Speaking of the NY Times, I happened across a bit in Randy Cohen’s “The Ethicist” column from last spring which addresses the exact issue that some friends/cranks brought up here last winter. Namely: If your dwelling shares a wall with a neighbor, is it ethical to turn your thermostat down (or even, gasp, off) if you find cooler temperatures bearable/preferable?
Mr. Cohen came to the same conclusion I did (yes, it is ethical) via largely the same reasoning. Knowing that this issue has been pondered by the nation’s best-known ethicist, and his decision published in a newspaper of record, makes me feel better.
This winter, of course, we’ve moved and no longer have any wall-sharing neighbors (i.e., we have become “normal Americans”– or at least edged a bit in that direction). The loss of wall-sharing turned out to have little impact on anything. Instead of a neighbor blocking the entire south side of our house, we now have sun beating down on us (when it’s sunny). I think, overall, it’s a wash.