With temperatures in the triple digits, air conditioning can seem like a godsend. However, while air conditioning provides respite from the oppressive heat, experts warn there is a dark side to its benefits. According to Payless Power, 87% of US homes are air-conditioned, 75% of which are central units. These can have both positive and negative health effects.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of air conditioning:
- Dehydration. According to WebMD, air conditioners remove moisture from a room to reduce humidity and cool the area. It can also draw water out of your skin and make YOU dry. Your eyes may also suffer, becoming irritated and itchy.
- Sick building syndrome. If you work in an air-conditioned building with poor ventilation, you may experience headaches, nausea, dry cough, dizziness, trouble concentrating, fatigue, and sensitivity to smells. Forced air can also increase your risk of COVID-19 infection. Regular filter changes and opening windows can reduce this risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “A large body of research has shown that occupants of air-conditioned offices tend to report more symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS) than occupants of naturally ventilated offices,” said William Fisk, manager of the Lawrence’s interior environmental group. Berkeley National Laboratory.
- Reduces the risk of hospitalization and death due to cardiovascular disease. A study by Yale researchers found that using air conditioning reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from cardiovascular problems.
- Reduces the risk of heatstroke and heat-related deaths during heat waves. Fisk points out that with climate change, we are experiencing higher and more dangerous temperatures. Air conditioning helps prevent unnecessary heat-related deaths. A properly maintained air conditioning unit also filters particles from the circulating air. “With air conditioning and windows closed, indoor concentrations of outdoor air pollutants such as particulates, ozone and allergens are reduced,” he said.
- Boosts metabolism. Studies show that spending more time in cold weather could help you lose weight by burning more “brown fat.” Air conditioning in hot weather can help you stay cool and burn fat.
- Helps improve cognitive abilities. A 2018 Harvard study showed that college students who lived in dorms without air conditioning during warmer months performed worse on cognitive tests than those who had cool central air, WebMD explains.
- Irritates the airways. Studies have shown that people who work in air-conditioned buildings report more upper respiratory symptoms such as irritated nasal passages and difficulty breathing than those who work in naturally ventilated buildings.
- Helps you sleep. Experts say sleeping in a room between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for the best rest. A cool room helps your body cool down, which is part of a natural sleep cycle
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