A basic “5,000 BTU” air conditioner can pump about 1,500 Watts of heat out of a room every hour. To get more bang for your A/C buck, find the big ‘heat leaks’ in your room — and block them.
Your air conditioner is a pump, and what it pumps is an invisible liquid called ‘heat’. (OK, not really, but this is a useful way to think about it.) Your A/C unit scoops up the ‘heat liquid’ from inside the room, pumps it out through the window, and dumps it outside. As the ‘heat liquid’ is slowly drained out of your room, the room gets cooler, you get happier, and civilized indoor life can continue.
To boost the cooling power of your A/C unit, find out what’s letting heat leak into your room, and you block the leaks. If your room is constantly filling up with ‘heat liquid’, the pump (A/C) spends a lot more energy just keeping up with the leaks, and less energy dropping the temperature for you. Luckily, there are (at least!) three easy things you can do:
- Block the daytime sunlight. Sun flooding in through the windows also brings a flood of heat into the room. Close the blinds, pull the drapes. Congratulations, you’ve just closed a big, gaping hole that was pouring heat in to the room.
- Turn off every light you can — and replace others with LED or CFL bulbs. If you’re running three 60-Watt lightbulbs in the same room as a basic 5,000 BTU window A/C unit, you’re using 12% of your A/C’s cooling power just to pump out the heat that the lightbulbs are bringing in! Turn off the ones you don’t need, and replace the others with modern high-efficiency LED or CFL bulbs. Good job: you’ve just blocked another source of heat sneaking in.
- Unplug those electronic gizmos — or at least move the chargers to another room. Nearly everything plugged into a wall socket is leaking heat into your room. Put your hand on each ‘wall wart’ transformer, and if any of them feel warm, you’ve found another leak through which heat is sneaking into your room! When you unplug the gizmo, you plug another heat leak.
It’s common to find 20% or more of an A/C unit’s cooling power being used up needlessly, pumping out heat that you can easily block before it gets in. Block that heat before it gets in, and presto: 20% boost in A/C cooling power.
On the sunny afternoon of Sunday, April 29, 2012, Eleanor, Abby, and a friend, all age 9, walked half a mile to The Chilly Cow for ice cream, and then back again (with a stop at the library, of course) without adult supervision or accompaniment. Total round-trip time was slightly more than an hour, well under the contractually pre-negotiated 90 minutes.
The adventurers’ parents spent the intervening time in various degrees of distraction, ranging from mindful confidence to … less meditative states. Overall the experience was deemed a great success all around, and at least two of the parents in question got a little choked up for a moment over the “our kids are growing up” factor.
The trip itself was a little less than a half-mile each way, as the crow walks. If you’re a grownup, or driving, or both, you might think of this particular half-mile trip something sort of like this:
But if you’re walking, it’s more like this (please do click the image to get the full experience) :
But actually, I think that if you’re 9 years old, and you’re doing this by yourself for the very first time ever, it has nothing to do with time, or space, or distance, or any kind of map at all. It’s just pure, undiluted awesome. And that is exactly how it was reported afterwards.
This extremely tasty jerk chicken recipe comes from the awesome and sadly now-defunct Caribbean restaurant in New York City called Sugar Reef. It appeared in the sadly now-out-of-print Sugar Reef Caribbean Cookbook. Despite all the sadness, this recipe still makes people very happy.
The original recipe called for half the quantities of dry spices (except salt) as these, and included the note to double them for a more authentic flavor. These quantities have already been doubled (except the salt), and it’s delicious and spicy. If you wish, you can cut the dry ingredients (except salt) in half for a more mild flavor, but if you’re looking for a more mild flavor, then what the heck are you doing cooking jerk chicken?
I’d note that the heat of peppers can vary almost as much as peoples heat tolerances; carefully taste-test your peppers and adjust the quantity accordingly.
- 2T ground allspice
- 2T ground thyme
- 3t cayenne pepper
- 3t ground black pepper
- 3t ground sage
- 1.5t ground nutmeg
- 1.5t ground cinnamon
- 2T salt
- 4T garlic powder
- 2T sugar
- 0.25c olive oil
- 0.25c soy sauce
- 0.75c white vinegar
- 0.5c orange juice
- juice of one lime
- 1c chopped white onion
- 3 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet, habanero, or other very hot pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped. I’ve used more when the peppers have been too tame for my taste, and on at least one occasion, it still wasn’t enough for me. But maybe that’s my problem.
- 4 chicken breasts, trimmed; 6-to-8oz ea, or at least that’s what the recipe said in the cookbook, and that’s what they served in the restaurant. I’ve used boneless chicken thighs and been at least as happy, if not happier, with them.
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
- With a wire whisk, add the liquids.
- Add the chunky ingredients and mix well.
- Add the chicken breasts, cover, and marinate for at least one hour, longer if possible.
- Preheat outdoor grill.
- Grill chicken breasts for 6 minutes each side or until fully cooked. While grilling, baste with marinade.
Alternatively, instead of grilling the breasts (or thighs) whole, you can cut the chicken into large chunks, and grill it on skewers, turning them every couple of minutes.
The original recipe ended with “Heat the leftover marinade and serve on the side for dipping,” and while I’m skeptical about serving goo that’s had raw chicken sitting in it, I think if you “heat” it all the way to a boil first, it’s probably fine.
They also say that this recipe “serves 4”, but I’ve found that if you make up the specified amount of jerk marinade, you can easily marinate twice as much chicken in it. Put the marinade and the chicken in a heavy-duty zip-lock bag for efficient marinating.