Let me start my saying that this article isn’t going to be nearly as crunchy as it would appear on first glance. I don’t use my heater or air conditioner very often but when weather gets crazy here in Chicago, I’ll throw one or the other on every now and again.
I have reasons behind why I don’t turn them on very often…but I’m not trying to recreate living in the wilderness either. So there, that’s settled: I’m not a complete loony bin out to snatch away your AC.
Nonetheless, I’d like to make a couple points as to why I choose not to bust out the air conditioner or heater very often in my house. Some of these reasons are physiological, some of them fun, and others are pretty obvious. But in any case, let’s get started!
#1. Humans benefit from not having a constantly temperature-controlled environment.
As much as we love to draw the line between “us as people” and “them as animals” on our planet, I believe it does us well to remember that us city-living-car-driving-store-shopping folks aren’t so different in several important ways from our outdoor-dwelling counterparts. (I could’ve just said, “we’re animals too”…but you’ve probably heard that so many times that it has lost all significant meaning.)
And while I’m not a big fan of using “we evolved that way” as a reason for anything and everything, in this particular topic, I think the concept of us evolving with our environment is a really important thing to consider.
I’ve talked about using contrast showering for promoting skin, peripheral nerve, superficial muscle, and lymphatic system health in the past. And while that’s a great tool, it’s really just an artificial way to do what we would naturally do in our outside environment.
In reality, sweating, shivering, raising the hair on our skin (through arrector pili muscles), vasodilating (increasing the diameter of our blood vessels to increase blood flow), and tissue swelling and contracting are all important functions that keep several of our organ systems running optimally.
It may not seem like much, but these functions have far reaching consequences for our overall health. Stagnation in multiple organ systems (specifically: skin, central and peripheral nervous system, lymphatics, muscles, and circulatory system) isn’t what we normally think of when we flip on the heater as the temperature drops. But from a functional standpoint, we’re minimizing a whole host of reactions…and that’s something to stop and think a little bit about.
#2. Getting to enjoy your environment is fun
In a world where you can get in touch with someone in 10 different ways, you always have 5 million emails waiting, you can close to anything delivered straight to your door, and social media moves faster than the speed of light (oh my god, I sound like my grandma), the act of appreciating and reacting to your environment has become a pretty lost art. We’ve created just about every article under the sun to make sure we stay dry, warm, and protected from anything Mother Nature throws our way.
But losing some of that protection can end up being kind of a good thing for our stressed out lives…in that it can mean things get really fun! Getting rid of our heater means my husband and I are “forced” (aka: get to!) snuggle up on a make-shift floor bed (made out of pillows and sleeping bags), watch movies, and drink hot choffee in the winter time. In fact, memories like those are some of my favorites in the winter. We’re responding to our environment…and letting it slow us down in the best way possible.
Likewise, my memories of sitting around in a sports bra and shorts after a run, eating homemade popsicles, and spraying on a cooling-peppermint-spray are some of my fondest home-based summer memories. We’re “forced” to eat seasonably by the desire to not turn on our stove/oven and I can’t count the delicious drinks my husband and I have created out of the need to cool off in a yummy way based on some random things we have had in our fridge.
Again, I’m not making case for getting rid of modern luxuries for the sake of “fun”. But just that maybe it can get pretty exciting to live outside our comfort box at all times.
#3. It’s cheaper
The next two points I’ll make are pretty basic and I feel like pretty everyone has heard them before. Turning off your heater and air conditioner–for whatever other reasons you do it for–can save you a good chunk of money.
Since people often cite money as a reason why they can’t eat healthfully and/or focus on food quality as much as they’d like, making little changes like this in your budget can give you a little bit of wiggle room to spend your money the way you want to spend it.
My husband I have certainly found this to be true and we’re more than happy to throw on sweatshirts and fleece pants during the winter in order to eat a little bit more deliciously all year round.
#4. It’s less wasteful
In our discussions about the beauty of our environment, there’s an argument to be made about making choices that help preserve what we have. Choosing to not turn on your air conditioner or heater every so often probably won’t make the biggest difference in not being wasteful. But it’s not a terrible start…and you know how much I love the power of making small changes.
The beauty of making small changes is that they tend to add up. Not relying on your temperature controlled environment today means you might be making the choice to bike to work next year…and all of a sudden, you’re happier, thinner, and more self-reliant than you were before. Multiply that by a bunch of people making small changes…and you have a pretty powerful force on your hands!
So there is it: why I don’t turn on my heater or air conditioner all that often. Maybe you’ll join me in these little choices I make and maybe you won’t…but I hope that hearing the reasoning behind it allows you to make those decisions consciously instead of automatically.
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