Germany Scorned Air Conditioning — Then Came the Heat Wave

Germans have always looked down on America’s fondness for artificially chilled air as wasteful, unnatural and wimpy. Rather than install climate control in buildings and subways, schools and offices will simply close if it gets too hot. Now, the increasing frequency of triple-digit highs have forced a national reckoning. From a report: Germany’s Trade Association for Air Conditioning said that last summer, the second-warmest on record since 1881, yielded a 15% jump in sales to 200,000 units. That figure is expected to climb this summer, as more Germans rebel against the nation’)s obsession with energy conservation. High temperatures are known to make people act out of character. Police in the German state of Brandenburg stopped a man riding naked on a motorcycle. He said it was too hot for clothes.

German authorities have even imposed speed limits on stretches of the Autobahn, fearing it could buckle like heated wax. Old-fashioned oscillating fans have always been the preferred way for Germans to keep homes and offices cool. Property leases for apartments implore tenants to open their windows several times a day to help regulate temperature. A video from the German news magazine Focus, keeping to tradition, suggested a cooling method using “a fan, a towel, and a bowl of water.” Retailers fear a fan and air conditioner shortage this summer. Annabell Feith, a spokeswoman for the retail group that owns two of Germany’s largest electronics stores, MediaMarkt and Saturn, said the chains were bolstering their orders. Last year, some stores sold out by August. “We are advising customers, if they want to buy a fan, to be very quick, because we expect more heat,” she said, “and we are almost sold out, especially in Berlin.”

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