I can remember the last time that my a/c went out in my apartment. I was miserable in the middle of summer here in Austin, Tx. Although I have always liked the outdoors, there was usually an air conditioned house where I could cool down. However, with that luxury gone for the time being, a person can understand how much energy it takes to keep a house comfortable.
Based on a few sources, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/heating_cooling.html and http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-efficiency/heating-cooling.php, approximately 40-50% of your electrical utilities bill is for heating and cooling your home. This is a convenience that most of us have lived with our whole lives.
I was once told by my Thermodynamics professor that if you set your air conditioner to 80 degrees F instead of 75 then you can reduce your costs by about half. I know this seems like it is not true but he showed us the calculations based on assumed values and it checks out in theory. So why not save money and reduce energy use by turning up the temperature on your air conditioning?
I know that the Austin Energy company here in Austin, Texas does an energy saving program, http://www.austinenergy.com/Energy%20Efficiency/Programs/Power%20Partner/index.htm, where they offer a free digital thermostat if you participate. It basically reduces the amount of time that your a/c will run during each hour to save energy. I plan to participate in this program as soon as possible.
There are many simple things you can do to reduce your energy consumption as well as keep your self cool in the summer time, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/heating_cooling.html and http://www.energy.gov/heatingcooling.htm. An example that I can think of includes putting shades on your windows to block out heat from sunlight. Fans can be used to cool down a room instead of bumping the a/c temperature way down. However, keep in mind that fans should be turned off while not in the room to save electricity. Even an ice cold drink can cool your body temperature to make you more comfortable.
This is a step in the right direction to being more efficient with our individual energy consumption levels.