Is air conditioning <somewhat> of a scam?

Ok, ok right off the bat I’ll admit there are some areas and climates that are nearly uninhabitable without some method of cooling, but most people don’t live in Qatar.

But I wonder if AC, and the house design it needs namely air lock quality seals doesn’t feed into each other along with people just becoming accustomed to cooler temps over their life.

But I’ve lived without AC at home for more than five years now and I honestly don’t miss it at all,when I’m home(even in the day when the sun is blazing bad enough to give me surprise sunburns still if I am in it for a few hours continuously) I don’t sweat and I don’t feel hot at all. Hell sometimes at night it gets “chilly” enough we have a blanket on the bed, even though the temp dropping below 60F would be headline news.

When I enter a business or building with overly strong AC it is actually uncomfortable to me, it feels odd like an artificial cold.

I’ve had both people online and locals be absolutely shocked I can live without AC, again even locals in the exact same climate. But I think the difference is they live in "modern"style housing AKA hermetically sealed AC friendly housing.

I live in a house built before AC was a thing you could expect to buy, most windows don’t have a glass just burglar bars, some walls are built out of “vent bricks” which have slanted holes to allow air flow but not being see through, and rooms have vent slits near the ceiling, all combine for maximum airflow. This is only possible because again the temp will never drop below 60F granted so this won’t work in areas with winter. When it was considered to install an AC before I lived here the idea was rejected due to the massive work needed to make the house airtight(even then it was less out of need and more of a status thing).

If you want to see local weather see link below:

But yea I’m wondering if the absolute need for AC is part architecture, and part conditioning which feeds into the need for it. It has also made me realize in the event of a zombie apocalypse or other unlikely event that renders electricity non-existent most modern housing will be uninhabitable in the summer in the USA.

How do you mean a “scam”? Seems to me if something works as designed, it’s not a scam.

That said, I grew up in central Florida in a house without air-conditioning. It was an old Victorian house, so it had huge windows and was situated to catch breezes. We had ceiling fans everywhere. My mother would chirp on about how we didn’t “need” air conditioning because of the cross-ventilation.

That said, it was too fucking hot. Those cross-breezes were HOT, 90F cross-breezes, with humidity so thick it was like breathing in a sauna. I slept in a puddle of sweat every night I spent in that house between mid-June and mid-September, because it never dropped down to 60F and the humidity didn’t drop, either. I was so happy to go visit my dad in the summer in part because he didn’t subscribe to any of that “cross ventilation” bullshit; he had a/c. Blessed, cool, low-humidity a/c.

I think my mother *knew *it was bullshit, because when my mum and stepdad bought land and built their own house, there was a very efficient air-conditioner in it. Then again, her change of heart did occur around the age menopause would’ve kicked in.

On that last note, I could not even consider going through the joys of peri-menopause without a/c. Someone would die.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I’d be moving to the Arctic circle or Greenland or something.

Some people can acclimatize to hotter (and colder) temperatures better then others but we all have some ability to do so.

Also psychologically some people like the ‘protected’ feeling of the isolated environment that a/c provides, it gives a sense of comfort, safety and control.

A well-designed house can often be kept quite comfortable. I lived in a house in a very hot climate that had thick adobe walls, big shaded windows, furniture designed for the heat, and lots of trees in front. 90% of the time, it was perfectly comfortable, and I was fine dealing with the other 10%.

But I also have a high tolerance for heat, and I’m not overly fond of that “air conditioned” feel.

Some people really enjoy the AC feel- to them it feels crisp and refreshing. I think they tend to acclimate, and then want more and more to achieve the same feeling.

I have had several family members who, due to medical issues, lost most of their tolerance for heat and cold. Sure, healthy people can tolerate some heat and chill but there are folks it would kill off. In the old days guess what? They died. Nowadays they get to live longer.

If you’re not one of them count your blessings.

I’d say it’s overused, but in no way a scam.

Dry cleaning. Now there’s a scam.

I came to this thread thinking this was about install quotes from HVAC contractors.

(Always get 3 quotes & if a utility in your area does HVAC work get a quote from them too. I ended up paying about 40- 50% of the first guy’s quote, and it works just fine.)

I grew up without a/c, and to this day, my mother refuses to use it unless someone comes to visit. (Different house from my childhood home.) She claims she likes the heat - I think she’s too frugal to pay for the extra electricity. Her house, her temps. :wink:

I prefer to have the house open, but I have my limits. And the humidity here can be hideous. I was just outside, and while the temps are lower 70s, it feels as if you’ll drown if you take a deep breath. We do have fans going in the house all summer, and I’d keep it a few degrees warmer, but my husband really suffers if it’s 78° inside. So we keep it on 75°, and coupled with the fans and very-well-insulated windows and attic (plus an attic fan) it’s comfortable in here.

