Author Archives: James Van Der Haal

The Best Portable Air Conditioners for Dorm Rooms, Apartments and More

If your summer temperatures get exceedingly hot, with or without matching humidity, an air conditioner can be more necessary than nice.  While most newer residential buildings have adequate air conditioning, some older ones don’t.  If you’re a renter in such a building or a student in a dorm without proper AC, there are some portable options that can make life a little more comfortable.

When looking for a portable air conditioner, you need to understand how dehumidification works.  Air conditioners draw in air from your room, remove moisture from that air, cool the air, and then send it back out.  If you live in an area where the humidity numbers can get as high as the temperature, dehumidification is much more crucial than if you live in a drier area.  Since all ACs are designed to dehumidify, you won’t find models designed specifically for drier vs humid climates.  Instead, you’ll just want to understand how well different units do that job.  If you live in a dry climate, you won’t need to spend extra money on an air conditioner just because of its superior dehumidification.  On the other hand, if you live somewhere very humid, not finding a unit that’s excellent at dehumidifying will probably leave you feeling hot under the collar.

When it comes to determining how much cooling power you need, it won’t necessarily be as easy as how many square feet you want to cool.  A room with higher ceilings will require more cooling power, as will a room that gets a lot of direct sunlight through older, non-energy-efficient windows.  If you’re on an upper floor (or the only floor) of a building without great insulation, via insulation in the attic or an energy efficient roof, you’ll have a harder time keeping the room cool.  Most AC units will rate cooling power in tons.  A ton of cooling power actually goes back to the days when blocks of ice were used to cool rooms and refers to how much cooling an actual ton of ice could do in 24 hours.  Most units, thankfully, also give you a good estimate of the square footage a unit can handle, but, as mentioned above, how hard your unit will have to work will depend on other factors than square footage.  A reputable dealer can help you choose a unit that meets your needs well without spending more than you need to.

The most popular portable air conditioners are still window units.  As the name suggests, these models are designed to be mounted in an open window.  If you opt for one of these models, make sure you measure the window opening before you shop.  Bringing home a new AC only to find that it’s too big for its allotted space is not a fun way to spend the day.  If you need to go with a model that’s smaller than your opening, be sure to buy appropriate gap fillers, too.  If you’re a renter or student in a dorm, make sure you know what your “legal” options are for these gap fillers.  There are now some portable units available that sit on the floor rather than mount in a window.  This type of model might be more appropriate for you if you’re concerned about the safety or security of a window unit.  The important thing to remember is that any air conditioner will need to vent to the outside in some way.  The heat being removed from the air has to have someplace to go.  All air conditioners will also have a drain pan or other collection device for the moisture removed from the air.  Some models require an outlet for this condensation, but others can contain different amounts of water in a receptacle inside the unit; this receptacle will need to be emptied when it gets full (how often it fills up will depend on how humid your air is).  Make sure you know how any model you consider handles exhaust and condensation.


Finding a unit with a programmable thermostat can help you get the most for your money without spending money cooling your room while you’re away. View this for the best portable air conditioner online.

Did You Know There Are Health Benefits to Board Games?

Many of us remember playing board games as kids, and some of us are lucky enough to have families that still enjoy playing board games when we all get together.  Board games are a great way to gather everyone together for good natured competition, fun, and all-around quality time.  Many of today’s board games are also great for more than a few laughs.  In addition to these benefits, there are also some actual health benefits to playing board games.  These benefits can extend to players of all ages and are one more reason to bring game night back!

The emotional side

It’s long been said that “Laughter is the best medicine,” and board games can certainly generate laughter (I wish I could show you some of my Pictionary drawings as proof!).  Laughter is a great stress reliever, and a little fun can always cure, or at least temporarily set aside, most of what ails you.

Far too often, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for families to sit down together and just enjoy each other’s company.  Households are busier than ever, and family gatherings too often tend to see too many people gathered around a TV or debating issues of the day.  Sitting around the kitchen table to play a game brings everyone together like few other things can.  For small children, playing board games is a great way to teach fair play, gracious winning and losing, and how great it feels to be surrounded by the people who mean the most to you.

Getting into a board game with family or friends can be a great way to relax and let go of some of the stress that too many of us carry around needlessly.  Having something else to focus on for a bit may eliminate some stress altogether, or it may just give our minds the break we need to come back later and take a fresh look at whatever’s bothering us.

The mental side

Board games can be a great way for kids to develop and improve problem solving skills, memory, and cognitive associations.  These skills are important for all of us, and an increasing number of studies suggest that the elderly may benefit from such activities as much as children do since there is increasing evidence that the cognitive skills fall into the category of “use it or lose it” and that the seniors who stay the sharpest are those who stay the busiest, mentally and physically.

In addition, playing certain board games can help us remember to think outside the box and remind us that getting to the finish line may involve setbacks that we’ll have to overcome.  Patience and perseverance are skills that all kids need to learn, too, so why not teach them while enjoying a game of Candyland?

The physical side

For young children, the elderly, those recovering from some kinds of accidents or surgery, and people with certain physical disabilities, playing board games can help to develop, maintain, or recover fine motor skills in a way that offers a fun alternative or adjunct to physical or occupational therapy.

In the end, board games are a great way to spend quality time with family and teach (or remember) what it means to come together in a spirit of competition, cooperation, and genuine camaraderie.  Even if your little brother still insists on doing that obnoxious “Sorry!” dance.