heat

Keeping Your Cool on a Heat Island

Jessica on Heat Island

Jessica on Heat Island

It’s 9 a.m. and I’m on my way to my internship at EPA. I’m sweating through my clothes, my hair is plastered to my neck, and mascara is pooling under my eyes. The summertime heat and D.C.’s swampy humidity are bad enough, but an extra dose of suffering comes from the heat island effect.

Washington, D.C., like many developed areas, is a heat island: all of the pavement and buildings absorb and retain much more heat than less built up areas. This means they can be 1.8 to 5.4°F warmer on average, and up to 22°F warmer in the evening.

 

 

Temperatures climb more among buildings and roads than open land and vegetation.

Temperatures climb more among buildings and roads than open land and vegetation.

Heat islands aren’t only uncomfortable, they can be hazardous to people’s health. And, they can create a vicious cycle: higher city temperatures mean more electricity is needed to cool buildings, which in turn may increase air pollution. Also, when an extreme heat wave hits a city already stressed by the heat island effect, it can increase the risk of heat-related illness and death. This risk is worse for children, the elderly, and the ill, who are more vulnerable to extreme heat and polluted air.

EPA’s Heat Island Reduction Program suggests several strategies that cities can take to reduce summertime heat islands:

  • Planting trees near buildings: Trees and other plants help cool the environment.
  • Installing green roofs: Green roofs provide shade and remove heat from the air.
  • Installing cool roofs: Cool roofs have a high solar reflectance that helps reflect sunlight and heat away from the building.
  • Using cool pavements: Cool pavements reflect more solar energy, enhance water evaporation, or have been otherwise modified to remain cooler than conventional pavements (like those that allow water to permeate below the surface).

These tactics reduce demand for energy to cool buildings, which cuts carbon pollution and lowers bills. Using these cool technologies reduces the heat island effect, helping everyone stay cool.

Permeable pavement reduces runoff, mitigating heat buildup and improving drainage.

Permeable pavement reduces runoff, mitigating heat buildup and improving drainage.

 

The city heat can be a real nuisance (especially when trying to look professional for work!), but it can also be dangerous. Luckily, there are plenty of things that can be done to combat the heat island effect and keep safe in the heat. Listening in on heat island webinars and calls, I’m excited to hear about how communities are taking action to make life safer and more comfortable for residents. There’s a lot we can do as individuals and communities to reduce heat island, and those efforts can add up and have a big impact for us and the environment.

And there’s some good news for D.C. The District Department for the Environment recently created a Green Building Fund Grant Program, which has several goals, including assessing the health impacts of urban heat islands in this city. So, hopefully, future interns will benefit from this research and resulting policy changes. What is your city doing to reduce the heat island effect?

About the author: Jessica D’Itri is a Master of Public Policy student at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Prior to attending the Ford School, she served as an environmental educator with Peace Corps Nicaragua. She is interested in learning how communities and local governments can implement policy to best benefit people and the environment.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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ENERGY STAR’s Top Tips to Save Energy This Winter

Girl in Winter Hat

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Did you know that the average family spends $2000 on utility bills each year, and nearly half of that amount goes to heating and cooling your home? With the temperature dipping to dangerously low levels in many parts of the country, this is prime time to make sure that your home is ready for the cold temperatures ahead. Check out these energy saving tips from the experts at the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, and get ready to enjoy winter in energy efficient comfort. 

ENERGY STAR’s Top Eight Tips to Save Energy this Winter 

1.)    Use a programmable thermostat: Program your thermostat to match your schedule. To maximize savings without sacrificing comfort, program the thermostat to lower the heat by 8 degrees Fahrenheit or more when you’re away from home or asleep, and you can save about $180 per year.

2.)    Seal leaks and insulate: Hidden gaps and cracks in a home can add up to as much airflow as an open window and cause your heating system to work harder and use more energy. Sealing and insulating can improve your home “envelope”—the outer walls, ceiling, windows and floors—which will make your home more comfortable and improve the efficiency of your heating system by as much as 20 percent. You can save up to $200 a year by sealing and insulating with ENERGY STAR.

