As I noted in last week’s Friday news roundup post, air conditioners have been a hot — yet oh-so-cooling — topic as of late not only because of the early summer heat wave that gripped New York City and much of the East Coast last week (there’s another one coming, folks!), but partly because of an eye-opening New York Times article that reported that, pound by pound, the coolant gases found in AC units contribute to global warming thousands of times more than CO2.
And on a personal level, I’ve really had air conditioning on the brain. The day after I received my very own Modlet SmartAC kit through the CoolNYC program to help me save energy through the summer, one of my two window units decided to bite the dust. Unbeknownst to me, the unit was leaking water (some kind of drainage malfunction) into my apartment and down through the walls of my building where it caused some damage to the ceiling of the apartment directly below mine. The whole fiasco managed to evoke the ire of my already hotheaded landlord and it looks like I’ll be footing the bill for repairs. And while this was all going on, it just happened to be 98 degrees outside. First world problems, I know, but it stinks,
And I’m not the only New Yorker that experienced some level of discomfort last week as temperatures climbed to unbearable levels. Michael Bloomberg, the haughty, health-obsessed billionaire businessman who also happens to be the mayor of NYC, is seeking relief from the heat in a rather interesting way. Yesterday, Bloomberg's security detail were spotted attempting to rig a full-sized room AC unit into a side window of one of the mayor’s Chevy Suburban SUVs. The air conditioner was hoisted on a rolling platform and connected to a series of extension cords plugged into a nearby electrical outlet.
In 2009, Bloomberg — who also scuttles around the city via helicopter when he’s not retreating to Bermuda in his private jet — came under fire when his chauffeurs were caught violating recently instated restrictions that prohibit vehicles from idling for more than three minutes. The SUVs were idling so that Bloomberg could leave the comfort of an air-conditioned building and hop into them without having to suffer through a few moments of sweaty discomfort before the vehicles' cooling systems kicked in. Reports claimed that some vehicles in the mayoral fleet — apparently, they're technically considered as emergency vehicles making them exempt from the tough restrictions — were caught idling for up to an hour at a time. Pretty naughty for a mayor whose standard response to distressed citizens is along the lines of “shut up and deal with it.”
The mayor’s ridiculous workaround would circumvent his own idling rules while maintaining a chilly, “hypocrisy-free” level of comfort. His staff claims that it generates less pollution than an idling SUV.
Spokesperson Stu Loeser tells the NY Post, which broke the story: “This is an experiment to be used on extremely hot days like the types we saw last week.” Loeser continues: “There is far less emissions corresponding to the power of a single air conditioner on the grid than idling a V-8 engine.”
Alrighty then. If Bloomberg’s whole AC unit-rigged-into-a-parked-SUV scheme doesn’t pan out and he finds himself with a surplus unit, I know just the person who currently needs one. Also, here’s a fashionable idea for Bloomberg’s morning commute on the subway.
Image: AFB Global Edition/ Spencer Platt