There are always disputes over space and resources as we live together -- that's human nature. But we all have to learn to share, especially with our roommates, and even with something as behind-the-scenes as your air conditioner.
This can prove troublesome and, in fact, the argument over the thermostat is not an uncommon one. Air conditioners tend to be one of the largest contributors to our comfort and having to share them with others can put this comfort in jeopardy. But similarly, heating and air conditioning tend to make up the lion's share of the power bill, which influences a different sort of comfort picture.
What do you do if you can't agree on the AC?
Find Common Ground
Unfortunately, sharing an air conditioner may require some compromise. Sit down with your roommates and talk about where your concerns come from. This may be an awkward discussion. Some people barely speak to their roommates. You might not even be aware of some of the issues they are having with the current air conditioning situation.
Typically, issues with the air conditioner will boil down to one of two things: Cost and temperature. Some people enjoy their home very cool, while others prefer to live in a warmer environment. On top of this, those that prefer it warmer may not like the increased bill that they are expected to contribute to. Getting this out in the open is paramount to finding a solution to the issue.
Establish Ground Rules
Some good ground rules include making sure that no one touches the air conditioner without the consent of the others in the house and that no one turns the air temperature down while other people are not at home, therefore increasing the bill for everyone. These might seem pretty basic, but you'd be surprised to learn what roommates will do when no one else is around
These ground rules might seem silly at first, but you'll soon find out that if everyone follows them, you'll be able to stand to live in your shared accommodation more easily. Ground rules are important for basically anything when living in an apartment. So many people leave their air conditioner out of this, and it causes cracks and small grievances inside the house that can be easily fixed. Set these rules and get your roommates to agree to them.
Make a Schedule…
This can sometimes be a difficult thing to get right. You want to maximize everyone's comfort while minimizing cost, as well as just making sure that everyone is happy with the situation. Be patient. This can require many attempts to get right. People will find problems with the smallest things, but you need to stick with it. Eventually, you'll come up with something that benefits everyone.
One that a lot of people use is a 'nights-only' rule. This essentially means that the air conditioner is on only at nighttime, or when everyone is in the house. This means that you get the most utility from the AC. Alternatively; you can set hours when the AC can be used and have people agree to pay more of the bill whenever they break this schedule. Try out various suggestions, combinations and times in order to get this perfect.
…and Be Willing to Improvise
If you're someone who likes to have the home cool, open a window in whatever room you happen to be in when the air conditioning is off. Go for a walk outside. Take a cold shower. Keep bottles of cold water in the fridge, ready to help you cool off when you need it most. Dressing lighter can also help, or just hang around somewhere where it happens to be cooler.
If you're someone who doesn't like having to pay for a large air conditioning bill, perhaps buying a ceiling-mounted fan (or suggesting getting some) for roommates who like it cooler is a possible solution. These fans will help you keep the air conditioning costs low, as well as keeping your roommates satisfied. Check out some of our other energy-saving tips here!