I live in a part of the world where electricity, although pricey at times, is widely available.
With just a moment of plug in time, you can power a stove, washer, dryer, fridge, fans, computers and you can control the indoor environment in which you live. Too cold? Turn on the furnace. Too hot? Just crank up the air conditioning. We have lived with these conveniences for so long that many of us consider them necessities instead of luxuries. But, are they?
In many parts of the world, considered to be “third world”, they don’t have the ability to control their indoor environment.
A woman in a village in Kenya who is struggling to feed her family will not have the means to turn on the A/C when the heat is on. Neither would a poor family in Mexico City, one of the most populated cities in the world. A single parent living in the United States may have a hard time paying the electric bill when the A/C is running, and they can’t afford to turn it on. So, is it really necessary or are we just so used to being able to control the air inside our homes that we can’t live without it? What do you do if the power goes out during a summer storm?
I took this question to some friends of mine, both homesteaders and urban dwellers, all over the world to see what they had to say.
Erica lives in Nothern Iowa, where the winters are cold and brutal and summers are hot and humid. Her weather is in the upper 90’s with humidity levels at 65-70% and they haven’t turned their A/C on yet. They wait until the last possible moment because the electric bill can get so high. They just “deal with it”. Both Marie and Chris live in Canada, where the temps can reach 108 during the summer, but they do not have A/C. They just keep the house closed during the day and wait until it cools down at night. Ann in central North Carolina does the same to stay cool without air conditioning. Cheryl lives off the grid in California and doesn’t have the ability to run A/C. In the Pacific West Coast, Melissa lives without air conditioning by cooking and canning outside to keep that heat from the house. Northwest Missouri finds Teri living off the grid without air conditioning as well. Ashley in Vermont says that most people don’t have air conditioning there, as it’s “silly” to turn it on for only two months of the year. Jaimie lives off the grid in the Ozarks, and she stays cool by running a solar powered fan during the day, and cooling off at their local watering hole.
Now, that’s not to say that ALL my friends live without air conditioning.
Many of my friends in Texas, southern California, and Florida deem it necessary to be able to breathe. In Georgia, it’s considered the “only way to breathe”.My pals in Mississippi say that living without air conditioning means either “1) certain death, or 2) you wish for certain death.” My inlaws live off the grid in South Carolina, and my hubby grew up without air conditioning, but remembers that it was miserable hot for him. I have friends in Northern Indiana where I live that turn the A/C on in mid-May and it doesn’t go off until September. They just don’t like the heat.
What about medical necessity?
Someone who has suffered a heat stroke may not be able to adjust to the heat again. Their situation calls for the ability to cool the air a necessity, not a luxury. Older people, those with severe allergies and chronically ill may need to have more constant temperatures and the heat would hurt them. Those on diuretics, diabetics, and heart patients should also be very careful in the heat.
So is air conditioning a necessity or a luxury?
I think that is something only YOU can decide. There are many who live without it, in all parts of the country with varying heat and humidity levels. Even in urban areas where there is a lot of concrete and few trees. They just get used to it, and “deal with it”. I personally think it’s a luxury, one that I can easily live without. We spend most of our time outside with our animals, in our garden, at the park or the beach so we don’t even miss it. We sleep at night with a fan blowing on us and a cool washcloth across our stomachs if we need to be cooler. For us, the summer only lasts 4 months and we have learned that we are better able to be outside when we have adjusted to the heat.
What do you think? Is air conditioning a luxury or a necessity? Pin this for later!