Higher Temperatures and Energy Costs Generating Inspiration, Not Perspiration

July 16, 2008 11:54 AM
by Isabel Cowles
Higher summer temperatures and energy costs have some Americans devising clever strategies to keep cool without air conditioning, while others snatch up AC units.

30-Second Summary

As utility costs rise, many Americans have found creative solutions to staying cool.

Instead of leaving the air conditioners running at full blast throughout the house, consumers have turned to ceiling fans, cold baths and, in some cases, even backyard windmills.

Learning to do without air conditioning may become increasingly important as utility bills continue to rise. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that electricity prices will climb almost 10 percent on average in 2009, and some areas will see significantly steeper hikes. According to the federal government, air conditioning uses nearly 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the United States.

In conjunction with rising energy costs, summer temperatures have increased nationwide, making temperature control a pressing concern.

Despite the new technological innovations, many are turning to basic ways of lowering utility bills: “Cara Cummins, in Atlanta, turns on the air conditioner only when she’s expecting guests. Otherwise, she makes do by snacking on watermelon cubes soaked in chilled bourbon,” The Wall Street Journal explains.

Of course, plenty of Americans still turn to air conditioning to keep cool, and recent advances in air conditioning design have made that even easier. Equipment keep getting more efficient, and many modern cooling units are made to target the individual specifically, rather than cooling an entire house.

Headline Link: Consumers shut off the AC

Background: AC use and high utility bills

Reference: Staying cool for less

Historical Context: How Americans lived before air conditioning

Opinion & Analysis: Risks of technology dependence


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines