Now that summer is upon us, there is a question whose neglect by philosophers constitutes nothing less than a scandal: why does air conditioning always feel excessive?
In principle, it seems it should be possible to adjust air conditioning to a reasonable level, approximating that of a moderately warm summer day. In this way, one could reach a state in which the same clothing would be appropriate for both indoors and outdoors, as opposed to the present absurd situation where one often feels compelled to wear a sweater or some other supplement indoors during the summer. In addition, such a state would moderate the shock of moving back and forth between extreme outdoor heat and extreme indoor cold, which can lead to sickness.
Why does such a reasonable state of affairs so seldom exist when air conditioning is employed? I suspect that the problem is that air conditioning is more than a utilitarian cooling device: it is a marker of luxury, of the ability to transcend the elements. That shock of cold air, so incongruous in the hot summer months, is precisely the point. It is not enough that air conditioning actually cool the air — it must draw attention to the fact that it is doing so.
Other methods for keeping buildings cool during the summer months exist, and they are effective except for extremely hot environments. This, I learned from a technician for AC repair in San Antonio while traveling. One can leave the windows open at night to draw in cold air, for example, and then close them in the morning in order to capture that cool air, in addition closing the blinds to minimize the effects of the sun. What separates air conditioning from this relatively effective strategy, however, is the ability to control the temperature in complete indifference toward nature.
Where the method I outline responds to natural rhythms in order to create conditions more favorable to human thriving, classic air conditioning and heating closes off the influence of nature entirely, instituting a completely artificial environment. And that artificiality, that achievement of human self-sufficiency that constitutes the true essence of air conditioning much more than its mere utilitarian value, must announce itself as such — hence the need to introduce uncomfortable, excessive cold in the middle of summer.