Air Conditioning Is the Reason You Can't Handle Heat Waves

Kelsey Clark

Air conditioning may feel like your one and only ally on sweltering hot days like these. But while it has undoubtedly saved you from restless summer nights and even decreased the amount of heat-related deaths over the years, it has also substantially lowered your heat tolerance. According to New York Magazine, your reliance on AC is what ultimately turns you into a sweaty, melting mess when dealing with 100-degree temperatures.

“On a literal level, our reliance on air-conditioning is actually making the world hotter; residential cooling uses such a massive amount of energy, that AC use has climate change researchers worried,” writes New York Magazine’s Cari Romm. “But on a psychological level, it’s also making the air outside feel hotter.” She likens this phenomenon to a caffeine addict drinking coffee: The more coffee you drink, the more you’ll need to consume to get that identical buzz day after day. The same goes for air conditioning. Decades ago, when air conditioning didn’t exist, people lived in a state of blissful unawareness, relatively unfazed by the unfathomable temperatures outside.

Apparently, our egregious heat intolerance has a scientific name: the adaptive comfort model. This means that our ideal temperature is heavily influenced by the temperature we were most recently exposed to. This is why dealing with a 100-degree day after weeks in the 80-degree range feels like walking into a sauna you can’t escape. Ironically, the only true way to beat the 100-degree heat is to lay off the AC (and head to the beach instead).

Would you consider turning down your AC in order to test this theory? Share your thoughts on the research below.

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