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TO many Americans, abstaining from air-conditioning is a masochistic folly akin to refusing Novocain or renouncing the dishwasher.
Yet as this particular summer finally heats up, even citizens who believe that climate control is a God-given right may be questioning whether it has become a luxury they can no longer afford. They are probably also wondering how they can survive without it.
Those who’ve done just that like to point out that air-conditioning is a relatively recent boon to humanity: The Allies won World War II without it, and the great pyramids of Egypt were built al fresco. Today, fans of the unchilled life say that it is not only possible to turn back the clock and live as one with summer, but to do it while maintaining a fairly high quality of life.
This summer, she probably has more company in the choice she has made. Shipments of window air-conditioners from manufacturers to distributors were down 39 percent in the first half of this year compared with the first half of last year, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers in Washington, D.C., and shipments of central air-conditioning units have been down 10 percent a year for the past few years, according to the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute in Arlington, Va.
Like the Holmeses, many choose to go natural during the summer for economic reasons. Others find that this is a point on which finance, politics and habits intersect.
“If you sweat it out, drink water and let your body adjust with the seasons, you’d be surprised,” he said. “There’s a few days where you feel like you’re walking into a wet shower curtain, but it’s amazing how your body will adapt.”