Tuesday, June 29, 2010
By Stephanie J. Anderson
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 www.twitter.com/StephieTweet.