Do you remember what seemed at the moment to be the most worthless class you ever took? It may have been the last class you wanted to take but had no choice. Eventually, that class may have made sense in life.

A good example is in 1993 Fred Bauer wrote an article for Reader’s Digest called The Most Worthless Class I Ever Took. Fred Bauer enrolled in an Ornithology class at Bowling Green State University as an easy way to get some college credits for his major. Little did he know through bird watching he would learn a new appreciation for birds. He shared that passion with his children and grandchildren, which provided something special to share with them. It turned out to be a valuable class.

Years ago I took a Statistics class at Doane College that threatened to be the most worthless class I ever took and the most challenging. It turned out to be interesting and I surprisingly received an A+. I learned the value of bell curves and interpreting statistics.

Statistics can be used in so many different ways. For instance, health statistics tell us if we do certain things the probability increases for specific results. Statistics broken down further can show patterns of diseases in groups of people and associated risks. Knowing the risks can benefit us.

Health-related statistics are often directly affected by things like pollen counts. People with pollen-associated allergies should be interested to know pollen counts in our community this week were in the medium to high range around 7.7 on a scale of 7.3 to 9.6. Our community has pollen challenges, but we are lucky compared to Kansas City which ranks third in the worst cities for allergies with a ragweed sensitization rate of 24.1.

Knowing the risks of high levels of pollen counts can lead people to improve their air filtration systems. A good example is a heating and air conditioning standard fiberglass air filter that removes approximately 40% of air impurities. Lungs remove what is left. The Trane CleanEffects air filtration systems remove 99.97% of air impurities. Air filtration statistics are important to those wanting to understand their allergies better.

Facts and figures regarding dehumidification should eliminate the use of portable dehumidifiers since they can cost $30 a month in electricity to operate and there are no cooling benefits. The heat of the compressor in portable units increases the heat load at a time cooling is needed. That is wasted energy.

A properly designed cooling system will remove humidity much better. The American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends 40% to 55% relative humidity in homes or offices depending on the time of year and outside temperatures. Lower humidity in the cooling season improves comfort.
Statistics can make sense to provide a greener environment. If Americans replaced inefficient water heaters with energy-efficient water heaters we could save the equivalent emissions of 25.7 million cars, the energy of 12.4 million homes, or 30.2 coal-fired power plants. That’s a huge statistic!

The average standard natural gas water has an efficiency rating of 56%. In contrast, an A.O. Smith Vertex 100 Power Vent produces 164 gallons in the first hour and has a 96% thermal efficiency. Why not improve efficiency and have continuous hot water?

Water statistics are becoming more interesting every day. Lincoln has great drinking water but almost 1 billion people lack access to a good supply of water. There are two million annual deaths attributed to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene. More than 50 countries have cholera issues. We are blessed!

There is a myriad of other statistics, facts, and figures such as:

  • The last of 50 warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning may be death.
  • Off gassing of over 2,000 chemicals invented annually since World War II affects our health.
  • Approximately 51% of energy used in homes is for heating and cooling.
  • The average furnace runs the equivalent of a car running 90,000 miles per year.

Statistics can also keep us safe. It’s important to know risks and deal only with people we trust. Lincoln is a small community that tends to support local businesses. We somehow know which businesses are trustworthy. When in doubt call the Better Business Bureau because they track honesty.

I never took a worthless class. Life gives us unique opportunities to learn every day. The true value is when we take that knowledge and use it.

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