It's safe to say we take the complex, mysterious unicorn of air conditioning for granted.
In Florida, most public places are set to a crisp subzero year round, and we know we can duck into a store or a Starbucks to get a little relief at almost any time. My office is pretty much an arctic tundra. I have a Snuggie on hand at all times. Going outside into the heat is so shocking sometimes, it feels like that scene in Fantasia where the dinosaurs all die out to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
American A/C usage is cranking, and has led to a robust debate in environmental contexts. We all know running it full blast drives up the energy use and the bill. And people from other countries don't rely on temperature control for comfort nearly as much as we do.
And how cold is too cold? Researchers have tried for years to determine an ideal thermostat setting for offices, and it's a hard question to answer. Productivity means something different in every workplace. And we all have that person we war with over the thermostat, right?
But we know this much: outside right now, it's hot. Very hot. Droopy hot. The forecast for this weekend at tbo.com/weather puts the temperature at up to 90 degrees … before factoring in the heat index.
This issue is full of ways to escape that heat, and bask in the cool respite of museums, movie theaters, libraries and more. Click here for ideas.
And because we're all about equal opportunity fun here, next week's issue will be the sassy response — ways to go outside and find a good time, heat and all.
But, back to air conditioning. It's busy season for people in this line of work. I talked to Cheryl Harris, executive director of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association, serving A/C professionals in Tampa Bay.
For air conditioning specialists, she said, the phone really starts ringing in May and doesn't slow until October. Lots of people with busted units will stick it out until the temperatures tick up. But that's not always a best practice in Florida, she said, which is rife with humidity.
"If they're not keeping their air on," she said, "they're going to be inviting mold."
The main thing to be aware of when fixing up your personal cooling situation is hiring a licensed contractor to do the work. Harris suggested going to myfloridalicense.com to look up anyone you're thinking about hiring, or calling her office at (727) 209-5745. They'll look it up for you.
How's that for cool?