Tips for Sustainable Living

Air Conditioning and Moderation

Yet another sacred duty is that of clinging to the cord of moderation in all things, lest they who are to be the essence of detachment and moderation be deluded by the trappings of this nether world or set their hearts on its adornments and waste their lives.

—The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 10, 1980, to Iranian Bahá’ís resident in other countries throughout the world

In a warming world, air conditioning is becoming increasingly important and can be a life saver. However, cooling the air requires a lot of energy. If you are lucky to get your energy from solar panels on your roof, that is great. Most of us, though, are still relying on fossil fuels for the energy we use. Burning fossil fuels produces carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and also make heat waves even worse. In addition, air conditioning blows hot air outdoors and contributes to heating our cities, towns, and villages.

So what can we do to live more sustainably? We can exercise moderation. It is summer, after all, and a little sweat never hurt anyone. We don’t need to be so cool that we need to put on a sweater or a long-sleeved shirt. Considering air conditioning from the point of view of moderation, we can use it to take the edge off the heat and to lower the temperature to a degree that people, particularly the very young and very old, do not suffer or get sick. Even if we are not turning our homes into refrigerators and are buying clean energy from hydro, wind, or solar power, we should still be using air conditioning only when it is necessary, for energy from renewable sources is not as powerful as that from fossil fuels. We need to make moderation a genuine part of our lives.

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