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The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Blast that AC on the highway — it's good for the car and your hair

By JOAN STYLIANOS
August 08. 2018 11:16PM




I was raised in a large, old colonial home without air conditioning, and although we were luckier than most, as children, we were not overly spoiled. My father grew up poor during the Great Depression, and money was not to be wasted. He was old-fashioned and never owned a credit card. We were taught to “tough it out” and that meant no AC. In fact, my father thought air conditioning was unnecessary. He once told me, “You needed a year in the WACs” (Women’s Army Corps) to set my priorities straight. Ha ha.

Time has passed, and I’m still complaining. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough, and my frizzy, limp hair certainly speaks volumes. Southern New Hampshire’s tropical humidity seems to go on and on and on in the summer of 2018. The bad hair alerts continue.

Some people, strangely enough, enjoy the superheat and humidity; I meet those folks across Nashua daily.

“I just love it,” one woman in her 20s said while waiting in line at a bank. She probably has better hair than me or a comfy home with central air.

Another, a spry elderly woman in a Market Basket parking lot, struck up a conversation, explaining that she used to live in Florida and that the only time you could take a leisurely stroll was very early in the morning. She also cracked, “You wouldn’t last there; this is nothing, dear.”

Take, for example, Jacksonville, Fla., which ranks second on the list of most humid cities in the U.S., with an average peak of 89.2 percent at 4 a.m. Plus all the alligators? Ma’am, you can have it.

It’s been a very hot, muggy summer so far, and even The Washington Post is “investigating” the reason as a recent headline screamed: “Red-hot planet: All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week.”

The newspaper was talking about the steamy early July temperatures, and boy were they ever. You know it’s brutal out when iconic Mount Washington ties its all-time warmest low temperature of 60 degrees (July 2).

Meteorologists observed multiple regions across the Northern Hemisphere experiencing their hottest weather ever recorded during the first week of July. And August appears to be no cooler. Nashua-area residents have been enduring a week of this jungle-like atmosphere. The only things missing are the hungry, annoying mosquitoes, but as I’ve been reading, they’re on their way.

When you’re in traffic, check out the other vehicles. You will probably notice that about 80 percent have the windows up during these sweltering conditions. I just assumed having the AC on would waste more gas, but interestingly, that is not so on the highway. In fact, you are saving more fuel, so crank up the air conditioning when you “put the pedal to the metal.”

I came across an article with tips from the fueleconomy.gov website. Its advice for driving along the highway during a hot, summer day is to forget about rolling down the windows. Driving with the AC blasting is more efficient because open windows increase aerodynamic drag, or wind resistance, the site says.

Plus you’re also more comfortable and better focused on the road ahead when you’re not baking in the heat.

Meantime, like most of you, I’m trying to “tough it out” in red-hot Nashua, but now, I cannot wait for fall. Seriously.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.


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