A/C lacks proper use

By Stefan Ivanovski

Contributing Writer

It’s gorgeous outside. It’s springtime, my favorite time of the year. As the temperatures start to rise, people all over campus and beyond reflexively reach for the air conditioning (AC) control and put the thermostat below 60 F.

I have not yet understood how people decide to use ACs the way they do, especially here in the United States. I spent my summer at the University doing research with the economics department, working most of the time at the library. The temperature outside was around 85-90 F. I would walk outside with a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. I would get to the library and I would be freezing; I would have to walk outside in order to warm myself up.

I remember asking one of the staff members at the reference desk to turn off the AC, but I was told that some areas cannot be “climate controlled.” Basically, it’s the whole floor or nothing. I wasn’t asking for the AC to be turned off. I was just trying to find at least one logical reason why anyone would turn the temperature down so low, to a temperature that is unbearable for pretty much everyone. I could not find any. Such actions do not follow any economic, environmental or rational logic nor are they healthy.

Keeping the temperature in the range of 68-73 F during hot summers, when it is necessary, instead of below 60 F would make sense. These days, the temperature outside doesn’t top 65 F, so it is best to open the windows and let the smell of spring enter the classrooms. My impression is that it seems to be “socially unacceptable” to open the window when you can “conveniently” turn on the AC and make the temperature “comfortable.” There must be something special about that feeling associated with turning the temperature knob. The HVAC is probably filled with dust, allergens, bacteria and mold, only making indoor air quality worse, using more money. Why would you pay for something when you can get something better for free?

I do understand that humidity is a big issue over the summer, and I am not advocating to stop the use of ACs, but I am calling for smarter use. The University can save some money through relying more on natural ventilation throughout most of the year, like now, rather than solely ACs.

For thousands of years, man has constructed houses in hostile environments, hot and cold, dry and humid, and has still managed to control indoor temperature without the use of technology or energy. For example, in the south of Spain, in most cities and towns, multi-story houses are constructed around narrow streets. This helps create shadows and keeps the sun away, which generates a nice cool climate indoors. Simple engineering and respect for environmental process goes a long way. My point is that we have to adapt to natural conditions and question “socially acceptable” habits such as the unnatural use of ACs.

Let’s try to enjoy the smell of spring from the comfort of our rooms, classrooms and offices: it isn’t too much to ask.

Thank you for your time and enjoy the spring.

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