According to the Long Island Power Authority, more than half of shops in the Hamptons let 20-25 percent of the energy they use in the summer billow right out the front door. If you've been shopping anywhere in the U.S. lately, you'd probably guess, as we do, that those numbers are closer to the rule than to the exception. We've all been that bedraggled, sweaty customer lured into a store by a cool blast of air. 

This summer, don't be that customer. Be that guy — that guy who closes the shop door and politely suggests to the store manager that the door stay that way during business hours to conserve energy. If you're too bashful to be that guy in person, be him in writing: You can send the offending store a letter, using the Federal Citizen Information Center's consumer action complaint letter template. Or on the phone: Take two minutes to try out the non-profit Call for Action hotline at (301-657-7490), and let them confront deviant retailers on your behalf. 

For solidarity, read "Shut that door, you energy-guzzling retail halfwit," which ran in the London Times last winter. As The Federal Citizen Information Center says, "it is your right to complain if you have a genuine consumer problem — it is also your responsibility. A problem can't be fixed if no one knows it exists."

Bottom line: Unless you were hoping to burn through that drawer full of reject candles during this summer's rolling blackouts, it's time to find productive ways to make stores shut the door on global warming.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in June 2007. The story was added to in August 2009.

Help a store, shut the door
A store can still be welcoming without having its door wide open and the AC flowing straight out on to the street.