3.)    Keep your air filters clean: Check your heating and cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. At minimum, change the filter every three months. This simple change will help your system work at maximum efficiency—lowering your energy bills and helping your family maintain better indoor air quality.

4.)    Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly: Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Learn more here.

5.)    Install a door sweep: Door sweeps–or weather stops for garage doors–seal the gap between the bottom of the door and threshold, preventing cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping.

6.)    Close your fireplace damper: Fireplace dampers eliminate drafts by sealing your fireplace shut when you’re not using it. Consider using a fireplace “balloon” to make the seal even tighter.

7.)    Change a Light: With shorter days and longer nights, many families will turn on more lighting at this time of year. Select ENERGY STAR certified lighting for bulbs that use 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent and last 10 times longer.

8.)    Look for the ENERGY STAR: If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling system with ENERGY STAR certified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR: Find More Comfort and Savings by Adding Insulation to Your Attic

Attic Insulation

By: Doug Anderson

This week EPA invites you to “Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR,” by sealing and insulating your home. This blog post is the fourth in a five part series from ENERGY STAR’s home envelope expert Doug Anderson about the benefits of sealing and insulating your home, and how you can get started this fall.

In yesterday’s blog, I covered how the attic is typically where the largest energy savings opportunity exists and how to seal air leaks in this area. To complete your attic energy-efficiency improvements, you then need to install additional insulation. By increasing your attic insulation levels, you can save energy and greatly improve the overall comfort of your home.

Attic Insulation: Deciding whether to do it yourself or hire a contractor

If your attic is accessible and not too difficult to move around in, and you enjoy tackling bigger home improvement projects, adding attic insulation may be a good do-it-yourself (DIY) project for you. EPA’s Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR program provides great DIY resources to guide you through the process. Even if you are not comfortable taking on this project yourself, there are many qualified contractors who can help you get the work done.

Also, consider consulting a contractor if your attic has wet or damp insulation, moldy or rotted rafters or floor joists, little or no ventilation, or pre-1930 knob and tube wiring. These may require repairs before starting.

Check the Level

Whether you are planning to do the project yourself or hire a contractor, start by checking your attic insulation levels or depth.  All you need is a tape measure or yardstick.  Taking a few pictures of the existing insulation in each direction inside your attic can provide a good record of where you are starting from, so bring a cell phone camera or digital camera with you.

Use the tape measure or yardstick to measure the depth of your existing insulation.  Insulation often varies in depth so check in a few places.  Knowing your current insulation depth will help you determine whether you should add more and how much more you should to add.

Choosing your insulation

Next, choose the right insulation for the job. Rolls of insulation can cover large areas of the attic and are great for wide open rectangular attics. They are available in fiber glass, mineral wool, plastic fibers, and natural fibers, such as cotton.   Loose fill insulation is another common attic insulation made up of loose fibers of cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool that can conform to any space, making it ideal for odd shaped or hard to reach locations.

Installing attic insulation

When installing additional insulation, you do not have to use the same type of insulation that currently exists in your attic. You can add loose fill on top of rolls, and vice versa. If you use roll insulation over loose fill, make sure the roll has no paper or foil backing; it needs to be “unfaced.” Rolls installed over existing rolls should be placed side-by-side perpendicularly to the joists to cover the entire space.  Think carefully before you choose this option.  The many rolls you will need can be large to carry back from the store in a small car, and can be difficult to squeeze through small attic hatch openings.

If you choose to add loose fill, it may be wise to hire a professional, as the application requires the use of a blowing machine.  Some home improvement stores offer rentals of this machine for the motivated DIYer.  The machines are heavy and usually require an SUV or pickup to get home.

Keep in mind that insulation can create a fire hazard if it comes into direct contact with places that can get hot, like light fixtures, chimneys or flues, so you should take the proper precautions. Use sheet metal or wire mesh to help create a barrier around them.  Some home improvement stores now sell insulation covers for insulating around recessed lights.

