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my electric bill...

...was $320 this month.

I've held of from writing about the weather because can you get a more boring topic? But we had a hot summer! We set a new record here... 50 days over 100 degrees. Seriously I think the whole month of August and most of July was over 100. And not just barely; it seemed to be constantly closer to 110 than 100.

That said, I still feel bad about how much my air conditioning was on, but it's tough because Marc's home during the day so there's not a time when we can just set the timed thermostat to relax a bit. If it was up to me, the house would be hot, like 80, all the time. In fact I think my apartment was always 80. Air conditioning in general tends to be the bane of my existance. I'm always freezing in offices, grocery stores, and restaurants. I'm frequently cold in my own home, which is set at 76... a compromise between Marc and I, but a tricky number because our old house wasn't designed for central air so no matter what it's set at, there's a lot of variation between rooms. When I'm really cold I can go outside, or go upstairs to the yellow guestroom to read, or go in my sewing room and iron something. But it feels silly to be vacationing to warmer climates inside my own house just to survive, especially with the electric bill... I'm paying to freeze myself! Such is life with a family.

My booklist has this on it: Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World by Kansas author Stan Cox. I haven't read the book, because I'm afraid it'll make me feel guilty. But I heard him interviewed. He's like an anti-AC activist. He argues that by running AC all the time, we're increasing our greenhouse emissions and making our climate hotter, shooting ourselves in the foot. We're giving ourselves allergies and decreasing our normal tolerance to heat by staying inside. We're changing the way we interact with each other, never going outside or interacting. There are bad things about AC.

And some of my sister's friends who'd spent time abroad pointed out another fact: we're so stuck in this mindset that we need AC, we've made it socially critical. We judge people for being sweaty or wearing revealing clothing... things that we could just roll with. But as a group, we've opted to not. How would you feel if a neighbor invited you for dinner and you felt uncomfortably hot?

So that's my complex. I hate air conditioning and hate that my electric bill was so much, I feel guilty. But I'm not the one who spends the most time in my house. I spend time in an even colder office... an office so cold that people run space heaters and bundle up in coats and sweaters at the peak of summer. It drives me crazy. I know there's a time and place for AC.

In the Stan Cox interview, he mentioned that when the internet grew popular we all starting asking ourselves how much technology was too much. Could you be too absorbed online, and ignore real life? Could you get addicted? Was it bad for kids? Dangerous? We've never asked ourselves that question about air conditioners... they just crank. I think that's the problem.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
I am the same way. If it were up to me, I'd never have the A/C on and if it were up to my husband, he'd always have it on. And don't get me started on work... I have to wear a sweater all summer.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
I think marc said his old apartment was set at 68! He could live with penguins I swear.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 08:42 am (UTC)
This is how I have to have it in order to sleep. During the -day- it is set at 82. It's on a timer so at 6am it switches up to 82 and the apartment slowly gets warmer. And around 9pm it goes back down to 68 so it will be cool when I need to sleep. And I still wake up drenched in sweat at night. It's gross.

Thankfully my husband also likes it cold to sleep. He would prefer it colder during the day but he's gotten used to it since he hates the high bills. And often we can leave the apartment during the day to run errands, read at starbucks or somewhere, or sit at the lab at school to work. So you don't -have- to deal with the heat if you don't want to (but we usually do).

But I am usually FREEZING when we go out to eat here in Dallas. I think most restaurants set the thermostat at like 50. Seems that way, at least. I am usually shivering during the meal, especially if I am dressed for summer weather, but occasionally even if I'm dressed for fall/spring. I've learned to keep a sweater in my car, even in 110 degree heat.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
I think restaurants are cold because the staff sets the temperature, and they set it to be comfortable for people running around cooking food. If you're just sitting, it's freezing.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:53 am (UTC)
Our air conditioning broke last summer - we have central air and live in Maryland. Rather than have it replaced($$$$), we bought a portable AC for the bedroom. I was worried this summer would be too hot, since we had a lot of 110 degree days also. But I was AMAZED at how I was able to adapt to the heat. It was awful in the beginning of the summer - end of April. But by the middle of July, I wasn't sweating most of the time, and I felt very uncomfortable in air conditioning. I honestly didn't feel hot or overheated, and if my house gets cooler than 80 now I start looking around for a sweater.
I found that I really prefer it with no air conditioning - or only the air conditioner in the bedroom for sleeping.

The thing that I don't get is that many of the same people (here I am mainly speaking of my coworkers) who have their AC set to 65 in the summer crank their heat up to 75 in the winter. How does that even make sense?
Sep. 3rd, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
We kept ours at 78 to 80 this summer, but we had someone living with us that wanted it cooler. I like turning off the air at night and opening up the windows. It's so much better on my sinuses.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
I'm an A/C sort of girl myself but I could see some of his points. Allergies isn't one of them. I'm sure they existed before. My grandma has all sorts of excuses about why she was so sick as a kid. Bottom-line, she's allergic to much of the outdoors and feather pillows. She was MUCH more comfortable as an adult with synthetic pillows and A/C. I'm just not buying that my allergies came from our A/C rather than her genetics.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
I'm conflicted on this. On one side, I hate being cold and agree with most of the points. On the other side... I work for an energy company so the more people use their A/C the more money we make, therefore keeping me (and my husband) employed. I have to say I've really enjoyed the past few days in the 80's here with my A/C off, and am dreading the rest of the weekend in the 90's where I know I'll have to turn it on again.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 3rd, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
I work in PA where power is deregulated, and I specifically work for the part of the company that trades the power and sells it. So how much people use very much effects the wholesale/retail price and profit. But you are correct, the utility does not care nearly as much about how much you use, they make their profit from transmission.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
our AC was always set to 78F and the heater to 60-65F. I think though this year we used the AC a lot more, especially to keep baby cool as we face west. But the temp was 78F and occasionally 80F.

I don't hate the AC. I just feel it should be used moderately. I am now in India, sitting in 90% humidity 100F weather...there's an AC unit in my in-laws bedroom, which I have never seen turned on. We have the fan full blast and I am forever feeling icky and sweaty. Taking a shower also gives a momentary relief but never feel dry. oh what I would do for half an hour AC! ;)
Sep. 3rd, 2011 02:07 pm (UTC)
Ever since I got back from Germany about three weeks ago, I've been having this same dilemma. Granted, it was cooler in Berlin than it is here. But I more or less got used to life without the A/C. There were a few days I really wished I had it, but on the whole, no big deal. Now that I'm back, I find that I'm actually kind of cold in a lot of places. I'm glad my library has A/C, I just wish they wouldn't set it quite so low. At home it's a constant battle because I don't have central air, just these two through-the-wall units. I run them on a fairly low setting for the most part, but will occasionally realize that I'm cold and have been cold for a while.
Sep. 4th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
I detest the cost of using AC, and the longer I can put it off the better (I feel bad for the cats, they become pathetic piles of fur that glare at me from the floor). If it's too hot in the house, I go outside and water the garden or read in the hammock, or pull weeds and take a water-hose shower. Once the AC goes in the only window in my room that opens, I lose heat tolerance and am fairly worthless for yard and garden work for the rest of the summer.
Of course, if I had trees that shaded my house and windows that opened, I could go many more days without AC!
Sep. 4th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC)
you live with some entitled animals!

we have lots of windows that open, but have to balance that out with marc's allergies. We kept them open for a long time but at some point it was getting warmer, and marc swipped his hand across a table and it came up with YELLOW dust, I was like "okay".
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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