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Blogs from June, 2024

How Parasols and Umbrellas Help You – and Your AC - Beat the Heat!

A father and 2 kids under umbrellas while walking

Man with 2 kids walking under parasols and umbrellas

Practical Parasols. Useful Umbrellas. 

In a warming world where the temperatures are getting hotter and hotter each year, it’s good to have secret weapons against the heat. One of the best, and often underutilized ways to stay cool is to use a parasol or umbrella. 

A parasol is a specialized type of umbrella designed explicitly to provide shade from the sun. Unlike its rainy counterpart, the parasol’s primary mission is to shield us from the scorching heat. It’s not as heavy as an umbrella, and it’s not waterproof. It’s sole purpose is to keep the sun off your head, face, neck, and shoulders. 

Parasols were in use several thousand years before the umbrella was adopted, and they have a surprising history.  

Parasols aren’t only for women:  

Shocking! 

Portable sun shades, "parasols," were originally created for men.  

Think about all those pictures of ancient kingly processions where the servants held parasols over the head of the reigning man.  

It was a masculine privilege to be shielded from the sun, a sign of power.  

At the time, parasols were worthy of strength and masculinity. A servant protected the head of the leader with a parasol, shielding him against the heat and light of day.  

Men used parasols to beat the heat 

In ancient Mesopotamia, Babylonian kings and Persian monarchs enjoyed the privilege of shade provided by parasols on their chariots. These parasols were carried by sturdy male attendants, ensuring protection for the rulers.  

In ancient Greece, noblewomen carried parasols as fashion accessories, setting a trend for men. Men transitioned from carrying swords to spears and eventually to parasols. Vase iconography captures this fascinating shift in male adornment.  

In the mid-1700s, a practical-minded man named Jonas Hanway unfurled the first umbrella on the streets of London, opening the way for widespread use of umbrellas as protection from the weather. Hanway had seen his first parasol in the East, and then he had witnessed how the French adapted the parasol for use in the rain. The French even rented sun-brellas on either end of Pont Neuf, the long bridge over the River Seine in Paris, so people could use them while walking across.  

Do you know what the French called those early umbrellas?  

They were known as “Les Robinsons” after the contraption covered in goatskin in the then-popular novel, Robinson Crusoe. Crusoe affirmed his device was 

 “a most useful thing to me, as well for the rains as the heats. 

Another fearless adventure, William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was a fair-skinned, red-headed man. What did he take on his legendary, more than a two-year exploration of the American West?  

A parasol!  

Sadly, Clark’s parasol fell victim to a Montana hailstorm and was lost along with his compass and tomahawk in 1805.  

Parasols turned “pretty” 

By the middle of the 19th century, parasols became a fashion accessory for the best-dressed women. Pretty and practical, a parasol looked good and served the purpose of keeping the skin pale and unblemished. Parasols also shielded women from the “knowing glances of men.”  

Men no longer carried parasols because they were seen as female fashion accessories.   

The turning point for parasols came in the 1920s when even women stopped carrying them.  

Parasols went OUT of fashion because some doctors began prescribing exposure to the sun as a way to get healthy. Being tan was a GOOD thing instead of a taboo. Coco Chanel quipped that tans were “the index of chic.”   

Why we need parasols and umbrellas NOW 

When parasols and umbrellas were coming into their own, the world was a different place.  

A hundred years ago, the average temperature in New York’s Central Park was 71 degrees. Today, the average temperature is more than 78 degrees. All predictions are that the weather gets warmer and warmer every year. Month after month, cities are breaking heat records.  

Just standing in the sun affects your temperature. On a clear day out in the sun, you’ll feel 15 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature.  

Yes, you can use sunscreen, but that’s pricy, oily, and requires careful planning before going outside. Hats are also an option to beat the heat, but few hats keep the sun off of your forehead, your neck, your nose, and your shoulders all at the same time.  

Parasols do.  

Studies show that using a parasol lowers the temperature underneath by 5 to 11 degrees!  

How parasols and umbrellas help your ac beat the heat 

For several years, homeowners have been debating this question. Do you save money if you put a sunshade over your outside air conditioning unit.  

Some experts say no. That sun shades don’t help.  

However, many homeowners and agencies say that it CAN help shelter your AC from intense heat of the sun, thereby keeping it from working so hard.  

If scientific studies show that the temp under a sunshade can be 5 to 11 degrees cooler than outside of the shade, wouldn’t it make sense that your air conditioner will be more comfortable in the shade, not working so hard and using so much energy?  

Sunshades only work, however, if there is plenty of room for circulation between the cover and the unit.  

One gentleman in a Texas heatstorm put a simple four posted cover over his unit. He swore that the inside temperature went from 88 to 75 within hours just by erecting the shade tent.  

A perfect parasol parable!  

facebook post by a man who put sun tent over his outside ac unit

Even better than parasols and umbrellas... 

While parasols and umbrellas are great tools to help us beat the heat, the best way to keep your home cool and comfortable is to call ServiceOne. Sign up for our ClubOne Membership and guarantee your two Precision Tune-ups each year. We’ll make sure your air conditioning is working at maximum efficiency in any kind of weather.  

We’ll cheer you on when you parade your parasol or use your umbrella to stay cool outside, and we’ll make sure it’s comfortable inside your home whether or not your outside unit flaunts a sunshade!   

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