Learn More

Visit the newly updated Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR website for more detailed information on how to install attic insulation.

Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR this week. Start insulating your attic to get more energy savings and comfort for your home!

Doug Anderson is an ENERGY STAR Project Manager and has been with EPA for 13 years. He works on issues related to the home envelope, including insulation products and energy efficient residential windows.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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How Hot is Hot?

By Michael Rohwer

When I complain about the DC heat to my Austin-bred housemate, he likes to remind me that I, a native Michigander, don’t know what hot really is.

But just the other day, I caught that same housemate saying “it is sweltering in DC.” AHA, it IS hot here, and getting hotter! It would be easier to refrain from saying “I told you so” if I didn’t also have the proof to back it up: EPA’s Climate Change Indicators in the U.S. Report, using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, shows the DC region has warmed at a faster rate than all of Texas over the last century.

Since 1901, the average surface temperature across the contiguous 48 states has risen at an average rate of 0.13°F per decade, which means that it gets warmer by 1.3°F per century. But that’s not the whole story. Temperatures haven’t risen at a constant pace over time or in different parts of the country. Average temperatures have risen more quickly since the late 1970s and seven of the top 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous 48 states have occurred since 1990. Some parts of the U.S. experienced more warming than others. The map below shows how quickly temperatures are changing across the country. The map is a darker red in DC (and Michigan) than it is in Texas. This means it is getting hotter faster in those areas than in Austin.

Concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are increasing in the Earth’s atmosphere. In response, the climate is changing and, among other things, average temperatures at the Earth’s surface are rising. But those changes haven’t happened uniformly, and regional differences are expected to continue with future warming. The North, the West, and Alaska have seen temperatures increase the most, while some parts of the Southeast have experienced little change.  Temperature is a fundamental measurement for describing the climate and the temperature in particular places can have wide-ranging effects on human life and ecosystems. For example, increases in air temperature can lead to more intense heat waves, which can cause illness and death, especially among children and the elderly.

So sure, Texas is still hot, but it’s growing warmer faster here in DC.  Maybe my housemate and I are both right?

How does the map look where you live?

About the author: Michael Rohwer is an ORISE Fellow supporting the communications team in the Climate Change Division within the Office of Air and Radiation. When he’s not pursuing a career in protecting human health and the environment, you can find him enjoying gardening and sports.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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ENERGY STAR’s Top 8 Ways to Save on Cooling

Boy, sky, globe

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Break out the sunscreen and slip on your sandals because summer is officially here. For many, this is one of the best times of year, with longer days and plenty of sunshine to keep you outdoors and enjoying the season. But one must head inside at some point, and you may be surprised to know how much you spend on cooling your home. The average American family spends 15 percent of its utility bill on cooling, and that adds up to hundreds of dollars each year. Check out ENERGY STAR’s top 8 ways to save on cooling this summer, and get ready to save energy, save money and better protect the climate.

1.)    Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly:

Just like a tune-up for your car, a yearly tune-up of your HVAC system can improve efficiency and comfort.

2.)    Seal and Insulate:

You can save up to $200 a year in heating and cooling costs (or 10 percent on your energy bill) by sealing and insulating your home with ENERGY STAR. When correctly installed with air sealing, insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

3.)    Install a programmable thermostat:

Used properly, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

4.)    Change your air filter at least every 3 months:

Check your heating and cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool—wasting energy.

5.)    Use a ceiling fan to cool off:

Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room, make sure to turn off the fan.

6.)    Close the shades:

Close the curtains and shades before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to act as shade.

7.)    Buy ENERGY STAR certified lighting:    

Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices—ENERGY STAR certified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced too.

