Surviving the *Dog Days of Summer*

August Forecast—Hot and Humid

Surviving the Dog Days of Summer

So, here we are right smack dab in the middle of “the Dog Days of Summer”! Did you ever wonder about that phrase? It’s original meaning is probably not exactly what you thought.  Historically, the Dog Days were those following the  heliacal rising ( The heliacal rising of a star occurs annually when it first becomes visible above the eastern horizon for a brief moment just before sunrise, after a period of time when it had not been visible) of the star Sirius (the Dog Star).

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. 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 were adapted and evolved through the years, the connotations remained essentially the same.

Here in Florida, our Dog Days tend to extend into a much longer than 40 day period. We can expect this oppressive heat to extend 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 a look at our energy usage and what to expect from home 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 .

  • 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 an 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.

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.

We hope your “Dog Days” are pleasant ones…

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