Editors Blog

Skaer-Tactics: Airing the Hot, Cold Regarding <I>Time's</I> Klein

July 14, 2008
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In his July 7 commentary, Time’s columnist Joe Klein encouraged Americans to “Kill your air conditioner. Solving the energy crisis requires sacrifice. For the good of the country, we should be sweating.”


Maybe Klein was making a few tongue-in-cheek suggestions, but I don’t think so. At least he did admit having a bias in that he loves warm weather, “even when it slouches toward humidity.” He added, “I detest the harsh, slightly metallic quality of the air forced through even the fanciest AC systems. The only air conditioner I own sits, unused, in my car; my home is happier unrefrigerated.”

Hopefully most Americans are not like Klein in that they’d rather sweat than use air conditioning. If they are, then this industry is in deep, deep trouble.

Admittedly, Klein does make a valid point concerning conserving. He quotes Lee Schipper of the University of California-Berkley, who said Americans can get a savings of 4 percent for every degree warmer one pushes the thermostat. “If you’re set at 70°F now and move it to 78° – a comfortable, if slightly chilly number to my mind – you save 20 percent of the cost and energy of your air conditioning bill,” wrote Klein.

Not sure if this suggestion should be backed by this industry or not.

The writer went further, concluding, “I’d like to see both [presidential] candidates call for an immediate 5° thermostat adjustment, just to get the conservation ball rolling - and because it would be a personal virtue for each candidate to ask it of us.”

If he can get that accomplished, I’m going to pull him in to help get an HVACR-related TV program on the air.
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