8.)    Look for the ENERGY STAR:

If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, simply look for the ENERGY STAR. Central air conditioners that have earned the ENERGY STAR are about 16% more efficient. Room air conditioners that have earned the ENERGY STAR use about 10% less energy than conventional models. Fun fact: If all room air conditioners sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $520 million each year and 7 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from more than 670,000 vehicles.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team at EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. Every summer she enjoys early evening walks around neighborhood with her husband and trips to Rehoboth Beach with friends and family.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Fall into Energy Efficiency

Brittney Gordon-Williams

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Fall is by far my favorite time of year. After the sweltering heat of a DC summer, no season makes me happier than the crisp mornings that come with September. It brings back memories of returning to school as a kid and all of the excitement that came with a fresh start to the school year. These days, fall means yummy seasonal flavors at the coffee shop and the chance to bundle up once again in my favorite jeans and sweaters. But, as I slowly start to feel the chill creeping into my home, I am reminded once again that fall is prime time to make sure that my house is prepared for the upcoming wintery months.

Did you know that the average family spends more than $2,100 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling? Properly maintaining your home in the cooler months can save you money and will also protect the climate from harmful greenhouse gas emissions. So, what are the most important things that you should be doing to get your home ready?

1.)    Maintain your heating equipment: The number one cause for heating system failure is the neglect of your equipment. If your system is more than 10 years old, this is the time to schedule a pre-season check up with a licensed contractor. A contractor can let you know if your system is operating at peak performance. You should also check your system’s air filter every month, and when it is dirty, change it. At minimum, change your filter every three months.

2.)    Use a programmable thermostat: The best way to control your home’s temperature is to use a programmable thermostat. By using the pre-programmed settings, you could save about $180 every year in energy costs.

3.)    Seal air leaks in your home. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. Sealing air leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a significant impact on improving your comfort and reducing energy bills. If you are adding insulation to your home, seal air leaks first to ensure you get the best performance from your insulation. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape, and insulate all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages). Also, make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet floors, walls, and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.

4.)    Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products. Whether you are replacing light bulbs or appliances in your home, ENERGY STAR qualified products can help you save energy and reduce energy bills. The label can be found on more than 65 types of products ranging from heating and cooling equipment to ENERGY STAR certified lighting.

ENERGY STAR’s website has everything you need to get your home ready for fall. From tools to help you compare your energy use to similar homes across the country, to recommendations from EPA’s Home Energy Advisor, energystar.gov is your one-stop shop for all things energy efficient.  Starting this weekend, I am going to use these tips to make sure my energy bills don’t rise with the falling temperatures.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the ENERGY STAR program’s communications team. She came to EPA in 2010 after a career in broadcast journalism.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Overheated NYC Apartments Can be Prevented!

By Juan G. Gutierrez

May 31st marks the end of the “Heat Season,” for building owners in New York City to provide heat to tenants until October 1st.  This should also mark the period to begin repairing, tuning up, or replacing boilers and radiators in the multifamily buildings throughout the city.  One of NYC tenants’ major complaint, beside very little heat in a city apartment, is an overheated apartment!  Some apartments are so hot that it kills house plants and tenants resort to desert plants! New Yorkers’ solution to overheated apartments for years has been to open up their windows, to release some of the heat trapped in their apartments.  Many of these buildings are overheated simply because they have a hard time ensuring that every apartment is heated.  So some apartments in the same building might be overheating while other apartments might just have enough heat to comply with the City Housing Maintenance Code and State Multiple Dwelling Law.

There are solutions for these old apartment buildings that have problems with overheating by their water or steam radiators.  One consideration could be the installation of thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on every radiator in the building.  Most TRVs do not require electricity, are easy to install by almost any handy person, and can cost as little as $40 to $50 each.  TRVs have a built-in sensor that opens and closes the radiator according to the temperature in the room, providing an individualized comfort control to any room.

TRV is a proven technology that has been around since the mid 1940’s.  TRV has been put to test in a demonstration project in 1995 here in NYC, by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Report No. 95-14, Titled: Thermostatic Radiator Valve (TRV) Demonstration Project Reference No. PB96-198163.  The report concluded that “overheated apartments achieved energy savings through the installation of TRVs.”    Since the report was written in 1995, the savings associated with fuel cost might be even greater today making the simple payback period even shorter.

