We have small ACs for our living/dining room and each of two bedrooms. And we turn them on only when we think we need to adjust the room temperature or humidity. OF COURSE we turn them off when we go out, even just for a grocery shopping. They are not a central AC for the whole house which keeps on working even while the house is empty and waiting for a new buyer.
Now, after staying in southeast Texas for 5 years, I know that would sound somewhat pre-historic or uncivilized for a lot of Americans. I understand that.
When we moved to the US, I learned it's not allowed to dry my laundry outside (like on the balcony) at our apartment. I learned we are basically only supposed to adjust the thermostat and toggle cool/warm switch on our AC, only from time to time. We bought a washer and a dryer at BEST BUY, and found out the temperature comfortable for both me (who like it warmer) and my husband (who like it cooler). We got used to it.
I have read about a Japanese lady who married to an American and was living in New Mexico (or Arizona. Somewhere in the Southwest.), who couldn't dare to use "excess and meaningless energy" for drying their laundry and tried drying bed linens in their backyard. I understood her way of thinking, but couldn't agree her with "Americans are wrong, Japanese are right about saving energy" kind of implication she was trying to make.
Yes, saving energy is very important and urgent issue for us all. I don't deny that. But, there are reasons for any "common" way of life. That Japanese lady finally admitted that not using a dryer makes bed sheets so hard (because of the hard water they have from the tap) almost unable to sleep on, and gave up. I really think it's necessary to use a dryer in snowy winter of Northern countries to keep the family healthy. I know for a fact that turning the AC off in southeast Texas in summer temperature (which starts in March and doesn't end even in October) can be a serious health threats for elders and infants.
In Japan, energy is expensive. We try to use less energy not because it saves the earth. We do it just to save money.
I have my September bill for electricity (charges for 8/11~9/9, the second most usage in this year) here. We used 372 kWh and owe 8,145 yen (about 90 US$) to them. I tried to figure out how much we would pay if we were in Texas, and visited Entergy web site. They have "A typical residential bill calculation, using 1000 kWh of electricity usage." Ha. We are not even on a same ground. (FYI, the model bill says the price is $86.47. Roughly speaking, the same cost for three times more usage.)
While thinking about this, my trusty washer told me the load is done with a lovely melody (I guess it's a phrase from some famous Classic music. Please don't ask me further.) I got my damp laundry out and brought them to the balcony, hung them on the clothes line (bar, actually) to make this scene;
We have restrictions for the laundry drying on the balcony in the apartment rules, not to let the laundries seen from outside nor to hang mattresses/rugs on the fence. Otherwise, we would buy one of these and hang our laundries as high as possible.
Like my husband's maternal grandmother (may her soul in peace), we like to hang our laundry as close as to the sun, "so it will dry quickly." My husband says she believed that the closer, the quicker.
Even though he laughs off her "not-so-scientific" reasoning, his laugh is a very warm one. We believe in the antiseptic power of the sunshine. The belief takes the form of a knowledge about ultraviolet, but I'd say it's a primitive awe we have to the sun. I think it's the way we worship the sun in everyday life.
The same kind of awe to the air itself can be the reason we turn off AC and let breezes in.
So, call us uncivilized. In the sense we haven't lost our indigenous, primitive eyes to the nature, we are.