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Is Air Conditioning Bad for You?

If having A/C is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

It’s summertime and the living ain’t easy. So, it’s time to break out the annual “A/C is unhealthy. Plus it’s sexist” discussion. And I can guarantee you three things about all of the women churning out these articles:

  1. They all live up north.
  2. They’re all a healthy weight.
  3. None of them are going through menopause.

Here in the South, Summer is hot and humid and brutal and LONG!! It lasts from approximately the middle of February until Thanksgiving dessert. Nobody would move down here if it weren’t for the glorious invention of central air. We’re expecting temperatures in the high 80’s this week here in Hotlanta. It was already 80 as I was driving to work today. I have my A/C cranked up so hard that there’s condensation on my office window. I took a lot of flack when I wrote last week that I was spending the 4th of July watching TV. It’s not that I don’t WANT to go outdoors. It’s that I physically CAN’T. I wasn’t always this way. But as I’ve gotten older (and yes, FATTER) I can no longer tolerate heat. I don’t go outdoors between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In addition to my age I also have health issues. I’m prone to migraines and heat stroke and if subjected to the hot Georgia sun, I would become ill in no time.

And believe me, it sucks. What makes it worse is that everybody thinks you’re crazy. Everybody hates WINTER. Complain on social media how much you hate the cold weather and you’ll get a lot of “I hear ya” comments. But Summer? Who hates Summer? You might as well hate puppy dogs and America.

Well, I hate it. A few years ago I read that some people actually get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the Summer. I am one of those people. I get depressed because I’m stuck indoors while everyone else is out enjoying the “beautiful weather.” I can’t go to baseball games. I turned down an invite to a party on a house boat last week (call me back in October.) I wait until sundown to take out the trash or get the mail.

A few years ago, my company moved me down to my own office 2 suites down from everyone else. I have a large window (with an exquisite view of the parking lot) and IT WAS HOT!!!! I kept turning the thermostat down, but it was still hot. One day, the owner walked into the lobby and said “Good lord, you could hang meat in this place.” I explained to him that even though it was cold in the lobby, it was stifling in my office. I chalked it up to the window. “No, because I have the same office in the other suite, and mine isn’t this hot.” He climbed up on my desk and realized that there was no air coming out of the vents. He reached up, and pulled out a large piece of cardboard that the previous woman (and yes, it WAS a woman) had put over the vents because apparently, she was cold. A lovely gust of cold air came whooshing out of the vents.

If you’re cold, there are plenty of ways to keep warm. You can put on a sweater. (and socks! I highly recommend to any woman who complains about a cold office that she wear shoes that cover her feat and a pair of socks!) Or a blanket. You can drink something warm. You can move around. You can run a space heater. But if you’re hot, there’s not a lot you can do. I’m sure my boss would frown on my coming to work naked. Plus I would stick to the chair. I drink my coffee at room temperature these days. At night, I turn the A/C down a notch AND put on my ceiling fan and I STILL wake up at 3AM drenched in sweat.

No, A/C is not unhealthy. LACK OF A/C is unhealthy! More people die from heat related illness than freeze in Winter temperatures. High school athletes have dropped dead during Summer practice. It’s been so bad in Europe (France had a record high of 114 degrees last week!) that they are finally overcoming their distaste for the A/C. A Berlin installer had to suspend its phone service because it was inundated with calls.

As for the latest A/C is bad take from the NY Times, this was my favorite response:

All I can add to that is “Amen, sister.”

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