Other maintenance tips that apartment building owners and management can do to their boiler heating systems are:

  • Clean boilers and radiators
  • Tune boilers
  • Replace leaking radiator vents and steam main vents
  • Insulate bare piping
  • Reduce domestic hot water at a constant minimum temperature of 120º degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalds and save energy (check local codes for specific temperatures)
  • TRV temperature should be set at 70º degrees Fahrenheit

The best thing about TRVs is that the investment made to control radiator heat pays for itself in the long run through energy cost savings.  It also provides a comfortable apartment temperature.

About the Author:  Juan is an Environmental Protection Specialist with EPA Region 2.  He is currently the region’s ENERGY STAR coordinator.  He grew up in Corona Queens, NY, and is a former US Marine Corps Sergeant.  He graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics and received a Masters in Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College.  Juan currently resides in Corona Queens where you can usually find him riding a bicycle.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Get Your Heat On!

By Chandler von Schrader

For better or worse, cold weather has arrived and it’s time to “get your heat on.” You may have already switched your thermostat over to the heating mode and had one of those “please, please, please start” moments! While you are waiting to hear that familiar “whoosh” of warm air, you try to remember if you had a preseason heating maintenance service… was that this fall or last year? Did they check the heating system when they last serviced the central AC? Is it operating at its peak efficiency and doing so safely? Will it work all season long?

Then, the heat kicks on and those panicked thoughts melt away. Or maybe not…

Years back, I worked as a salesman for a heating and cooling company and was always amazed by the general lack of concern homeowners gave to their heating and cooling systems. If these folks had only paid half as much attention to their heating and cooling system as they do their car, they might not be replacing their systems quite so often. Regardless of how the age of your system, homeowners can take some simple actions to maximize the efficiency and useful life of their heating equipment:

  1. Manage your temperature settings at your thermostat or better yet get a programmable thermostat to set your house temperature smartly while you are home, asleep or away. High bills are directly related to how long your system operates.
  2. Check your air filter and change it when it’s dirty. Dirty filters reduce air flow and allow dust accumulation on the system’s components. This simple action can have a profound impact on your system’s longevity and efficiency.
  3. Walk your ducts in your house and look at where they are attached to the registers. See dust streaks? Feel air leaking out? Seal these little leaks with metal tape.
  4. If your home is uncomfortable or you have high bills and just don’t know where to start, seek a professional home performance contractor. They will perform a comprehensive review of your home’s energy use and provide detailed guidance on making the right improvements for overall comfort and efficiency. For more energy efficiency guidance, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

About the author: Chandler has been with EPA nearly ten years promoting energy efficiency best practices for home improvement contractors, remodelers, and HVAC contractors under the banner of Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. His prior experiences include owning a remodeling company, selling HVAC systems, managing weatherization programs and conducting thousands of energy audits.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Heat, Environmental Factors, and Working Out

I have always liked working out outdoors. While I exercise indoors at the gym most of the time, during the weekend I like to go running and walking along a trail by the Bayamón River banks. The beautiful scenery and birds are part of what makes this workout something I look forward to the whole week. However a recent diagnosis of temporary high blood pressure prevented me from working out for a few weeks. Resuming exercise involved only working out indoors and eliminating all high intensity workouts. At first, I was reluctant to refrain from running outdoors. So I have resumed my runs at a slower pace and during the early morning hours.

While I am sunwise during outdoor activities and protect my skin from UV rays by wearing a wide baseball cap, sunscreen and sunglasses, I was not aware that other environmental factors can contribute to heart disease and aggravate high blood pressure. Excessive heat and poor air quality are the most common environmental culprits related to heart problems. Hot weather can worsen ground-level ozone and air quality. In Puerto Rico, during the summer, Sahara dust particles make the situation even worse. According to NOAA’s website, high temperature, humidity and physical exertion can lead to heat disorder or heat stress.

Heat stress occurs when the body can no longer keep blood flowing to supply vital organs nor send blood to the skin to reduce body temperature. Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • weakness
  • headache
  • breathlessness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • feeling faint or actually fainting.

