Free Air Conditioning Causes Blissful Environmental Destruction


There are some lucky people in New York who have found utilities-included apartments and thus, do not have to pay for air conditioning. As it turns out, these people are blasting their A/C units all day and night, indiscriminately, even when they’re not there, gleefully giving a big middle finger to the environment.

Take, for example, one Michael Perlo, a 28-year-old TV producer who leaves the A/C on all the time “only partly out of sympathy for his cat,” the creatively named Kitty. Perlo told the Times (“with more bravado than guilt”!) that “Not having to pay for electricity makes me a little bit more reckless.”

Perlo lives in one of the 250,000 apartments in the city in which the electricity bill is part of the rent, because the building is wired so that there is only one meter that tracks power usage. These buildings apparently use 30 percent more energy than their electricity-not-included counterparts. But this fact doesn’t stop people from being asinine, like this young couple who left their A/C running for an impressive 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.”

Their attitude is similar to that of Danielle, who lives in Stuy-Town and who quite simply “doesn’t want to walk into a hot apartment at the end of the day.”

What’s the deal? According to Professor Lawrence J. White of NYU’s Stern business school, the problem of people abusing their free air conditioning “is Homo economicus coming out in full feather.”

We forget whether Homo economicus came after Homo erectus, or before.

Here’s the thing, everyone quoted in this article: if you turn the A/C off, that doesn’t mean your apartment will never cool down again. In fact, your apartment will become cool again very quickly once you turn the A/C back on. You may have to suffer through five minutes of being a bit too hot, but you can go stick your head in the refrigerator during those five minutes. Problem solved.