When you live in the American South, opening the door and walking outside only to get smacked upside the head by hot, muggy, humid air is a way of life. Memes joke about taking a shower, not toweling off, and putting your clothes on before going about your life — during the dog days of August, that's not far off. My friends in the American Southwest point to their blistering hot days north of 100 degrees with low humidity.
It's a fair rejoinder. The point is this: it's hot. What counts as heat in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest is hilarious to these parts of the country. So when one of those areas of the country starts making noise on what rules everyone needs to follow on indoor, air-conditioned temperature, we take notice in the warmer areas of the country.
To wit, the Biden administration is issuing rules to make key elements of HVAC units more expensive for everyone. A piece in Fox News noted, "The Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) just announced a 40% production cut in 2024 for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the widely used class of refrigerants being targeted for their claimed contribution to climate change. As it is, the modest 10% cut in force today has already caused many HFCs to triple in price, including HFC-410a which is used in most home air conditioners."
What does this mean? Higher repair costs: "As a result, replacing refrigerant lost from a leak has cost millions of homeowners at least $150-$200 more than it used to. But next summer, stricter production quotas will be in effect, likely sending refrigerant costs through the roof — and repair costs with them."
These kinds of policies matter. It's not just environmental idiots like those throwing soup on paintings. Making it harder for people to cool their houses during the hottest parts of the year can cost lives. That's not hyperbole. It's reality.
Air conditioning isn't commonplace in Europe. A study in the scientific journal Nature estimated that 2022's heat wave killed thousands. NPR summed it up: "Heat waves in Europe killed more than 61,000 people — most of them women — last summer, according to an estimate published in the journal Nature on Monday."
The piece also noted, "heat waves are 'extremely deadly' and disproportionately impact vulnerable, isolated and marginalized groups."
Why is the Biden administration shoving America down this same path? Making repair costs more expensive will impact the people Democrats claim to represent: the vulnerable, isolated, and marginalized. Heat stress, exhaustion, and death are real things that people suffer from, even without air conditioning. Making that relief harder to keep is another short-sighted decision that ignores all side effects of top-down policymaking.
The Biden administration has solutions to this. Government agencies offer up this advice: "According to the government affiliated Energy Star program, you should keep your home at 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5°C) while at home, 82 degrees (27°C) when asleep and 85 (29.4°C) degrees when away."
Here's the biggest irony in that recommendation. OSHA recommends the opposite: "The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes that a comfortable temperature differs person to person. Therefore, OSHA does not regulate workplace temperature, but OSHA does recommend that employers keep the thermostat set between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. OSHA will step in if temperatures are so severe that employees are risking their health."
OSHA says that 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the top recommended range, and the environmentalists say that's the floor. No one is talking to each other. We get empty platitudes about what works best from people who have no idea what they're talking about.
Here's my solution: if the Biden administration believes this, let's get official records on what the thermostat is set at in the White House, Congress, and all agency buildings. In the middle of a hot, humid August day, let's have the daily White House press briefings set at around 80 degrees indoors. Let's force all these Democratic lawmakers to lead by example by keeping their offices warmer in the summer.
If these so-called experts believe what they preach, it's time to crank up the thermostats in all federal buildings and see how they like it. We should also ask for some honesty from the press: if Americans find it harder to repair HVAC units next year and we get more reports of heat exhaustion, stress, or even deaths, let's be honest about the cause. You can blame climate change — but if people can't afford repair costs, that matters too.
If you've lived in the South for any time at all, you know of stories where people had to band together to help out an elderly household whose HVAC unit went out at a bad time. It's essential to save them from the heat.
Summer heat is no joke in the South — climate change or not. The Biden administration is making it harder on everyone while making no changes themselves. Heat is serious, and you can't have your cake and eat it too. Crank up the thermostats in federal buildings. Let's see how many people believe this, or just like their names on grandiose reports.
The previous Democrat was a hypocrite on this issue, and I'm not holding my breath on this one.