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Should cooling homes efficiently be a priority?

Part of the stimulus package is going to the weatherization of homes across the country, something the federal government has been doing since the 1970s for low-income people, according to the New York Times.

This time, there's a difference. A greater portion of the program's money is going towards houses in the Sun Belt--homes that need help surviving the hot months rather than the cold ones.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to help people save on air-conditioning usage, there are statistics calling into question whether we should be making it a priority to help cool rather than heat homes efficiently:

The nation spends twice as much on heating as on cooling, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, and it consumes more energy heating homes than cooling them. When it comes to emissions of heat-trapping gases, the department found, home heating is responsible for emitting twice as much carbon dioxide as home cooling.

There are some cogent reasons to invest in better cooling technology and insulation even in the Sun Belt. Blistering summers in recent years have made those without air conditioning, especially the elderly, vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Just think of the tragedy in France, where thousands of elderly folks were stricken by the heat, and deaths were blamed on lack of air conditioning. Babies are also very sensitive to heat, which may increase their risk of SIDS.

You may not be pro-air conditioning; I live in a basement space and don't need one. Properly insulating any living space can save energy in the summer months. See the
Department of Energy's Cooling Hints for tips on insulation, air conditioners and alternatives to keep your space as cool as you can this summer.

Tags: Air conditioning, Global warming, Health, Heat, Summer

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