Local News

Family Forgoes Air-Conditioning for Summer

Posted August 9, 2007

— Tracey Olilveto and Jerry Stifelman moved to Carrboro for a simpler life.

Both work at home. They’re writers and environmentalists. But the couple has been getting a lot of attention lately, and it all started with a wedding gift.

Their friend Sami was getting married and said he felt guilty about the pollution caused by his plans to fly away on his honeymoon.

“That's when we decided, for the month of June, the month he was getting married and going on his honeymoon, we would not use the air conditioning to further off-set what was happening with his airplane flight,” Olilveto said.

With no air-conditioning, the family relied on a ceiling fan, shade trees and a new awning to help block the sunlight and keep the house cool.

“June was beautiful,” Olilveto said. “June was easy.”

Their son, Shay, caught up on summer reading under the ceiling fan. They decided to stretch the gift through the summer. Then came July.

“It felt a little harder,” Olilveto said. “And that was the first time I started shedding as much as I could with clothing and keeping the shades drawn."

Now it’s August and 100 degrees.

“We definitely had to make some concessions, in part just to get some sleep,” Olilveto said.

But during the day, they still shut down the A/C.

“It's funny to do something that makes sense and get attention," Stifelman said.

It’s not so funny when you realize they cut their electricity bill in half.

The couple is receiving national attention as well. They will be featured on the syndicated public radio program "The Story" on Friday. The show is produced at WUNC-FM.


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  • Supie Aug 11, 2007

    "loudnoises" hey. do you know if firefighters grandma wants ac? do you know if she couldn't afford it herself if she wanted it? at 91 people sometimes make choices that have worked for them for, oh, 91 years.

  • loudnoises Aug 11, 2007

    UNCfirefighter, that begs another question: what the hell is wrong with you? Why would you let your grandma, in her twilight years go without AC? You should be buying her an iceberg if she matters anything to you. Sure, she might have grown up not having AC like everyone, oh say, 91 years ago, but NOW? C'mon man, do your granny right and get her some AC already. Be a man.

  • OCFF Aug 10, 2007

    At this point I hope they realize that it is using more energy to recool their house in the evenings. I've tested it in my own home. It costs way less to leave the thermostat at a steady level if you are going to use it. I applaud their effort. I think their effort is going to be undermined just because they are from the "liberal" Carrboro. My grandmother has lived 91 years WITHOUT A/C in Eastern NC.

  • freedom Aug 10, 2007

    I bet they drive an SUV... hypocrits are such common place. Nothing alturistic when you allow the media to shower you with praise for what some of us have done our entire lives..

  • momofthreeinFV Aug 10, 2007


  • K9Tucker.LoveMYcop Aug 10, 2007

    good for them - as for me, I work really hard in a hot hot warehouse and when I get home the a/c better be on!!!!!!!

  • Myword Aug 10, 2007

    You know, a lot of the people posting here are the same ones who post all the time about Al Gore being wrong for flying planes to talk about global warming...now they are calling these people dumb for doing something to offset some jet fuel use...well...which is it? I wouldn't skip AC myself, but more power to them...so to speak. As for the rest of you who post both ways...why don't you just say you don't want anyone to try to do anything about burning energy like it is going out of style?

  • gopanthers Aug 10, 2007

    wonbyone74 - LOL -True but a lot of our ancestors lived to the ripe old age of 30 something.

  • room Aug 10, 2007

    The whole thing is silly. Can't believe I just wasted my time reading this (or responding for that matter). Seems the more educated some people get, the dumber they get. If they really want some attention, then dump the electricity from their home, walk to the woods, shoot dinner, raise some chickens for sunday dinner, make their own clothes, wash in the creek, etc. Now that would warrant national attention and save energy.

  • PDMARTIN Aug 10, 2007


    Again you stick your foot in your mouth. The story didn't say these people didn't take showers. You do it everytime you post.
    Maybe you need to keep what you think in your head instead of making sure the rest of us KNOW. Just shut it!!!