Boston Globe staff writer Leon Neyfakh writes on Americans' dependency on air conditioning. In 2013, Neyfakh noted that for years before the AC unit, Americans coped with the sweltering heat and retreated to the porch. By relying less on air conditioning, Neyfakh argues that Americans would retreat to their porches, decks, and make the American barbecue more routine than a special occasion.
As Neyfakh wrote:
"Today, almost 90 percent of American households have one—as do the vast majority of restaurants, stores, museums, and office buildings. But A/C has huge energy costs--and as the use of the technology rises around the world, it’s worth thinking how we could combine old and new strategies to go back to a life without it. Without air conditioning, we’d live very differently--eating, sleeping, and working at different times, building homes and offices differently, getting around by bike, spending much more time outside, dressing much more lightly--but maybe in a way that we’d actually enjoy more...
Even sitting around would be different. With A/C, many people stay indoors as much as possible on hot days, protected from the elements by their hermetically sealed igloos. But without climate control, those elements become a person’s best hope for comfort, which is why porches used to be such an important part of life in the South: Not only could people sleep on them at night, they could also use them as places to hang out during the late afternoons and evenings. If Americans were to stop relying so much on air conditioning, chances are we’d see the emergence of a new kind of porch tradition, even if it did involve more people sitting out with laptops and smartphones than visiting with their friends and neighbors.”
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