2012 has been a hot year. In Nebraska, a quarter of the days in May had temperatures 90 F or higher. Experts are predicting a hot and humid summer. People are sweating: farmers are worried about their crops, and high temperatures could lead to excess water usage causing droughts. Even Monsanto is concerned about the changing climate.
Yet in the early 20th century Nebraska faced its hottest temperatures on record. People dealt with temperatures eclipsing 110 F. And they handled it without iced coffee or indoor A/C. Our predecessors faced tough times without the luxuries of today.
That’s why I haven’t turned on my air-conditioner. Even though my home has been as hot and humid as the air outside, remembering the past reminds me that I have little to complain about. And when I hear my neighbor’s A/C humming, I think of all the energy and money that I’m saving.
Our minds and bodies adjust. Yesterday’s luxury can become today’s expectation. But that attitude can lead to more than constant disappointment--its unsustainable. The following chart sums it up: Nebraskans consume more energy per capita than previous generations. Collectively, that means more fossil fuels must be burned to keep us cool and power our new gadgets.
Our attitude adjustment swings both ways, and with effort we can change our behavior. Energy-saving habits, like turning off lights in unused rooms, sealing your windows in the winter and yes, keeping the A/C off until absolutely necessary can save energy and money. Rural people especially have a history of making do with less, finding new ways to cut costs.
It may feel hot, but remember that a kilowatt saved is a penny earned.
So before cranking up the A/C, ask yourself: Can I do without? Your descendents--and your pocketbook--will thank you.
You can reach Paul Mansoor via telephone (402-687-2103 x 1028), or email (email@example.com), and you can follow him on Twitter @paul_at_cfra
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