I Feel Bad About My Air Conditioner

How was your Fourth?

Most of my day was spent hiding from the heat by staying in my apartment, catching up on correspondence, and watching the latest episode of Louie. I stayed cool by sitting in my apartment in my shorts and drinking ice coffee I cold-brewed, because I feel bad every time I turn on my air conditioner. I think about all that energy that little box uses, and about what might appear on my utility bill next month. I’m sure if I had a pet or a baby I didn’t want to melt, I’d blast that thing all day, but I’m sure there are other people out there who feel the same way.

I did turn it on when Logan dropped by in the evening before we headed to the pier to watch Fireworks. I spent $18 for two Cokes with ice, two orders of Old Bay french fries, and a hot dog. We watched the fireworks for five minutes, and then decided we couldn’t handle the crowd anymore and headed home, covered in sweat. Confession: I turned on the air conditioner when I got home, but I still felt bad about it.

Photo: Shutterstock/Winchan Kongchan

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38 Comments / Post A Comment

Spinach Party (#253)

Weeeeeeeird. I also spent the day watching Louie (on Netflix), sitting in front of my fan and not turning my air conditioner on…. My electricity bill has been 25 bucks and I want to keep it that way (20 bucks is just the “delivery service fee”).

Also, I’ve been super lucky and my apartment hasn’t gotten over 85 degrees. 85-90 degrees is my breaking point.

Ahhh I am the same way–I try to suffer through with wet bandannas and fans blowing on me and 10 million freeze pops, because I hate not knowing what to expect from my utility bill.

Oh Mike. If you weren’t such a lovely person I’d be saying REALLY MEAN THINGS right now, because my FUCKING POWER IS STILL OUT and after yesterday all I want to do is basically sit directly in front a blasting AC vent for about a year.

Mike Dang (#2)

@stuffisthings Love you!

Mike Dang (#2)

Also, I should mention that I get a blast of cold air every time I open my front door because everyone else in my building has their AC units on, which keeps the building generally cool. I’d just leave my front door open if that wasn’t weird.

missmatched (#1,494)

@Mike Dang Last summer I did this when my air went out. The hallway is so cool I propped open the door and stuck a fan blowing into my apartment. I am sure management would have been pissed, but I was boiling!

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@stuffisthings My power just came on last night after being out since Friday, so my tiny window AC is pretty much my best friend right now. I will never take electricity for granted again!

selenana (#673)

@Mike Dang You should totally leave your door open! I don’t think it’s weird. Block party in your hall! Are your neighbors sketchy? Maybe you could install a screen door. So what if your door opens to a hallway? A small concession to privacy.

omgkitties (#206)

@Mike Dang I considered it a little sketch that some units in my building have security doors – including the one I moved into. I’d planned to remove it (safe enough building) but then discovered the joy of hallway breezes. I second the screen door suggestion!

I haven’t used my air conditioner once so far this summer, because I don’t trust that ConEd bill, and it was all right at first, but now it’s starting to get tough. Multiple showers per day, spooning an ice pack in my sleep, etc. Oooooooooof.

janestreet (#1,123)

So, my ConEd bill used to be like…200 bucks a month for running my air conditioner almost never. And then that old AC broke and my landlord bought me another one (that cost almost 900! AHHH I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT but it’s a in the wall one, so it has to be a certain size) and now my ConEd bill is like 150 dollars in the summer for running my air conditioner NONSTOP. That is a lot of money but having come from the misery of the old air conditioner, it seems like a bargain. It’s not. I should go turn it up from 73 degrees, shouldn’t I? But mostly, moral of the story: energy saving air conditioners really are the shit.

RosemaryF (#345)

I feel bad about the cost of my air conditioner, too. But I live in Texas where survival demands the use of one, so I just keep it in the high 70s when I’m at home. (Mid 80s when I’m not at home.) The worst electric bill was when I shared a giant turn-of-the-century house with ZERO insulation and we had a $650 electric bill. Now that I live alone, I can generally keep it around $125 during the hottest part of the summer.

ThatJenn (#916)

I felt bad about using an air conditioner until I moved to Florida. This place is unlivable without it (really: check population maps before and after it was invented). I compromise by keeping my AC at 78-80. (You would still blanch at my utility bills, probably even now, after I replaced my whole heating & air system for over $10k… sigh.)

@Jenn@twitter Yeah it’s crazy, in the South they keep places SO COLD. My mom lives in central Florida and she has to bring a sweater to work even when it’s 99 degrees outside.

