Living Without Air Conditioning

I don’t use air conditioning. You might say I’m crazy, especially now that it’s so damn hot outside, but you can’t miss what you never had. Growing up, central air was considered an extravagance no one needed. My dad rarely turned it on the window units, and warned me to use them sparingly, to save energy.

Remember, this was in the 1970s which looked a lot like today. People were siphoning gas from others’ vehicles out of desperation, leading to locking gas caps. Ads for cars featured the mpg in huge numbers. Solar power was the talk of the town. My dad was a scientist, so he had a keen understanding of how all things were connected, cause and effect. It was pure logic to just say no.

And then, just like that, the energy crisis evaporated. But my dad’s voice was already part of my own, so I shirked gas guzzlers, hated wasting water or leaving on unnecessary lights. I couldn’t understand why people used more than they needed or bought things in great quantity (like gas) just because they were cheap. I’d ponder the paradox that the human mind can’t imagine infinity, yet when scientists proposed that energy was finite, so many people balked.

But back to enjoying the heat. The few times I stayed with friends who had central air were oppressive for me. There’s something eerie about living in that sealed box. After all, with central air, you wouldn’t even consider opening the windows and letting in messy nature. So, stuck inside, I’d watch the trees through the glass sway silently. And to figure out how to dress, I’d have to “check the weather,” to get information I would have already known if I’d been in it. Then I’d leave the building, and bam—it hit would me—the heat. No wonder everyone jumps into their cars and cranks the a/c.

But let me ask you this: Isn’t it lovely going to sleep to the sound of crickets? Or waking up to squirrels arguing outside your window? Or feeling summer’s night breezes waft across your windowsill? And isn’t it worth turning off all those machines to begin the process of doing things on your own? Washing your own dishes, taking charge of your own body, moving yourself to work and back home again using the strength god gave you?

There’s nothing righteous about living more naturally. It’s purely selfish—I don’t want to miss a thing. And a summer thunderstorm in all its humid glory followed by the fresh scent of rain is like the best TV programming on the planet. If you’re an air conditioning addict, try going without for three days. The first day will be the hardest, but trust me, it gets easier. And then if you go back, at least you’ll know what you’re missing.