What is Life Like Without an Air Conditioner?

For the past two weeks, talk about the weather has been a very, very hot topic. (Godawful pun, forgive me.) For good reason. Here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri, daytime temperatures have been in the mid 90s consistently, peaking as high as 100Β°. Nighttime temperatures have brought little to no relief. On top of that, the vast majority of homes here are without active cooling or air conditioning. And during this very busy time of year when the gardens are bustling, and building is in full swing, there are little opportunities to find relief.

It is during times like these that I have the utmost respect for the Pre-Air Conditioned Human (PACH). PACH took what he/she could get, and if that was only a small bit of shade under a tree on a sunny 95Β° afternoon, that was it. Well, PACH, you grinned and bore it, and we are here today thanks to your unceasingly sweaty armpits, your severely challenged endurance, and your well-deserved long naps during the hottest parts of the day.

PACH was far from spoiled by the luxury of a device that could be plugged in and actually cool the indoor air temperature. Well, I too am trying to cope with that lack of air conditioning, by choice, and it is not glamorous. You sweat all the time, you drink water constantly and still it is not enough to keep hydrated, and you move very slowly and with great effort, and try your damnedest to keep out of the direct sun as possible.

Combine that with living a very outdoors kind of life, and it makes things very interesting (read: extremely challenging), to say the least. When the tough gets going, and all I want is the slightest of breeze, or the feeling of even mildly cool air on my face, I think about good ol’ PACH. They made it, so that must mean I can, too. Of course, we may be dealing with ever greater stretches of heat and all-around higher temperatures thanks to global climate change, but still. We gotta learn how to cope if that’s how it’s going to be.

Why I Choose to Live without Air Conditioning

Air conditioning creates a false sense of reality and comfort that I would rather not participate in. It takes a large amount of energy to cool the air, and when millions of homes depend on active cooling and air conditioning, it creates a whole lot of demand for dwindling fossil fuel energy. At the same time that we are cooling our homes and work spaces, and thus generating increased CO2 emissions, we are warming the world. It’s kind of an ironic cycle.

Anyway. I don’t claim to be a better human by trying to live life without an air conditioner, but I can honestly respect all the individuals who do it today, and those who have lived for thousands for years before it was even a possibility. Life without air conditioning is really a whole different kind of reality.

Perhaps it’s a reality we will have to embrace more as time goes on.

Image credit: flickr via Kullez

  1. Buildingwell.org (@Buildingwell)

    You bring up an excellent point – there was a time (in the not-so-distant past) in which our homes and buildings were not artificially cooled. There are many methods that can be incorporated in order to naturally cool our indoor spaces. It just takes a bit of research and old-time experience, but the results are rewarding. With many obstacles to installing air conditioning (costs, building limitations), natural cooling methods are the way to go.

  2. FTLNewsFeed

    See, I see air-conditioners as an indication of the old human truism — our struggle to overcome our environment. But for sure, the costs of running them are so high that I really only turn mine on when it gets into the 100’s. So far it’s only done that for a few days back in July here in NYC, and August has been a nice 80’s month, so I’ve left the unit out of the window and unplugged and really shouldn’t need it until next summer.

  3. Mike

    Just came across this on a google search. I was in the dominican for a while, in an area where there was no electricity. not having AC was bad, especially with the bugs (you didn’t even bother cleaning up until 6 or 7 at night), but the cool thing about it was how much more you knew the people. I still remember the afternoons playing dominoes or the nights drinking coffee on the porch. It was kind of nice to talk to the whole neighborhood at the end of the day. Not having AC in the states would really suck though. there wouldn’t be anybody to hang out with when it’s too hot inside.

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