Author Archive: Connie Athens

The Best Air Conditioners for Hot & Cold Climates

Excessive heat and humidity can make for uncomfortable living conditions.  In most areas, an air conditioner really is more of a necessity than a luxury.  Finding one that helps you keep your cool during the hottest months can be a challenge given the overwhelming number of styles and models available.  Add to that a desire to find a unit that is energy efficient, and the task can seem all but impossible.  Understanding the different styles and features offered can help arm you with enough knowledge and confidence to keep your cool during the hottest months and the shopping process.


The first thing to consider is whether or not dehumidification is an important feature in your next air conditioner.  If you live someplace humid (like the Deep South), finding a model that removes moisture from the air as it cools it is key.  If you live someplace drier (out West, for instance), dehumidification really isn’t necessary; you just need a unit that will cool the air circulating through your home.  The problem here is that most manufacturers don’t offer different models for humid and dry climates.  It’s worth noting, though, because it means you will want to review and understand how well prospective units handle humidity.  Spending more for a unit that’s great at dehumidifying doesn’t make much sense if you live in west Texas, but could be crucial if you live in south Louisiana.

When trying to decide how much cooling power you need, you’ll probably see AC units that measure their cooling capacity in tons.  What, exactly, is a ton of cooling power?  Believe it or not, it goes back to a time when buildings were cooled by large blocks of ice.  One ton of cooling power is equal to the amount of cooling a ton of ice could do in 24 hours.  How many tons you should look for really depends on a number of factors.  If you live in a climate with extreme heat (whether dry or humid), you’ll need more cooling power than someone who’s summers are less intense because your unit will simply have to work harder to keep up.  The size and layout of your home, and even your yard, factor in, too.  Two houses with the same square footage in the same climate region might not need the same size unit.  A few things that matter in addition to square footage include:  volume of air being cooled (high ceilings versus low, for instance); number of windows and how energy efficient they are (how much does direct sunlight coming in through windows affect the temperature in the house); and whether or not you have any trees, shrubs, or other structures shading your house.  A qualified retailer or contractor will be able to take info you provide about your home and make a recommendation that fits your needs.  If you’re worried about being oversold, it never hurts to ask for a second opinion.

If you’re looking for a central AC system, you have to make sure that your ductwork is sound.  Leaks at joints or holes in ducts will greatly decrease energy efficiency and overall performance.  Additionally, leaks or gaps in ducts can allow dust, dirt, and even small critters to make their way into your cooling system.

Whatever type of air conditioner you opt to purchase, don’t forget about the filters.  Filters remove dust and other particles from the air being cooled.  Over time, filters become clogged, which will make your unit less effective despite working harder.  How often your filter should be changed depends on conditions in your home.  If you live in a drier, dustier area or if you have pets, you might have to change the filter more often than someone with less dust or no pets.  Making sure your filters don’t get overloaded keeps the air in your home cleaner in addition to keeping your AC unit working optimally.

Understanding your basic requirements from an new air conditioner is the best first step to making the best investment you can.  Air conditioners don’t have to break the bank, but are definitely pricey enough to be worth doing some homework ahead of time. Consider buying the best portable air conditioner model too e.g. for bringing to the porch, entertainment room, lending to your guests, and so on.

Here’s Why You Should Put Your Kids in Music Lessons


Love for music is something all people share. Everyone loves music, according to their personal preference of course. However, not everyone knows how to create music, whether it is playing an instrument, singing or reading music. Developing these skills should start as early as possible. Children often lack appropriate guidance when it comes to acquiring these skills, or aren’t interested in learning them. Children should be encouraged and motivated to become musically inclined, by their parents and teachers, because the benefits are numerous.


  • It helps alleviate stress 


According to scientific studies, playing a musical instrument reduces blood pressure, slows heartbeat rate and regulates the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. The less cortisol, the more relaxed we feel. So, everyday music lessons will provide your child with a stress-relieving routine.



  • It makes people more intelligent


Playing a musical instrument is closely related to improvement of cognitive skills. Individuals who play musical instruments are found to have improved abstract thinking. Children, who had musical lessons through their education, have shown to be better at science and math. So, playing an instrument literally makes you smarter.


  • It improves social skills


Playing a musical instrument helps children to socialize. In this way, they are able to find peers that share the same interests. Music has a significant influence on social skills development, especially if children have music lessons in a team. This will help them relate easier and learn to function as part of a team.


  • It leads to better self-esteem


Gaining new skills, such as playing a guitar, flute or any other preferred instrument helps children develop confidence. Being good at playing an instrument enables them to believe they can accomplish more, thus building their confidence further.

Photo by David Morand.


  • It trains patience


When a child makes an effort to learn to play a musical instrument, it becomes aware that there is no instant gratification, but it takes time to gain new skills. This teaches them to be patient in every other aspect of their life. They learn that investing time and dedication lead to mastery.


  • It increases creativity


Playing an instrument over time, leads to proficiency. When individuals reach this advanced knowledge while playing musical pieces of other musicians, they usually start creating their own original musical pieces. These skills stimulate cognition, emotion, memory and out-of-the-box thinking.


  • Memory becomes better


When a child learns how to play an instrument, both brain hemispheres are activated. This strengthens the consolidation of learnt skills and improves memory. While playing, different parts of the brain will be stimulated, thus improving memory, boosting creativity and increasing IQ levels.



  • It leads to developing self-discipline


By making mental efforts, being dedicated and persistent while learning to play a musical instrument, children will learn to be disciplined as well. Teachers that work with children with ADHD say that music lessons help the children to remain disciplined as music instruments provoke their curiosity and thus make them persist in learning.


  • It creates a feeling of accomplishment


Learning to play any musical instrument, especially when it becomes difficult, and persisting until reaching the desired level, brings about real satisfaction and sense of achievement. This makes a person inspired and confident in other segments of life as well.


  • It’s so much fun


People who love music, singing and playing musical instruments know how much fun this actually is. There is no better feeling than that and the sense of fulfillment is irreplaceable. It brings joy in people’s lives.