To AC or not to AC?

We’re back with our special “Staying Cool,” all about how to keep your place comfortable even though the temperatures are not….

We’re going to leave you today with a little discussion about a big debate. And it’s about air conditioning… And whether AC is a necessity or a luxury in today’s world.

On the necessity side of the debate, many health and labor organizations say that excessive heat is a big threat to many people in America.


The Centers for Disease control reports that every year, more than 600 people in America die, from extreme heat. They report that those who are at the greatest risk from heat-related illness are adults 65 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, infants and children….low income households and outdoor workers, In fact, OSHA, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that every year thousands of American workers become sick from occupational heat exposure, and yes, some even die.

The effects of extreme heat are well known in America. Federal workers can get a pay hike, knows as an environmental differential, if they’re assigned to work in high-heat environments.

So here you have people who monitor the health of the citizens and also people who monitor the health of the workers across America , and you have the American government recognizing the impact of high heat environments too.

So you might wonder well what’s the debate? It sounds as though air conditioning is considered a necessity….at least for workers, and the groups at risk for heat-related illnesses.
But what about the rest of us? Is air conditioning really a necessity? Or a luxury?

Well, some say that air conditioning is causing major damage to the environment by introducing tons of greenhouse gases…as properties homes and businesses are being air-conditioned. A debate in the New York Times illustrated this. Author Stan Cox saying ‘a houseful of refrigerated air’ is a manufactured necessity, not a real one, like food and water.

Architect Steve Badanes says AC has make builders and architects lazy – because they just air condition a house, instead of trying to use passive cooling techniques like shade, cross ventilation, porches, shutters and more.

And Rajendra Shende, former head of the United Nation’s Ozone Program, says AC is making us ‘soft!’ and that we should try being more rugged instead.

Of course on the pro AC side, LEED-certified engineer Ed Bosco says ac is a necessary luxury…As he puts it, air conditioning outs us in control of our comfort and frees us from the discomfort, risk and uncertainty of the weather.

It’s an interesting debate and one that’s worth exploring. But for those who believe AC is just a luxury – they certainly have an uphill battle.

The US Energy Information energy saus AC is now ‘standard’ in american homes, and that 87% of houses in the U now have air conditioning.

For homeowners, it really comes down to your own individual decisions. Use it all the time? Just on the hottest days? Or never at all?

Yep. That’s one of the best things about being a homeowner. Because while the whole world debates issues, like whether AC is a true necessity, or a modern luxury, homeowners can make up their own minds. And decide what’s best for you, your family and your house – as you stay cool – this summer.

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