Hot summer streets ~ And the pavements are burning
I sit around ~ Trying to smile
But the air is so heavy and…This heat has got right out of hand.
From “Cruel Summer” by Steve Jolley, Tony Swain and Bananarama
Living Through Another Canicular Season
Canicular– of or relating to the period between early July and early September when hot weather occurs in the northern hemisphere. The Latin word canicula, meaning “small dog,” is the diminutive form of canis, source of the English word canine. Canicula was also the name for Sirius, the star that represents the Hound of the hunter Orion in the constellation named for that Roman mythological figure. Because the first visible rising of Sirius occurs during the summer—the hot sultry days that occur from early July to early September came to be called dies caniculares, or as we know them in English, “the dog days.”
The Greeks and Romans defined the “dog days” as occurring around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun. Because Sirius is so bright, the ancients believed it actually gave off heat, adding to the Sun’s summer warmth. Since this took place in late July and into August, these days fell at the hottest time of the year, an interlude that, according to the Greek’s and Roman’s astrological system, brought heat, drought, storms, lethargy and fever, mad dogs and bad luck!
The term “Dog Days of Summer” came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun —presently July 3rd to Aug 11th in the northern hemisphere. Though the origins of the phrase and its original meaning have adapted and evolved through the years, the connotations remain essentially the same.
What To Do When Temperatures Rise!
It’s Summer in Florida—so it’s a little hot, right…
Well, maybe it is a lot hot!
Here in Florida, our Dog Days tend to extend into a much longer than 40 day period. We can expect this oppressive heat to last through most of September at least. Floridians have nothing to look forward to but more hot weather until at least mid-fall. With the worst of the heat and humidity still to come, its a good time to take to take measures to make the most of our cooling systems during the Summer. This is the busiest season for HVAC maintenance technicians in Florida, so keep in mind that if your system fails or malfunctions, it may take longer to get service. Good practices on your part can save you much inconvenience and expense.
Power bills soar along with the summer temperatures, and utilities are stretched, attempting to provide sufficient energy to meet the increased demands. It’s definitely time to look at our energy usage and what we can expect from our cooling systems this Summer.
- To maintain your (HVAC) unit at top efficiency, this is the time to make certain that the filter is new or cleaned. A dirty or clogged filter makes the air conditioner work harder, and can cause the air compressor to break down. Many service calls and much expense could be avoided by changing or cleaning filters regularly. Changing them bi-monthly is a good rule of thumb, but you also need to keep in mind such factors as household allergies, whether or not you have pets, and how many people occupy the home. Change it when it is dirty. Additionally, keep in mind that your machine has to be able to breathe. If there are any shrubs or debris near the outdoor unit, get rid of them.
- Most HVAC systems in use today are not able to provide very cool temperatures when it gets above the mid-nineties outside. Be sensible. Set your thermostat to a temperature that is realistic in this very hot weather. Even with efficient and well running AC, there will be areas in your home that don’t have vents in prime locations, and you may find that the AC just isn’t providing the overall cooling you need. Use fans (ceiling fans if you have them—remember to set your ceiling fans for summer to Spin Counterclockwise) to keep air circulating throughout your home. In lieu of ceiling fans if you don’t have them, use portable room fans—these are a great solution because, being easy to move around, you can use them in different areas throughout the day as the sun moves, or set them up in the rooms you are occupying.
- Keep all exterior doors and windows shut. If the windows are open, or doors are constantly being opened and closed, cool air inside your home escapes, and it becomes extremely difficult to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. It’s a good idea to check the seals on windows and doors, as constant leakage of air-conditioned air is costly. During the heat of the day, it is also an excellent idea to shut curtains or blinds that allow direct sunlight inside. This causes significant indoor heating. Don’t forget also, that the use of some appliances— most notably, the oven or stove and washer/dryer produce a good deal of heat and impact how well your AC is working. Even things like the microwave and toaster have some effect. Do laundry early if possible, and plan meals that use the least amount of energy during peak heat.
- These measures, and other things, like planning your landscaping to take advantage of the shade properties of trees, etc., will not only help your HVAC system function more efficiently, but save you money on both service and utility bills.
You Have Tried It All And It's Still Hot
Keeping in mind the limitations of your Air Conditioning and the outdoor temperature, if you feel that your unit is not functioning effectively, call us at D.G. Meyer, Inc. (386-253-7774) or Contact our Service Department for an appointment. This is a very busy time of year for us, but we are available 24/7 and will get to you as quickly as is possible.
While you wait for service on your Air Conditioning, or in the event that you are forced to work or spend an extended amount of time in the summer heat, be mindful of the physical toll the heat can take on the body. Heat related illnesses (hyperthermia), most commonly heat-exhaustion or heat-stroke, claim the lives of about 650 people a year in this country. Since these illlnesses commonly go unreported, there is no real way to know just how many people do succumb to the heat each year.
There are several common sense precautions everyone should heed during a heat wave:
- Frequently check on people at risk for heat-related death, such as the elderly, disabled or homebound.
- Never leave children alone in a car, and make certain that children can’t lock themselves into any enclosed space, such as a car trunk.
- Limit sun exposure during the midday hours and in places of potential severe exposure, such as the beach.
- Drink plenty of (nonalcoholic) fluids, and replace the body’s salts and minerals, which sweating releases.
- Don’t take salt tablets unless under medical supervision.
- Dress infants and kids in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces from the sun with hats or an umbrella.
- Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.
This information courtesy of cdc.gov
We at DGM hope that your “Dog Days” are pleasant ones…