ThatJenn (#916)

@stuffisthings Yeah, my workplace is like that, too. I have a sweater that lives at work and I usually bring one to meetings or to the movie theater.

guenna77 (#856)

if you like being warm, or if you really really do care that much about the extra money on your electric bill then fine, don’t use your AC. but please, for the love of god, don’t keep it off because you “feel bad”. who do you even feel bad for? are you jsut feeling “guilty” that people had no power but you did? when there are people out there wishing to god that they had power and could not be smothered by 100 degree heat, it’s pretty condescending to be like “i feel guilty, i will choose to sit in the heat,” as if that helps anyone.

Spinach Party (#253)

@guenna77 I’m one of those people who like to be warm. I spent 9 or so hours trapped in a freezing office, wearing sweaters winter, spring, summer and fall. There is one tiny, permanently sealed porthole to the outside world. It’s suffocating.

When I get home I just love having my windows open, and hearing leaves rustle and birds chirp and hanging around half-naked. It’s nice not having constant goose-bumps and I like feel less like a ghostly skeleton with a bit of flush in my skin.
Maybe I’ve built a high tolerance after spending 5 years without AC. And again, I’ve been lucky that my new apartment stays relatively cool despite the heat wave. If I start feeling like death after the temp hits 90 inside, I will absolutely take advantage of my new AC and I won’t feel a bit guilty :-).

Spinach Party (#253)

@Spinach Party Actually, I think the main reason that I don’t need to turn the AC on is that I live alone at the moment and do not have to share a tiny bed with someone who just RADIATES crazy amounts of heat- that is insanely helpful. Other humans are so hot!

tn (#488)

@guenna77 He explained it right in the post that he “feels bad” about the money he thinks he’s wasting by using the air conditioner instead of keeping cool in ways that use less energy and equate to lower energy bills. Nothing in this posts talks about feeling guilty because he has access to an AC and other people do not?

Still though, Mike, I don’t know if this will make you feel less bad or make you more neurotic about AC use, but you already bought that AC, or if you didn’t, then your landlord did and is figuring your ability to enjoy that into the cost of your rent, so you should at least get your money’s worth on that end and use it maybe some of the time?

homotextual (#897)

@guenna77 yes. this. i have been barely surviving the heat and my long distance boyfriend just came for a week visit and it completely disrupted my already fragile temperature-scape. unfortunately no a/c backup and mosquito problems so bad all windows have to be closed. absolute hell. we somehow did not break up.

guenna77 (#856)

@tn – but “guilty” isn’t usually a feeling one uses to describe one’s utility bill unless one has actually wasted the power. and so if he feels like he’s “wasting” power by using his AC, that the money on his bill would constitute an extranvagance, then the point stands.

tn (#488)

@guenna77 I agreed with you that he feels he’s wasting power, but because there are other ways he listed that he can stay cool without using the AC. I didn’t agree with your imagined point that he thinks he’s wasting it because of all the people who didn’t have power.

thecoffeestain (#1,483)

I totally get that sentiment, Mike. I only run the AC in my room when I first get home from work. Once the room gets to a nice temperature (takes about 10 minutes) I turn it off and enjoy the newly chilled room, which tends to last a few hours. It makes living/breathing easier and also appeases my green leanings.

kellyography (#250)

I also feel kind of bad about my air conditioner, but my roommates certainly don’t. I actually had to write an email to tell them to keep the thermostat above 70 degrees while I was away last week, because in the past, they have literally turned it down to 64 and kept it running all day. I do not want to imagine what our June bill will look like. Also, Con Ed sounds like a ripoff. PSE&G is pricey but a regular central air/heating bill is about $150 for our two-story, four-bedroom row house if I keep good tabs on the thermostats.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

I don’t feel bad about using my AC. There is absolutely no breeze in my bedroom, it’s hot as hell out, and I bought my very first AC unit this year because I have a “real job” finally and damnit, I have earned my AC. I did most of my summers sans AC up until now- sleepaway camp or broke- and I turn on my AC whenever I’m in my room. It’s on the energy saver settings, so it cycles on and off, and I use a timer setting at night so that once I’m asleep it shuts off. But other than that? No feeling bad allowed. Just feeling cool and comfy.

lrodrigue (#1,315)

I feel real bad about using my A/C. it’s like every weird ticking humming sound that comes out of it is an extra 50 cents added to my electric bill, and an extra 1% shitshow added to the environment. BUT I LOVE BLANKETS & SLEEP TOO MUCH.

dotcommie (#662)

i do not feel bad at. all. heat index is hitting 115 in chicago today, shit’s getting REAL. and we only have 1 small window unit for our 4-room apartment, so it never really gets that cool. i’m guessing it’s around 80? plus i have 2 guinea pigs who have to wear fur coats year round, poor guys.

mishaps (#65)

Things to know about your air conditioner!

