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Differences Between France and America: Air Conditioning

Which Airconditioner To Choose? 

This is the third post in a summer series on cultural differences between France and America and the potential impact of this difference on our health.  This week  the focus is on air conditioning, (or should I say air freezing!) and how in America everything is air-conditioned compared to France where nothing is air-conditioned.  Impact on our health?  Although I believe that air conditioning certainly has its proper place I feel it is a bit overused in America.   Sitting in front of a fan on a hot summer day, drinking lemonade and perspiring a bit, this just seems “normal.”  Our bodies adjusting to heat, our bodies regulating our temperature  to try to stay cool in hot weather, our bodies slowing down our feelings of hunger.  At our house in France the outside temperature does get hot, even towards temperatures we will see today (near 100 degrees Farenheit) in New Jersey.  Over in France we live in a cement house (almost all houses/apartments are built this way) not like the wood houses we see here in New Jersey.  The cement houses have a way to keep out the heat.  On a potential hot summer day in Pau, we open the windows at 7 AM, and then at 9 AM everything closes, including the shutters and we put the fans out to keep cool.  It really doesn’t feel THAT hot in the house, but yes, you do perspire.  Even the businesses and government offices do the same, not many buildings have air conditioning; especially if the buildings is old (our house is at least 100 years old) plus electricity just costs too much to air condition a house. You get used to living like this, your body can regulate itself to adjust. You eat lighter cold foods and you eat less, and of course we drink more water because you just feel you need it.

Then we arrive in America for the summer.  In New Jersey it gets hot during July and August.  But everywhere I and my kids go, we have to carry our emergency sweatshirts. Grocery store, the mall, restaurants….gotta have that extra layer of clothing, even though outside is super hot!  I guess you can tell by my tone, I don’t like it.  I don’t find it normal to be so cold in stores, and I also feel that it doesn’t help your body to be always in an environment where you don’t challenge your metabolism to work.  And I believe I am right, because research published in the International Journal of Obesity suggested that air conditioning is one of the ten factors towards obesity.

How Can Too Much Air conditioning Lead to Being Overweight or Obese?

There may be  correlations between overuse of air conditioning and increased body weight.  The first idea is that during hot weather your body must strive to stay cool and regulate your body temperature.  Doing this burns calories, more than sitting in air conditioning.   Secondly, hot weather decreases appetite, so normally in the summer, if we weren’t around air conditioning we would eat fewer calories and enjoy less heavy foods.  Who would want to go to an all you can eat buffet, in the middle of a heat wave, unless you are enjoying it in an air-conditioned restaurant?  Finally, sweating is healthy, normal and releases salts, toxins and just regenerates the bodies mechanisms to stay healthy.  It may not be pleasant to perspire, but it is natural and normal.

I am not saying that air conditioning doesn’t have its important place in this world.  In fact, for those suffering from allergies or asthma air conditioning could be a life saver.  During a heat wave, those more at risk for dehydration such as babies or elderly could benefit from the cool air conditioning provides.  Let’s think of our bodies and the environment.  Yes, lower the temperature in your house with air conditioning, but down to 76 degrees.  If you own a business, do the same.  And if you have the option not to turn on your air conditioning, do it!  Hang out outside, talk to neighbors, sit on the porch, drink more lemonade in front of the fan.  You may find more benefits of being slightly uncomfortable in the heat, than being very comfortable in the house.  In the meantime, during this heat wave on one of the hottest Julys on record…take a walk in the morning before it gets too hot, eat lightly today, hang out in the sprinkler with your kids when it becomes unbearable, and enjoy the crickets later tonight.  Summer is half over and it is also a wonderful time of year to appreciate the pleasures of hanging out in shorts outside  til midnight.  It is a full moon too…magical things can happen!

Hey, I am sure not all of you agree with me on this, tell me your opinion on air conditioning and whether you think it is an essential part of your life! Comment to me, I will answer…

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5 Responses to Differences Between France and America: Air Conditioning

  1. Stephanie May 16, 2017 at 16:48 #

    I love France because there is no air conditioning. I have to run my heater all years long in my work office for they keep it so so cold in the summer. I love Summer and being warm. American’s have to have it freezing everywhere. I cannot eat in restaurants for they are too cold. But they keep them so cold so people will eat more. American’s are already mainly over weight or obese! So looking forward to Pair for 2 weeks the end of this July.

  2. Carwin Byington October 13, 2016 at 05:32 #

    I live in Las Vegas, so there’s no question that it’s absolutely necessary here. Also, 15,000 people died in France in 2003 from their heat wave and temperatures were only 104. I say “only” because our temps regularly top 110 in the summer. Global warming may make that phenomenon more common in Europe.

  3. SortingHat July 16, 2016 at 08:22 #

    BTW: Electricity doesn’t have to cost that much if there wasn’t all the *Red* tape covering it up. Texas recently uses *mini* power plants that are offline most times until needed to keep up with extra demand.

    Creative ways of using existing and building new power plants are the actual key goals. Ever seen on Sim City 3 and 4 when a power plant gets old and is not kept up with no new ones built to manage demand that keeps prices low? It’s not a pretty picture and that will happen to Europe first.

  4. SortingHat July 16, 2016 at 08:18 #

    Problem is most people lower it to 68F BURRRRRRRR! We always keep ours at 72 or 73F which is normal room temperature.

    Air conditioning itself is not evil but it’s irresponsible people that are the problem. Just like having guns taking them away will only allow the criminals to have them *smuggled or other means* in and increase violence when an issue arises since law abiding homeowners have no means to protect themselves and most gun owners know how to do a proper citizens arrest until the cops get there a half hour later.

    Same with AC. Try to regulate them and people will do things illegally and the media will fuel the fires by using coin words to scare everybody.


  1. Suzanne Saxe-R, Ed.D - July 25, 2010

    Differences Between France and America; Air Conditioning: Air Conditioning is much more common in America than Fra…

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