As a recent convert to the fan-centric lifestyle, I’m prepared to go on record and say yes: you can survive the summer in New York City without air conditioning. Skeptics, hold your fire! There are a few salient points that may help you become a fan of the fan:

  • Fans are convenient. Have you ever tried to install a window-unit air conditioner by yourself? Or had to carry it up and down multiple flights of stairs as the seasons change? I hope your back has recovered. Fans are lighter, quieter, and need far less maintenance than an AC unit.
  • Fans are compact. Fans are smaller than air conditioners, and therefore much easier to store during the winter when they’re not in use. In a small space, especially a room with only one window, an AC can be an eyesore, and prevents you from being able to open the window on beautiful summer days.

hot summers in New York City

(Source: etccdb via Flickr Creative Commons)

  • Fans are affordable. Although there are plenty of high-end fans out there, stores like the Home Depot and PC Richards have plenty of options under $100. The Lasko cyclone standing fan goes for $32.96 and gets great reviews. AC units also vary greatly in price, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one below $100. At Home Depot, you can expect to pay anywhere between $129 to $299 for a unit.
  • Fans are easy on your electric bill. On average, a window-unit air conditioner will cost about 14 cents an hour to run, whereas a fan costs about 1 cent every three hours. That breaks down to $50.40 per month for an AC, and $1.20 per month for a ceiling fan.
  • One word: the environment. According to this finance site, “about 25% of all electricity consumed at home in the United States is to power AC units, and most of that electricity comes from carbon rich coal.” AC units release about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the environment every year. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you should turn off the AC when the nights keep getting hotter. The earth will thank you.

Listen, I’m not a monster: I understand that some people simply can’t sleep in a room when it gets hot. There are good reasons why an AC would make more sense than a fan: if you are trying to cool down a large space, like your living room, an air conditioner may be the only way to do that effectively. And rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight, no matter how small they are, might also need more cooling power than a fan can provide.

There are pros and cons to both, but let’s face it: if the weather in New York continues to be as erratic, there may be fewer days in the future when an AC unit will feel absolutely necessary.