Some Like It Hot


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It’s been 26 days since my central air conditioning conked out. What started out as a case of home repair procrastination has become a personal energy challenge: can I slash my electricity use with an A/C-free summer?

The agonizing oil leak in the Gulf and the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia are stark reminders that our country needs to develop cleaner sources of energy…pronto. Projects like Cape Wind are long-term steps in the right direction. But, in the short-term, we’ve all got to do a better job of simply using less energy.

I find energy conservation pretty empowering. I don’t need government approval or scientific consensus to make it happen. The choices I make every day, from the temperature of my morning shower to the wattage of my nighttime reading light, can all save energy. LED light bulbs and other efficient innovations capture plenty of media attention, but the most efficient technology is the old-fashioned ‘off’ switch.

In addition to the environmental benefits, conservation is also wallet-friendly. According to the handy Mr. Electricity calculator, central air in Massachusetts uses about 1680 kWh of electricity and costs about $185 a month. The way I see it, I’ve got 185 reasons every month to keep my A/C switch off.

After living A/C-free for four weeks, I’m starting to appreciate the subtlety of a natural breeze around the house, without the artificial arctic blast that used to fill every room. Small lifestyle changes, like running my dishwasher at night and drawing my curtains during the day, help me keep my apartment comfortably cool.

I don’t how long my A/C hiatus will last, but I’m enjoying the energy saving adventure for now.

Stephanie J. Anderson is an award-winning communications strategist and a member of the MassINC Associate Board. A native of Flint, Mich., she has made Boston her home since 2002. She tweets at

Posted in: Environment   Civic Sense


Recent Comments:

Neal1199   says on 7/1/2010 10:10 AM
“Stephanie- I also practice many of the energy saving measures you touched on. I think one important points you made is that you have 185 reasons every month to keep your A/C switch off. As much as I care about the planet, I have realized that every green thing I do is financially motivated. For example, I ride my bike and use the commuter rail to get to work because owning and parking a car in the city is four times the price. I put new windows in my house for a tax credit and a promise from the vendor to save 40% on my heating bill. I purchased a new washer and dryer because the State offered a rebate and I knew it would save on my water bill. My point is that I don’t think we’ll see a real change in oil dependence until masses are motivated to make change, and that sort of motivation with have to be due to forcing tougher economic choices. I think a great start would be for Mass to raise the gas tax rather than sales taxes. I paid a $40 tax this week to buy a $200 iPhone in MA, it would have been $0 if I drove my SUV to NH to get it.”

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