An Air Conditioner Or Tons Of Fans? Ask Umbra

07/15/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
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Q. Dear Umbra,

I'm a girl trying to make it in a big, hot, airless city -- New York, that is. We're in the middle of a heat wave that will soon end, but the longer heat wave we call summer will continue, so I wonder: when the interior of my apartment is up to 93 degrees and I have no less than three fans oscillating, am I using more energy than I would if I purchased and used one energy-efficient air conditioner? What's the best choice here?

Elizabeth Q.
New York, N.Y.

A. Dearest Elizabeth,

I was in New York during that heat wave. My resultant suggestion is to carry a pail of ice water around the house with you, putting your feet into the pail each time you sit down. And don't visit the sea lions at the zoo, as you will be overcome with jealousy watching them swim about in their clear blue pool.