College Community Connection: Keeping Your Cool

College Community Connection

As temperatures outside rise, indoor thermostats often respond by calling for cooler air. This ability to control the indoor environment helps people be more comfortable. It protects infants, children, medically vulnerable individuals, and the elderly from heat-related illnesses. It enables workers to be more productive.

In our current age, air conditioning is something many folks take for granted. To address this blasé attitude, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry observes Air Conditioning Appreciation Days every year from July 3 to August 15.

But how does one show appreciation to an air conditioner? One way is to learn how it works and how it all began.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) offers a simplified explanation: A chemical (called the refrigerant) circulates through a closed system that includes three main components where the refrigerant is compressed, condensed, and evaporated. During the process, the refrigerant undergoes changes in pressure and temperature. This enables indoor heat to be absorbed and transferred to the outdoor environment.

The process of cooling the air also accomplishes other tasks. Filters can reduce allergens and other airborne particulates, helping people with allergies or other respiratory problems breathe more comfortably. Also, in addition to removing heat, the process reduces humidity. In fact, air conditioning was invented in 1902 by Willis Haviland Carrier originally as a means to reduce humidity in a printing plant. Cooling was a by-product.

Another way to appreciate your air conditioner is to keep it well maintained. Industry experts offer these tips: replace air filters on a regular schedule; use fans to help circulate air; cover windows with curtains or blinds; and run appliances that generate heat, such as ovens, washers and dryers, and dishwashers, during the evening.

When things go awry, you can call on qualified HVAC technicians, the superheroes of sweltering summer days. HVAC technicians are trained to restore your cool and help AC equipment to operate at peak efficiency.

The demand for HVAC technicians is high across our state and nation, and qualified job candidates can earn above-average wages. Southside Virginia Community College offers two fast-track career studies programs for students wishing to embark on careers in the HVAC industry, a Basic program and an Advanced program. Both are housed at the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill. The HVAC curriculum offers students the opportunity to learn how to install and repair residential and commercial HVAC systems. A solar component teaches students how a heat pump powered by solar panels can cool a house and reduce homeowners’ cooling bills.

For more information about entry into HVAC or other technical career pathways, call Chad Patton, SVCC’s Dean of Career and Occupational Technology, at 434-949-1038.

Dr. Al Roberts is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the city of Emporia. He can be reached via email at al.roberts@southside.edu.