Dear Dr. Mahler:
Why is my breathing worse with hot and humid weather? Is there any positive justification for home air conditioning for COPD patients? I am considering AC and if justified, I may be able to deduct some of the cost from my taxes.
Martha from Ridgewood, NJ
Answer from Dr. Mahler
The air that we breathe feels “heavy” when the weather is hot and humid. With these conditions, there is little air movement. Pollutants such as ozone and fine particulate matter are trapped in the air along with possible pollen from grass, trees, and ragweed. Inhaling pollutants and pollen can irritate your breathing tubes (airways) and cause constriction, or tightening, of the muscle that surrounds your breathing tubes. These factors make it harder for you to breathe.
An air conditioner can certainly provide relief from these conditions. It blows cool air into your house or apartment by pulling heat out of that air. An air conditioner also reduces excess humidity, provides constant air movement, and removes micro-organisms and dust from the air.
If you buy an air conditioner, make sure that the filter is cleaned as recommended by the manufacturer. Also, plan to do outdoor activities early or late in the day to avoid peak weather conditions.
I don’t know whether you can deduct any of the cost of the air conditioner from your taxes. According to IRS tax tip 2013-48, you may be able to deduct the cost of a qualified air conditioning system as a non-business energy property credit. This credit has a lifetime limit of $500. The tax tip stated that the credit expired at the end of 2013.
You may wish to consult with a tax expert.
Donald A. Mahler, M.D.
Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.