Ah, at last. The “dog days of summer” are soon upon us.

For the record, this period traditionally begins July 3 and ends approximately August 15 — give or take a few hot, sticky days before and thereafter. And, for the record, the ancient Romans are responsible for the term “dog days.”

Be it folklore, truth, or somewhere in between, the ancient Romans noted that the brightest star in the night sky — Sirius — appeared annually at the onset of hot, sultry weather. Sirius, which stems from the Greek word for “scorcher,” became known as the Dog Star, and the weather it heralded was called “dog days.”

Believing that that star caused the miserable weather, the ancient Romans sacrificed brown dogs to appease the rage of Sirius. (Don’t ask me why the dogs had to be brown. I can’t seem to find that answer.)

Of course, today we have an abundance of science to explain misnomers like “dog days.” We now know that the “aphelion” is an annual inevitability. Each year, around July 3, the earth’s Northern Hemisphere reaches its farthest point from the sun, approximately 94,510,000 miles. That point — the aphelion — ironically begins the hottest and stickiest days of the year.

Most contractors have another name for this time of year. It’s called “The Busiest.”


While the Romans were forced to flee to their seaside villas, a shady afternoon at the local circus, or a dip at the local baths to cool off, we have air conditioning. And, that translates into a career and livelihood for most of you.

When it’s time to celebrate America’s independence this week, why not boast a little bit by the barbecue grill? Go ahead and tell your friends over for the Fourth of July holiday that air conditioning changed this country.

It has, hasn’t it?

Central air conditioning equipment has brought many benefits to our society, becoming an important part of modern lifestyles in many areas throughout the world. Air conditioning not only improves our personal comfort, but it is an absolute necessity for many medical treatments and drug storage, it expands the safety and choices of our food supply, and it helps improve our productivity by providing us with a better working environment.

Today, we consider air conditioning a necessity in our working and personal lives.


During these “dog days,” contractors should also let every customer know that appreciating — or caring for — air conditioners or heat pumps can save them money. Caulking, pulling drapes in the summer, using automatic thermostats, and having periodic maintenance inspections are just a few ways customers can keep cool and save money.

For the record, ARI has the answers to 42 questions consumers most often ask about central indoor comfort systems. This is good material to have in a technician’s truck, so it can be given to inquisitive customers. (And homeowners will thank you for giving them the information. Trust me.)

Go ahead and send a self-addressed stamped business envelope to ARI (4100 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 200, Arlington, VA 22203) and ask for a free copy of How To Keep Your Cool And Save Cold Cash. You can also order copies from ARI’s website at www.ari.org.

Among the solid advice ARI provides:

  • Clean and replace the air conditioner’s filter frequently (monthly during heavy use).

  • Central air conditioners and heat pumps should have annual equipment inspections by a trained technician who will check refrigerant fluid and mechanical operations.

  • Consider use of a programmable thermostat to automatically increase or decrease temperatures during the day or night to suit a family’s lifestyle and reduce energy cost.

    Passing on such suggestions to consumers could produce more summer business. And, in these upcoming “dog days,” that’s something to howl about.

    Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); markskaer@achrnews.com (e-mail).

    Publication date: 07/01/2002