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Q. Dear Umbra,

We are in the midst of a heat wave. I have a window unit air conditioner in my tiny apartment. There is an “energy saver” option that shuts down once the temp reaches the desired setting (generally 79 degrees), then starts back up again when the mercury rises. It’s been so hot that it seems to only take a few minutes till it fires back up. Is this really saving energy?

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Photo by Jan Tik.

A. Dearest Emily,

With hope, the heat will have broken by the time you read this. But we all know it will rise again, and we’ll have plenty more days when we can hear the entire country lean back in its chair, wipe its brow, and mumble, “Hot enough for ya?” Except here in Seattle, where we get approximately one hot day a year, usually the third Tuesday in September.