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New air conditioner standard
The controversial air conditioning standard known as 13 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) went into effect in January after a prolonged battle between regulators and the air conditioning industry.

According to the federal agency, the new standard would increase energy efficiency of new air conditioning units by 30 percent.

The current standard is 10 SEER. Industry representatives, including electric utilities, had supported an increase to 12 SEER, or a 20 percent increase in efficiency, which would have promoted energy conservation while remaining economically justifiable for consumers. The new, higher standard will be mean that consumers will need to plan on paying substantially more for new air conditioners.

“The 13 SEER standard does indeed save energy,” says John Holt, manager of transportation and fuels for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, “but it may not necessarily save the consumer much money.”

Holt says that typical air conditioners that comply with the 13 SEER would be more expensive, about $335 more than today’s average price, and that the added expense of a new air conditioner would be repaid in about 10 years.

“A lower standard, such as SEER 12, would have increased energy efficiency and the payback time would have been sooner,” Holt says.

Guest Opinion
How to strengthen democracy

by Trey Grayson
Civic literacy and engagement are essential to the success of a democratic government. In a country that was established “for the people and by the people,” citizens’ knowledge of and involvement in the legislative and electoral processes undergirds the foundation of our society.

Yet in the last 40 years, there has been a continual decline in the involvement of American citizens in the election of our government representatives and in the lawmaking process. Surely, this is not the picture our forefathers dreamed of so many years ago.

It is time that we reverse these trends. It is important to realize that this change requires a fundamental shift for many citizens in our society, and for that reason, it will take time for this evolution to occur.

Highlighting the problem is relatively easy. But finding an effective solution is more challenging. Currently, efforts are being made to study civic engagement within the Commonwealth through the Civic Literacy Initiative of Kentucky (CLIK), a multi-year effort to enhance civic engagement and civic literacy within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Over the last two years, the CLIK released Rediscovering Democracy: A Report on the Kentucky Summit on Civic Literacy; partnered with KET and the Center for Civic Education to produce a professional development video on Project Citizen; led the effort to form the Southern Coalition for Civic Literacy and Engagement; and held two statewide summits and 11 regional meetings.

Based on the data collected through the regional meetings and the two statewide summits, the CLIK developed multiple recommendations for improving civic literacy and civic engagement in the Commonwealth.

These recommendations include:

  • establishing the Kentucky Center for Civic Excellence;
  • implementing a pilot study of a high school government and civics course that integrates both civic literacy and civic engagement at the local, state, and federal level;
  • offering an annual teacher academy in the area of government and civics; and
  • increasing the current social studies CATS Blueprint to strengthen the degree to which government and civics is assessed by 5 percent.

A complete report of the recommendations will be made to the General Assembly and all Kentuckians in the near future.

We need the support of all Kentuckians to reverse the decline of civic engagement in our communities. Please join us in our efforts to build a stronger society for our Commonwealth’s future. Visit our Web site at

Trey Grayson is the Kentucky Secretary of State

B-ball books
Put King Kelly Coleman, Kentucky’s Greatest Basketball Legend at the top of your March Madness reading companions. It’s not just a story of an amazing athlete who set a slew of high-school basketball records in the mid-1950s. It’s also the story of how a promising career can take a turn away from national fame, and of a small, eastern Kentucky coal-mining community and how it remembers its heroes. Written by Gary P. West, who writes occasionally for Kentucky Living, the book includes several photographs and is published by Steward & Wise Publishing of Morley, Missouri.

You might also curl up with Wildcat Madness, Great Eras in Kentucky Basketball by Wilton Sharpe and published by Cumberland House Publishing, Nashville. This book tells the history of UK basketball through a collection of brief quotations by players, coaches, fans, opponents, and the media.

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