by Allison Nicole Shultes
The steady hum of central air conditioning could be heard from Jane Billings’ back porch as temperatures climbed into the high 90s, but the sound didn’t come from her home. A resident of Swarthmore since 1988, Jane refuses to install central air, raising three children without the luxury.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans pump almost 129 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year to cool down their residences and businesses, and spend roughly $22 billion doing so–more than every other country in the world combined. Approximately 20% of our energy cost goes towards air conditioning, and the percentage of Americans using air conditioning has increased from close to 40% to 88% in the past 40 years. Moreover, air conditioning use is expected to increase tenfold worldwide by 2050, producing a huge strain on the environment.