It is difficult for me to stay up much past the late news, but I can do it if I am in good company and if someone will give me a free New Year’s hat and silly little horn. There was only one place to eat and it was the nice restaurant at the lodge. By the time you have been there for two full days and eaten six straight meals with the same people, you begin to feel like family. In this case it was super nice.
On New Year’s morning, I left our room and went to the room with the BIG FIREPLACE and the BIG VIEW to get some coffee. As I stepped into the hallway a lady housekeeper with a vacuum cleaner looked at me and said, “Hey, I just read your article in the electric cooperative magazine last night.” I said, “Then you must know about the little bitty bedroom that I had as a child.” And sure enough she did.
She told me about her childhood, sisters and brothers, and a house with only a small wood heater for the winter. Then she said, “But we were all happy.”
Several others have commented on the article with their stories and all of them have mentioned that they were happy even though their houses did not have all the comforts that we have today. At that time I had not yet made a New Year’s resolution, but I heard the word happy so many times and I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year, so I made my New Year’s resolution: I will be happy regardless of the circumstances.
Although I am not convinced that it is necessary to have total temperature comfort for one to be happy, I am convinced that everyone would like to have comfort. In this and next month’s column, I am going to teach you everything I know about temperature comfort in your house.
Cash in on the comforts of home
The first thing to know is that not everyone has the same comfort temperature. Some like it hotter and some like it colder. Based on the calls that I get at the office I could say that a husband and wife rarely agree on which temperature is best.
One lady told me, in a kidding tone, that her husband was more worried about his cattle being comfortable than her. Comfort is usually related to both the air temperature and the relative humidity. Generally speaking, folks are most comfortable if the temperature is about 74 degrees with a relative humidity of about 50 percent. Remember that relative humidity is the percentage of moisture in the air compared to the most moisture that the air could hold at a certain temperature. Let’s start with some summer comfort tips.
I have never had a person tell me that their house was too dry in the summer. Let’s take a day in Arkansas when the temperature is 90 degrees. If the relative humidity is 70 percent, you will feel sticky hot because the moisture on the skin cannot evaporate and cool the body. So you turn on your AC unit. An AC unit cools by removing heat and humidity. As the humidity is lowered, the skin moisture evaporates and you feel cooler. That same 90-degree day in Arizona with 50 percent relative humidity would be like going to heaven because the skin moisture evaporates easily. So that 90-degree air at 50 percent is much dryer than the 90-degree air at 70 percent. If it were raining on a 90-degree day, the relative humidity would be right at 100 percent in either state.
How can we relate this to your house for better comfort? Well if it is a hot 90-degree/70-percent humidity day and your house has lots of air infiltration, leakage in the return air system, unvented bath areas, or anything making moisture, the air conditioning unit will have to work harder and longer to keep you in the comfort range.
If your air conditioning unit is oversized, it will not run long enough to remove the humidity, so you will probably lower the thermostat setting to make the unit run longer. All of this means higher utility bills. The solution is to caulk, repair ductwork, vent bathrooms, etc., and then purchase a properly-sized air conditioning unit when needed. This really isn’t complicated if you take it one step at a time. So I suggest that you let this much absorb and not evaporate and next month we will discuss winter comfort tips.
Until then, BE HAPPY.
Doug Rye, the “Doctor of Energy Efficiency-the King of Caulk and Talk” can be heard on several different Illinois radio stations. Or you can go to his Web site at www.dougrye.com, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-Doug-Rye or 501-653-7931. You can also sign up for a free newsletter and order his “how to” videotapes.
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