I have to get a new central air conditioning unit for my house. My old unit is running on borrowed time and causing astronomical electrical bills in the summer, but I’ve been in shock since I found out what the new one was going to cost. Have you priced air conditioners lately? My first mortgage was only a couple of thousand dollars more. But when I think about the alternative, I know I would last about twenty minutes in Florida’s heat and humidity. So next Tuesday morning, bright and early, installers will swarm into my house and work all day. I can either hang around in sweaty anxiety and watch them, or I can leave and go hang out at the air conditioned mall or take in a few movies in the cool. We all know which one I’ll choose.
As mind-boggling as the cost is, the trade-off is that I don’t have to pay for installing the kind of storm windows and heating systems that people in cold climes need. And for some reason that I don’t understand, the AC manufacturer will send me a credit card good for a thousand dollars as a rebate. I don’t know why they don’t just keep the card and deduct a thousand dollars, but I guess they like the idea that every time I use the card I’ll tell people why it has the name of an AC company on it. Free publicity for them, plus they get to use the thousand dollars I’ve paid them. I’ll also get credit from my local power company, which they deduct from the cost of the AC. Over six hundred dollars, I think, although by the time the salesman got to that point, I was a bit numb so I don’t remember the exact amount. But I do remember that I’ll get $1,500 dollars in tax credit next April. A whopping fifteen hundred dollars just for installing a more energy-efficient AC unit! That’s pretty good, although I would like it better if the IRS would just let me deduct that amount from the purchase price.
The salesman assured me I would also see my monthly electrical bill drop by at least fifty dollars. He tried hard to convince me that in time the new unit will pay for itself in tax credits, rebates, deductions and lower utility bills. I don’t really believe that, but I’m telling myself the important thing is that I’m fortunate to be able to pay for the thing at all, even if it is a stretch, and that it will give me many years of cool comfort.