News & Politics

Stop the War on Air Conditioning!

Photo by Joanna Poe

Is there a war on your beloved AC? Sure seems that way. The most recent assault appeared in the pages of the Washington Post, with the title “I Don’t Need Air Conditioning and Neither Do You” that absolutely drips with condensation (ha!):

There are people among you, friends even, who live without artificial cooling during what are affectionately known as the dog days of summer. One-third of American households don’t have air conditioning, according to the Energy Department. Many of those, of course, can’t afford it, but people don’t like AC for a variety of reasons beyond cost: environmental, aesthetic, nostalgic, social and cultural.

And, yes, to humble-brag, which I may be doing right now, about our greater tolerance, lower carbon footprint and puny electric bills, which are half the temperature outside.

Clinical social worker Olivia Snyder lives on the fifth floor of a Philadelphia apartment building with southern exposure and no air conditioning. It gets so hot, she says, “I don’t want to turn on the burners, let alone the oven.”

But window units offend her. “Air conditioners are ugly. I really like the view,” she says. Also, “I hate sleeping with the noise. I’m super-weird about noise.”

Allow me to kindly invite the author of this piece, Karen Heller, and anyone else who pretentiously preaches about how none of us need air conditioning to spend next summer in Georgia.

Heller lives in Washington, D.C. Her social worker lives in Philadelphia. Both of those are far north — and therefore cooler — of my home in Southwest Georgia, where a summer day in the low 90s is called a “cool wave,” and the humidity exceeds what most folks in this country can comprehend.

We love our air conditioning.

Of course, Heller presents one person from a warm weather environment who gave up AC for a year … in Arizona. I’ve been there. Shade in Arizona is measurably cooler, because there’s no humidity (or whatever the mechanism is that makes the shade in this part of the world little more than a way to keep the sun off of you, and nothing else). Hardly the same thing.

Heller’s work isn’t the only example of an assault on AC, either. New York Magazine made their own case, as did Lifehacker. Other news outlets picked up Heller’s piece and spread it far and wide.

Ironically, a story on CBC argues for mandatory air conditioning during heat waves. Frankly, the CBC has a much better case about safety than Heller and her compatriots do. For example, thousands died in France during a heat wave in 2003 — a lack of air conditioning was the reason.

No one is dying from using AC. No one ever will.

Heller and her ilk want to virtue-signal about how awesome they are, paint those of us who prefer our AC as backward (ironic, considering the deadly effect her argument has on the poor), and pretend they’re superior.

However, it’s past time that this war on air conditioning comes to an end. “Big city” Yankees telling Southerners to give up their AC won’t do anything down here except get them laughed at.