The age of information has brought with it an age of myths and partial truths. Knowing the myths from the facts, and understanding the way some so–called tips conceal the whole truth, is a valuable lesson in learning more about the way your cooling system actually works. For customers who are eager to make their air conditioning systems more energy–efficient and cost–effective, some of these may come as a surprise. Remember to consult a professional about any cooling concerns during the spring and summer months.
- The higher the SEER rating of my AC unit, the higher my total energy–efficiency. The SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) measures how efficiently the system can cool the living spaces. While it is true that units with a high SEER rating often significantly cut air conditioning costs, there are other factors to consider. For example, if your ductwork contains leaks or is clogged with dust and other debris, your cooling system will still suffer energy loss due to lack of airflow, no matter how efficient your air conditioner is.
- Blasting my AC at the hottest parts of the day is the best way to keep my home cool. While this is at least partially true, the best way to ensure that your home stays cool throughout the day is a more moderate thermostat schedule. Ensuring that your home is properly insulated, including the duct system and the areas of the house through which it runs, means keeping that cool air inside, and reducing energy costs. What’s more, blasting your AC is not an efficient use of the system: it costs more money and energy than relying on gradual shifts in temperature
- Fans cool the air. Fans do not necessarily cool air, but they do help by moving air around in a given space. Ceiling fans can be useful to help with ventilation but aren’t as affective as central AC.
- Duct tape seals ducts. Your central air system relies on extensive ductwork to circulate cool air throughout your home. Sealed ducts are therefore important to keeping your home cool and your system efficient. Despite its name, duct tape does not actually seal ducts very well. It was created as a temporary fix. Contact a professional to have him use a proper sealing material.
- Turning up my thermostat when I leave the home helps to reduce air conditioning costs. Well, sort of. While it’s better to raise the temperature of your cooling system during the day when you’re not there, rather than turning it off completely, but the crucial considerations are for how long and exactly how much of a temperature differential. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you’ll benefit the most from this technique only if it is done for at least 8 hours and for no more than 5 degrees. Otherwise, it does not make a substantial difference. Keep in mind that multi–stage heat pumps are also designed to save energy in this way, so raising the thermostat would actually make your heat pump less efficient.
In Irish it’s known as Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick," but we call it St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated on March 17th of each year, this religious and cultural holiday commemorates the life of Saint Patrick (c. 387 – 461 CE). St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain, but was kidnapped and taken as a slave to Ireland. He received a vision, fled his captivity and became a priest. He became known as the hero of Irish Christianity and has been held in high esteem since. Although the holiday is religious in origin, it is also observed by secular–minded citizens for its importance to Irish–American culture, and remains a legal public holiday in the Republic of Ireland.
It’s not clear why we wear green. It seems as though the original color was blue, although as early as the 17th century, observers wore green ribbons and shamrocks to celebrate. The importance of the shamrock, those young sprigs of clover, descends from St. Patrick’s method of teaching the Holy Trinity to the Irish in the fourth and fifth centuries. It has since become a symbol of anything broadly Irish in nature, and is especially featured in attire and ornamental designs on St. Patrick’s Day. The phrase "wearing the green" became popular after the 1798 Irish rebellion, when Irish soldiers wore green uniforms on March 17th to boost morale and catch public attention.
Why so much partying? The religious aspect of the holiday lifts Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol, typically prohibited during the rest of the season. It has been celebrated in North America since the late eighteenth–century, even before the American Revolution. Chicago dyes its river green, and parades in New York City and throughout the country attest to the popularity of the holiday.
One myth about St. Patrick still in circulation is that he drove snakes from Ireland. Indeed, there are no snakes in Ireland, but it’s likely Paddy’s banishment of the serpent should be taken less literally. Before the rise of Irish Christianity and its Holy Shamrock, the reigning polytheism of the pagans included a host of animal symbols, one of which was the serpent. Thus, driving out the snakes meant abolishing pagan rites.