When I think of my apartment, a number of things come to mind: gulag, cinderblock castle, bat cave, and my favorite, rectangular ode to communistic utilitarianism. Yes, my home is something special. One of the perks is insulation that never seems sufficient for either hot or cold extremes. In the winter, the bare linoleum floors chill bones — forcing occupants to wear sandals or shoes indoors. The summer brings a respite from the cold, and makes my apartment heat up like a sweat lodge — only, without the nice cedar wood smell.
The summer months bring some wacky weather through the Midwest. This being my third summer in the land of flat, I know that I’m in for hot, sticky days that border on 100 degrees — even overnight. Torrential rainfalls will produce floods and muddied areas, while you get baked throughout the other days. Pretty good if you’re a 4-year-old making mud pies; beyond that, not really quite sure who enjoys it.
I’ve lived in a few areas of the country that don’t really need air conditioning. People may have them attached to the home or in a window, but for the most part, these white boxes stand as decoration to a humble abode. But here in Iowa, air conditioning is a must have.
In August, I’m moving into an apartment complex that is supposed to have built-in, central air conditioning. To prepare for this, I decided to list my air conditioner on Craigslist two days ago. I hastily placed it online — without a picture or many details. It can take a little while to sell things in my city. There aren’t many people here; especially, over the summer.
I fully expected it to take a month to actually sell the unit. I was dead wrong.
Well, Frugaling fans, I’m in for one hellish summer. I just got back from selling my window air conditioning unit in one day. The family I sold it to were incredibly appreciative and kind — even paid me to drive to their place. The man who lifted the AC out from my trunk said, “Boy are we happy to have this right now. It’s only going to get worse and worse this summer.” All I could do was politely smile and nod. Inside, my stomach churned with the anticipatory anxiety of an entire season without it.
Naively, I didn’t think I’d spend an entire summer without air conditioning, but in a way this is all accidentally frugal. Letting go of the air conditioner this early in the summer season feels like trouble, but there are some tremendous benefits.
- Reduced utility bill. The summer months can wreak havoc with my careful budget. Oftentimes, the budget is precariously balanced and if there are extended periods of heat, I can see my bill skyrocket. Most of those costs are associated with increased air conditioning use. Without this appliance, I’ll be struggling, but saving every minute that it’s not running.
- A family in need is helped. AC units can be expensive and a family (with a pregnant mother) will enjoy the benefits of a cooler house. I’m really happy they were able to use this and save a pretty penny from buying new.
- My wallet is padded. I didn’t just do it for purely altruistic reasons, though. I’ll be able to pay off another chunk of debt with this extra cash. Even more than paying off another portion of student loans is the psychological benefit of knowing I’m moving in the right direction — saving and earning. This has been my major goal since starting Frugaling.
- Saving the environment. Air conditioners are a drain on energy resources, tax aging infrastructures, and push coal-fired power plants to go into overdrive. Removing the AC will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases I contribute. One of the most frugal things I can recommend is opening windows at night, and then closing them immediately in the morning. Also, put down your blinds. This small step will effectively insulate you from changing temperatures outside. Your apartment will be a nice ice box in comparison to the outside temperature.