1. If you have an old one, and you live in New York, go buy a new one – it will save money in the long run (see @Janestreet’s story above if you don’t believe me!), plus ConEd will kick in $25 bucks if you send them proof of purchase. Your retailer may even have the forms on hand to help close the sale. People in other states, you may have a similar deal too. Use the “energy-save” mode, which keeps the air conditioner from cycling when the room is at your desired temp, to save a few extra bucks on the electricity, though I you may find it’s louder than the standard.

2. EnergyStar recommends setting your A/C at 78 degrees. To people who are used to the super-over-cooled workspaces of today, where you need a sweater in mid-summer, this sounds REALLY way too high, but I can testify as a former skeptic that if your AC has the right BTU levels, it really really is not. If you have central A/C (luuuuxury!) you should set it to turn on only when the house is over 84 degrees while you’re gone. Remember, one of the major benefits of air conditioning is the de-humidifying, which you get at any temperature, and every degree of temperature you lower the A/C by is an additional 1-2% expense.

3. Fans, fans, fans. Even if you have an A/C, get some fans. Ceiling fans, if you are an owner or a long-term renter, are the bomb, and are good enough now to really cut down on expensive A/C needs. I remain a big fan of what an older Englishwoman taught me as “Jamaican air-conditioning”: a cool shower before bed, and a fan running in the bedroom. Got me through some awful poverty-stricken A/C summers (though admittedly in a town that never got quite as hot as NYC gets).

ThatJenn (#916)

@mishaps As a Floridian who doesn’t like the heat, I will totally endorse items 2-3 (and the money-saving aspect of item 1; also, check with your utility company and your city even if you don’t live in New York/aren’t eligible for the program there, as I just got about 15% back on redoing my central heating/air). My 78 degree house feels hot with no fans, but feels great with them, and I just got a programmable thermostat that allows me to let the heat go up a little at night and when I’m not there without my having to remember to reset it all the time.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

I’ll feel bad once I see the electric bill, perhaps. However, even though I try not to have it on and to have it at economy, having an AC lets me breathe in this accursed humidity.

cc (#1,069)

this is my main reason for keeping a pet…. no excuses. a/c must be on, or mr. fluffybutt melts.

Megano! (#124)

I dont have an air conditioner, just a couple of fans. Yesterday was brutal, but we lasted through it OK. I do have a dog though, he was alright. And if it seems like he’s not, I just throw him in a tub full of cold water.

ImASadGiraffe (#982)

It’s 101 and humid in Chicago. ComEd bill be damned, I need to not sweat all day. Furry dogs appreciate it too.

We’ve had two heat waves already this summer, and my room is incredibly poorly ventilated and I’ve been having trouble sleeping because of it. Saturday I’m going to buy an A/C. NO REGRETS.

I totally feel bad about using AC in my car and try not to as much as possible. I suppose it’s a different beast but I hate that it increases gas consumption! Also I generally prefer driving with my windows down, but, when my car thermometer is reading 38C, something’s gotta give. Bummer.

moreteawesley (#545)

I feel bad using my AC, but not bad enough to keep it off. I also don’t want my cat to die, so I set it to stay at about 78 during the day and then turn it down lower when I get home. It basically quadruples my electric bill (ouch), but… some things you just deal with.

AC4LIFE (#1,520)

I live in Florida and of course you have to have it here. We set our A/C at 72 and I even have a portable air conditioner in my room cause I like to be cold. I know the electric bill will be high, but I could afford it because I chose to live at home with my parents, and not spend my money foolishly. I’ve been hearing about alot of people who don’t have it in Florida and if they can manage, more power to them. All I could say is before you rent an apartment, make sure it has A/C. If you buy a house, make sure it has A/C. Stop spending money on junk and use it towards A/C. Don’t be crying that your electric bill is to high. If you can’t afford it, than you have made bad financial decisions and need to stop gambling it or spending it on junk. If I were poor,I’d live in my car because of the A/C. Never would I get an apartment without A/C. I would use my credit card and charge my electric bill If I had to.

ujas2134 (#4,045)

When the A/C broke in our house I called immediately the air conditioning Midland team to fix it, I hate when its hot in the house. The A/C system is a must in the region I live, if the A/C is not working at night I cannot sleep.

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