It’s late May and temperatures are finally rising in Philadelphia. When the hot water in the shower feels too hot, it’s time for me to head down to the basement to lower the water temperature on my water heater.
In the US, most people have a tank full of hot water, always at the ready, often at 140˚F, sometimes lowered to 120˚F. It’s not because people like their showers so hot, but likely to keep bacteria from growing inside the water tanks.
Well, I have a tankless electric water heater. Basically, hot water on demand! Much like when I was a child in Mumbai, where these tankless water heaters are called ‘geysers’. And I like it set at 116˚F all thru the winter, finding it an optimal temp for showers, with no need to mix in any cold water.
Now that the days are warming up, I find the same setting too warm. So, instead of mixing in cold water, I trotted down to the basement, and lowered the setting to 101˚F, as I did last summer. I know at some point during the summer, I’ll be ready for cold showers!
Of note is that this morning, when I checked my phone for the weather in the Indian town I was born in, the heat index showed it would rise to 116˚F; the same setting as my too-hot shower.
In the opening chapter of the cli-fi Ministry of the Future, a heat wave killed 20 million people in India, and I learned about wet bulb temperatures; basically heat plus humidity makes us feel much hotter. In the book, many people went and stood in a nearby lake to stay cool. It was said they got poached.
Now I say to all Indians living outside India, whether you consider yourself a non-resident Indian (NRI) or a desi — it’s not them, it’s our people, it’s us — getting cooked.
I’ve lowered my water temperature, and powered my water heater with solar panels. What else can I do? What else can we do?