So, not a scam, but a nice option until it bankrupts us. :smiley:

There are certain areas of the US that would not be as well populated as they are now without AC. Everywhere else I notice people tend to use it in moderation in their homes, but businesses seem to be trying to maintain steady, colder or hotter than necessary temperatures year round. It is habit forming, who the hell wants to be in an un-air conditioned house in the middle of 90+ degree temps and 90%+ humidity?

Living in SW FLA here and I would not be without AC. I keep it COLD in my apartment. Just like my dad kept it cold in our house as a kid.

I don’t live in a particularly hot climate now (though it does get brutally humid), but my house seems to be fairly well insulated. So it stays cool for longer in the summer, and warm for longer in the winter.

I have only room AC and that’s mainly because that room has both of our computers and gets pretty hot. Sometimes, albeit rarely, we put in the bedroom AC. This summer so far we’ve done without it.

People do get used to it, and I myself am not crazy about it, but I also like it now and then. I just think people have it on too high all the time.

This is something that cracks me up. In the winter, the furnace is cranked up to 80°, but in the summer, heaven help you if you raise the thermostat above 68°!! I have a sister who does that.

I usually try to start out with the thermostat on 68 in winter, but it quickly moves to 70 or even 72. I don’t like cold. I do set it on 68 at night, since I have a heated mattress pad. In summer, the thermostat is usually on 80, but if I’m not moving about it can go up to 84. 78 at night because I just get hot at night and sleep only under a sheet. But if it hits 85 inside, I’m usually uncomfortable. Outside that’s typically fine, if I’m not moving around much. I’ve never lived in a house designed for non-AC/pre-AC-era, so don’t know how much good cross breezes and the like would do for me.

In my personal opinion AC is pretty much the opposite of a scam. I understand that plenty of people can’t afford even window units or the cost to operate them. But if I had a limited budget, getting AC in my house would be one of the very first luxuries I’d buy.

Never being uncomfortable in your own home, whether it’s severely uncomfortable or just moderately too warm, is one of the absolute best things you can do to improve your quality of life (in my opinion, obviously).

When I was much younger I’d keep a window unit in my room so I could sleep better, but it seemed imprudent to try to cool more of the house. Finally breaking down and getting a few more units so most of the house was cool was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had been spending months every year uncomfortable in my own home, lazing about instead of actually doing anything. AC is right up there with central heating and running water as far as non-scams go.

It’s not necessarily all in her head. Relative humidity has a really big effect on how we perceive temperature. A very humid summer house at 72 isn’t going to feel anything like a bone dry winter house at 72. One of the most important things a well designed AC system does is reduce humidity so you *feel *cooler (latent cooling).

As I’ve gotten older, I tolerate summer less. The house a/c is set to 74-76 when I am home. I do have a portable unit in my bedroom because it’s on the second floor and heat rises. That is also set to 74 and pretty much blows right on me. In winter the heat is set to about 72.

Bottom line: no, a/c is not a scam.

In the winter, I set the thermostat at 64°. We have a heated mattress pad on the bed, but I generally use it just to take the chill off the sheets, then I turn it off. We’ve got tons of afghans for TV-watching, plus we have a pellet stove that keeps the main living area about 70-72° as well as a fireplace insert in the basement for when my husband works in his shop.

The thing about cold - you can add layers. In the summer, you can only strip off so much.

There’s also a huge difference between how skinny people perceive hot & cold vs. how obese people perceive hot & cold.

The average skinny person might be fine at 80F and miserable at 65F, whereas the average obese person might be miserable at 80F and fine at 65F.
I agree with the OP’s sub-point that folks get used to interiors artificially maintained at low humidity & temps close to 72F year round. And that they could, if forced, go back to tolerating wider ranges. In that sense it’s like an addictive substance; at first you slightly want a little while later on you think you can’t live without a lot.

Said another way, people get used to their comforts. That’s hardly a scam, and moralizing over whether *this *comfort is morally superior to *that *comfort, or whether suffering is morally superior to comforts at all is simply Victorian blue-nose thinking.

Food, clothing, shelter, they’re all scams.

Heat set to 70 in the winter, AC set to 74 in the summer.

I certainly could cope (as a kid we never turned on the AC unless it was some 100 degree heat wave) but I can afford to pay to feel comfortable and so comfortable I shall feel.