It takes 30 minutes at least to cool the body down once a person suffers heat exhaustion. If not treated promptly, heat exhaustion can lead to serious heart problems. Preventing heat stress is simple. Here are a few suggestions I am currently following in order to enjoy exercise in the great outdoors without putting my overall health at risk.

  • Take rest breaks–I pause for 5 minutes intervals during my 4-mile jog
  • Limit heat exposure time—Perform outdoor activities early in morning or late afternoon hours
  • Check the air quality index — Avoid exercising when air quality is poor
  • Wear light and loose-fitting clothing
  • Drink plenty of water

Simple steps will allow you to stay healthy while you exercise!

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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El calor, los factores ambientales y los ejercicios al aire libre

Siempre me ha gustado hacer ejercicios al aire libre. Mientras hago ejercicios en el gimnasio la mayor parte del tiempo, durante los fines de semana me gusta ir de jogging por un camino a lo largo de las riberas del Río Bayamón. El bello paisaje y las aves son parte de lo que más me atrae de esa experiencia y es algo que aguardo con interés la semana entera. Sin embargo, un diagnosis reciente de hipertensión temporera me ha impedido hacer ejercicios por un par de semanas. Ahora que estoy reanudando mi rutina, me he tenido que conformar con limitar mis ejercicios a entornos cerrados y eliminar aquellos de alta intensidad. Al principio, estaba renuente a eliminar las carreras al aire libre de mi rutina deportiva. Por ende, reanudé mis carreras a un ritmo más lento y temprano en la mañana.

Aunque sabía de las precauciones a tomar durante actividades al aire libre para proteger mi piel de los rayos ultravioletas como usar una gorra de ala ancha, crema protectora y gafas de sol, no estaba consciente de que otros factores medioambientales pueden contribuir a enfermedades cardíacas y agravar la alta presión sanguínea. El exceso de calor y la pobre calidad del aire son los principales factores ambientales que contribuyen a los problemas del corazón. Las temperaturas elevadas pueden empeorar el ozono a nivel terrestre y la calidad del aire. En Puerto Rico, durante el verano, las partículas de polvo del Sahara pueden agravar la situación aún más. De acuerdo al sitio Web del Servicio Nacional Meteorológico de NOAA, la alta temperatura, la humedad y el esfuerzo físico pueden conducir a desórdenes de calor o insolación.

Los golpes de calor ocurren cuando el cuerpo ya no puede mantener el flujo de sangre necesario para suministrar a los órganos vitales ni enviar sangre a la piel para reducir la temperatura del cuerpo. Las señales de insolación o golpes de calor incluyen:

  • Debilidad
  • Dolores de cabeza
  • Falta de aire
  • Náuseas o vómitos
  • Sentirse mareado o desmayarse

Toma al menos unos 30 minutos refrescar el cuerpo una vez que una persona sufre de un golpe de calor. Si no se trata rápidamente, la insolación o golpe de calor puede conducir a serios problemas del corazón. El prevenir el estrés por el calor es sencillo. He aquí unas sugerencias que estoy siguiendo en la actualidad para disfrutar de ejercicios al aire libre sin poner en peligro mi salud en general.

  • Descanse con regularidad—Hago una pausa en intervalos de cinco minutos durante mi carrera de cuatro millas
  • Limite el tiempo de exposición al calor—Hago mis ejercicios al aire libre sea temprano en la mañana o tarde por la tarde
  • Consulte el índice de calidad de aire –Evito los ejercicios cuando la calidad de aire no es buena
  • Usar ropa holgada de colores claros
  • Beber mucho agua

¡Estos pasos sencillos le ayudarán a mantenerse saludable mientras hace ejercicios!

Sobre la autor: Brenda Reyes Tomassini se unió a la EPA en el 2002. Labora como especialista de relaciones públicas en la oficina de EPA en San Juan, Puerto Rico donde también maneja asuntos comunitarios para la División de Protección Ambiental del Caribe.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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