Dear Ms. Demeanor,
My daughter and a roommate (a girl she's known since middle school) moved into a third-floor walkup brownstone in Ft. Greene in March.
The roommate insists air conditioning is not necessary. It's a 2-bedroom apartment, with bedrooms and bathroom in the rear and the kitchen in the middle. The living room is at the front of the apartment and has an a/c unit that's insufficient to cool the whole space.
My daughter bought a window unit for her bedroom, but eating, cooking, showering, watching tv are all very uncomfortable in the common spaces when it is hot. When she got home at 10 last night, her roommate wasn't home yet. The windows were open and the thermostat read 90 (the roommate apparently left them open all day while both girls were at work, a security risk from this Jewish mother's perspective).
My daughter closed the windows and put on the living room a/c. When her roommate came in about 15 minutes later, she turned off the a/c and opened the windows.
My daughter says food in the cabinets was getting funky because of the heat and she's also concerned about heat-loving insects taking up residence. My daughter has offered to pay the entire electric bill while they run the AC, but the roommate won't budge. She's saving the planet. Can this marriage be saved?
Concerned Jewish Mother
From one Jewish mother to another, I completely understand why the situation has you hot under the collar. I fully support and respect attempts to lower one's carbon footprint, but not as the expense of security, health, or sanitary conditions (I wonder what the planet-saver has to say about the wasted food...).
ConEd does have green initiatives and we have signed up for wind power at a slightly increased cost. Perhaps this is a compromise the roommate would be willing to accept. Your daughter should not have to be confined to her room since she is paying half the rent (offering to pay the entire electric bill was extremely generous).
Keeping the windows open all day, even three floors up, is simply stupid and potentially dangerous. Many people were hospitalized during last week's heat wave for heat-related illnesses; even young and healthy people are not immune.
Given that both parties work and presumably sleep, the amount of time that the a/c is on in the shared spaces is relatively small. Some friends, even childhood friends, were never meant to live together but I sincerely hope that is not the case here.
Stay cool and keep us posted,
Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected] and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.