Air conditioners have come under fire as a major contributor to climate change. The gases emitted in the manufacturing and use of energy to power air conditioners could potentially contribute to the more extreme summers that necessitate the use of more air conditioning.
That looks uncomfortable, no doubt, but solving it is not as simple as just no longer using air conditioning. In fact, for many people even in moderate climates, air conditioning is necessary for health reasons. So the aim is to find that happy medium where people can stay cool but not overdo the energy consumption.
One of the biggest drivers of energy conservation is improving efficiency, and the great news is that air conditioning manufacturers are stepping up. New air conditioners are much more efficient than older ones; the Department of Energy notes that a new air conditioner today can be up to 50 percent more efficient than one built in the 1970s, and up to 30 percent more efficient than one that's 10 years old. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change even says that switching to energy-efficient air conditioners, the reduction in emissions can be astoundingly good.
If air conditioning is a necessity for you, then your first step is to get the most energy-efficient air conditioner installed that you can afford. You do not have to suffer through dangerous summer heat waves. Contact an installation company and find out about payment plans, rebates, grants, and other financial incentives that can help you get a very good and efficient air conditioner installed in your home. That's going to be one of the biggest, most effective steps you can take to stay cool while reducing the effect of the air conditioner on the climate.
Always Do the Small Stuff
But that's not all you should do. Once you get the air conditioner installed, find the highest temperature you can stand and don't put the thermostat any lower than that. Many people are actually OK with warmer indoor temperatures if there's a ceiling fan running, for example; the breeze increases the cooling sensation and reduces the need for colder actual temperatures.
Dress accordingly, too (you don't need a turtleneck when it's 90 degrees out), seek out and fix unusual air leaks from your home, and stick with cool foods and meals that require less cooking. All of that will allow you to keep the thermostat at a higher temperature and still be comfortable.
This is really stuff that your parents likely told you -- "close the window, you're not air-conditioning the neighborhood" type of stuff. But it is really effective and lets you avoid the chilly air that isn't necessary. You can still use an air conditioner. Just take a look at the efficiency of your current unit and see how you can improve that.