Not Cool: Leaving the AC Running

I make it a point to turn off my air conditioner any time I leave the house. I don't care if it's to go to work for 13 hours or to go for a two minute walk over to the corner store. I turn off the AC. But more and more, I come across friends who leave the cool machine running no matter what. It’s a careless waste of energy, and harmful to the environment.

This article from The New York Times details just how many residents leave their AC constantly running, since they don't have to pay for electricity:

In a handsome prewar building in Greenwich Village, a tenant struggled to remember the last time she turned off her air-conditioner. Upstairs, a young couple admitted to having let the window unit run for four days while they went out of town for a funeral, thinking it would be nice, amid the July heat wave, to return to a cool apartment.

Another resident of the 160-unit building, on Seventh Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets, says he leaves the air-conditioning on when he goes to work, when he sleeps at his girlfriend’s apartment, even when he leaves the country on vacation — and only partly out of sympathy for his cat, Kitty.

This shows just how many people still care more about satisfying their own needs, while ignoring the damage being done:

And regardless of who pays the electric bills, there is a considerable environmental cost: a 2009 report said that residential buildings account for 39 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 40 percent of the energy that buildings use is spent on heating and cooling.

“Using it when you’re not home is outright irresponsible and disrespectful of all the rest of us,” Dan Hendrick of the New York League of Conservation Voters said. “There’s no good way to look at this. The worst thing is, you’re warming our climate to cool your apartment for your own comfort.”

I see a lot of the same here in Philadelphia. So, the next time you’re about to leave the house, and that AC is running, keep in mind: the joys of a cool apartment and free electricity don’t compare to the long lasting damage on the entire planet.

Check this out for what appliances you should replace to save some money and energy.