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Monday, March 7, 2011

Tip #6

Tip #6 Air conditioning (instead of swamp coolers)

I found some great images from Google images this morning. The first photo is a swamp cooler, that's what I grew up with. You remember those-you have a water line from the hose on the back of the house, it goes up to the swamp cooler and the cooler pads act as 'filters' and send cool, moist air into the house.

Great, right?! Well, as long as you keep the filter pads changed and the unit doesn't leak and cause water damage to your roof. How often do you go up on your roof during a hot summer day to change the pads? Often times people don't bother, so you are blowing air through slimy filter covers into your house. Take a deep breath! Aaahhhh.

So when we bought our first house (years ago) Father In Law talked us into installing central air. "That's how much????!!!!" They're more expensive than swamp coolers, so I was very doubtful. Then I learned the differences between swamp coolers and air conditioning.

First, when you have a swamp cooler, you need to keep the windows open a bit. This can be a bad thing to do if pollen levels are really high (hello sneezing and wheezing time!) or if it's a bad air quality day. Where we live, our home is in the bottom of a 'bowl', so the dirty colder air gets trapped where we live in the valley, the warmer clean air is up above us at the ski resorts. We have a unique set of mountains here that are beautiful, but being surrounded by them at the bottom of the bowl means we get dirty air some days. It's usually worse in the winter, but the air quality can get a bit gunky in the summer as well.

And that leads me to forest fires. That is another time when you want the windows to your house closed up tight, not open a little so the swamp cooler can work. Can you imagine sucking smoke from a fire into a house filled with people with asthma?! We don't get a lot of fires here, but when we do, they can be deadly. That's what caused Son #2 to end up in the hospital one 4th of July weekend years ago. Very scary. We didn't realize until later how close he came to death while he was in the hospital. But that's another story......

After I got over the initial shock of how expensive air conditioning is, I started to enjoy it. And I felt even better when Asthma Doctor was asking questions about our home the first time we met him. One of the things he said was no swamp coolers for kids with asthma. Central air is much better for them. Ha! We made the right choice, even if I was still grumbling about the cost.

I'm not that good at explaining all the technical stuff of swamp coolers versus air conditioning, but if Asthma Doc tells me to use it, I will. I have also read articles in allergy and asthma magazines that have recommended using air conditioning. It's the first call I made when we bought our 2nd house since I learned the benefits for us. Hubby and I and all 3 kids have allergies (that's all 5 of us), the kids and I all have asthma (that's 4 of us).

I'll do any little thing I can to make our lives easier, and to have less episodes of sneezing, coughing and wheezing.

So, think about it, and do a little research on your own. And check into air conditioning if you don't already have it. It would be better to get it now, rather than waiting until the middle of July-it would probably be less expensive now too since it's off season.

Anyway, just another tip from what I've learned along the way of My Life As an Asthma Mom. I'll do anything to make our lives a little easier and our home a little safer. Stay tuned for more tips on keeping your house a little more allergy and asthma friendly.


  1. We also live in a bowl (ABQ). I would be shocked if you also live here but I don't know of many cities considered "bowls". We also have a swamp cooler. I always get the blue thick pads and have them changed every year but I worry (even w/ the air filter). I know they can let quite a bit of "yuck" in. The 10 yr high Juniper count is killer this year and has many people suffering (and is also the root of this current asthma attack my daughter is battling). I wish I had the money to convert but I really don't.....poor college student/single mom.

  2. I leave near SLC. You should check with your asthma doctor, I have heard that if it is medically necessary, insurance may cover it. I've heard they can write a prescription for central air. I haven't personally heard of anyone that has tried that yet, but it would be worth checking into. Also, some areas have "weatherization" programs in conjunction with their local health departments. Obama gave $ to improve living conditions for low income residents. Some programs can replace windows, doors, insulation, furnaces, central air, etc. You must apply and meet requirements. I have personally talked to people who have used that program for their asthmatic kids. Wonderful stuff!

  3. hmmm, well I found this link: but it doesn't have any info for my state. I may not be in this house much longer and if we move it will be to my Dad's duplex which is hard wood floors and new windows so even though it does use a swamp cooler it doesn't let every dang allergen straight in through the windows and it doesn't have 1400sqft (out of my current 1700 sqft) of carpet. It's only 900sqft but it is all hardwood (real hardwood). I won't ever buy another house with carpet or a swamp cooler. By the time I'm in the position to buy again it will be a VERY asthma-safe home.

  4. There are a few things you can do now, even if you can't change where you live. My first rule is shoes come off when you enter my home. That way, you're not dragging in dust, pesticides, bacteria, etc on your shoes. The other thing my Asthma Doc recommends is to take a shower or bath EVERY night. That way, the pollen is washed off your skin and hair. Otherwise, you roll around in it all night and wake up with puffy eyes and sneezing. Also, allergy shots have helped dramatically with my kids.

  5. Nice comparison! People still have their own preferences when choosing the right appliances for their homes. Having an airconditiong system installed is very common, especially in places that have a hot climate. It's up to them to use and maintain such types of A/Cs. They can also ask some advice from the experts. Yours is already very useful, but it's better to ask for a second opinion.

    Dell Ledermann

  6. Air condition is advice to people with asthma.

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