Freezing in the South

Jon Abernathy recently returned to Oregeon from Florida and blogged about the overuse of air conditioning there. I find it’s much the same here in South Carolina. We keep the summer temperature in our house at around 78°F, higher than anyone else I know. It gives us a few extra bucks to spend or save. Stores and restaurants here are usually ridiculously cold.

His comment reminded me of a fitting 32-year-old passage in a Travis McGee novel, The Turquoise Lament:

…Trade periodicals harp on how customer traffic flow is increased by keeping the thermostat low. In the densely urban areas, the heat output of all the overspecified [cooling] systems so raises the ambient temperature the the big compressors have to kick in more often to keep the store at 67 degrees.

The knowledgeable general practitioner and the specialist in respiratory diseases will both tell you that it is a total idiocy to subject the human animal to abrupt temperature variations of more than 15 degrees. He gets sick. He has more virus infections. He takes more time off from work. He feels rotten.

Were there a Florida law stating that all thermostats would have to be blocked so as to prevent a lower interior temperature than 75 degrees in all public places, all stores, all homes, all hotels and motels, Florida Power and Light would be able to give up their huge smoking plans for new power plants. We would all be healthier. We would be able to dress more sensibly.

Maybe those overworked compressors are part of the reason for the Atlanta Heat Island which sends storms and pollution our way.

Update 2006-08-06: I came across this Slate article on the same subject.