expensive due to upfront and utility costs, but it’s the absolute best defense against any possible contaminants in the air. Like I said, the healthcare industry is built on the ability to treat injuries, reduce recovery time and discharge patients at their proper health. It’s hard to accomplish such a task if the hospital is circulating air filled with irritants and bacteria!

air filter

I CAN’T WAIT FOR SUMMER

The worst feeling in the world is when summer is winding down. You begin to see “back to school” supplies available in every store you go too and eventually it’s your first day back. I always feel like I completely forget what I Learned from the past year when I return to school. The classes go by super slow and the lunch is always the same. Either pepperoni pizza or peanut butter and jelly. I need to start packing lunches! It’s also so hot inside this school. The school must be looking to conserve some of its money for something else, because cooling systems are virtually non existent here! The only room in the school that has any air conditioner is the nurse’s office, which is so small it can only fit around four people inside of it at most. In the first two weeks of school, there are always a line of kids that are claiming to be sick, but in reality are just looking for a cooling breeze. I can’t blame them. This year there were so many kids lining up at the nurses office to use the a/c system, that the principal made an announcement over the speakers during lunch that the local HVAC company would be coming to the school this weekend to install six new heating and cooling systems around the entire school! I am still not happy to be back, not even close, but this year might not be so bad after all.

heating and cooling

LIVING IN THE CITY

I grew up living in a very small town in the south. It was the type of town where everybody knew everybody and there was a real sense of community all around. The cashiers know you by your name, and people are quick to trust you. People also looked out for those around you. During the summer, you could go sit in any close store to cool off in the air conditioning and relax. Now having moved to a big city nearby, I have learned not all places are as welcoming. I was jogging outside next to the city lake, it was so warm I felt like I was a living and breathing heating furnace. I saw a small restaurant nearby so I Thought I would come in to cool off from the scorching sun. I walk inside and I am hit by an amazing breeze of air conditioning chill. I told the person running the restaurant that I was not eating here I just wanted to use the air conditioning. Apparently this was a big problem. She started yelling at me saying that everyone is always coming into her store and hogging all of the heating and cooling units to themselves and not buying anything! I was so flustered, I bought three things off of the menu. I wish people would be more friendly in the big city, all I wanted to do was cool off. When I got back home after my run, it was so nice to sit down and enjoy the fresh, crisp air coming from the cooling vents without getting yelled at for it.

air conditioning repair

Back porch grilling

My wife and I love spending time out on the back porch whenever it isn’t too hot or cold outside. The temperature where we live gets hot during the summer, but not too cold in the winter so we usually grill out several times a week all year long. We set up a small outdoor kitchen area where we can entertain friends and family, especially during college football season. The season usually starts in August, which is one of the hottest months here. There are times when I’m out there grilling when the temperature is in the nineties. This year however, we bought a portable A/C unit that can be set up to blow air in a couple directions. I put one vent behind the outdoor fan so it would blow into the seating area, and the other pointing to the grill station so I can keep cool while cooking. This made a huge difference in our comfort level when we’re spending time in our outdoor kitchen. We went from sweating on those steamy afternoons to actually being comfortable while we have friends over. That little portable A/C unit was relatively inexpensive, and has practically paid for itself since we bought it. We definitely get a lot of use out of it. It also helps to keep the mosquitoes down at night, which are a major problem in the summertime. Finally, we have found a solution to the brutal heat that we used to have to sweat through in order to enjoy our grill and some football.

window a/c

Klutzy friends

My friends and I are avid mountain bikers, so any time we get the chance to get out for a ride we are really stoked about it. This past summer was an extremely rainy one, so a lot of new paths had been washed out of the woods on the mountain. With the first cold temperatures of fall setting in, we couldn’t wait to get out and discover the new trails. As luck would have it, on one of the first few runs, my buddy flipped on a rock and injured his arm. As we sat in the hospital waiting room, I was grateful that they had already turned their furnace on. It was getting late in the day with a rainstorm coming in and the temperatures were plummeting. It was nice and toasty in the waiting room. This was a good thing, because we were fairly certain his arm was broken and it would be a good while before we could leave. I could hear the furnace humming as I leaned against the wall in my chair. After a half hour or so I walked outside for some fresh air. The temperature had fallen so quickly that I thought it must be a record. It’s usually cool this time of year, but this was downright cold. I went back inside to the cozy heat that the hospital furnace was blowing and warmed up again. After a while my friend finally came back out with his arm wrapped up. It turned out that his arm was just sprained. I was happy that it turned out well for him on this chilly day.

furnace