In honor of today’s high of 99, I thought it would be apropos to share our best tips for living without air conditioning.
. We live in Delaware where the average high temperature is around 90F with a few days approaching and exceeding 100F and the humidity ranges from 82-100% all summer. One thing people are frequently surprised by is that Matt and I choose to live without air conditioning. Yep, you read that right. Without air conditioning. Voluntarily.
We believe that air conditioning is a waste of electricity (yes, fans use electricity, but not nearly as much.), can be unhealthy for the lungs and bad for the environment. Now, if you choose to use it, that’s cool (see what I did there?). We’re not judging anyone else, of course.
For a while, we tried air conditioning, too. As a tree surgeon, Matt found that being in the air conditioning in the evenings and night time just made the daytime heat feel that much worse. I had far more sinus infections and bouts of bronchitis. We find it’s easier for us with our outdoors lifestyle, primarily fishing, tree removal and gardening in the summer, to avoid air conditioning. Once you’ve adjusted to it, the heat is not particularly that bad. We have some tips and tricks that we use to cope with the heat.
- Acceptance. For real, just accept that you’re going to be hot in the summer. That’s just how it works. You’ll be far less grumpy if you acknowledge and embrace that fact.
- Proper window usage. During the day, I keep my windows covered by large pieces of fabric. (In your house, you might use curtains, but my boys seem to think that curtain rods are merely indoor monkey bars. I can’t keep them up for anything.) I tack the fabric to the wall above the window. No, it doesn’t look fancy, but it does the job. In the evening, once it is cooler outside than in, I open the windows and put window fans in to draw the cool air into the house. Then, in the morning before it gets too warm outside, I take the fans out of the windows and shut the windows to keep as much of the cool air as possible.
- Basements. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this trick, but it worked wonderfully. When I had a basement with an entrance inside the house, I would put a baby gate in the door way and place a fan in front of it. It would pull the much cooler basement air up into the house during the day when the windows were shut.
- Stay inside. Avoid the outdoors during the hottest part of the day, if you can. Particularly avoid difficult physical labor in full sun, unless your job requires it. Otherwise, they might fire you if you don’t
- Go outside. Conversely, go outside in the morning and stay out until you can’t stand it anymore. The house will feel very cool by comparison. Plus, fresh air is good for you!
- Water work. Do you have any work you could do outside that uses the hose? We wash the dogs, something they hate but the cold water is nice. Scrubbing coolers, though never fun, is made more bearable by being able to sink your arms into cold, soapy water. I guess you could wash your car, if you’re into that sort of thing. (We just wait for a rain storm or until we drive under an irrigator placed close to the road.)
- Stay hydrated. Drink. A lot. Not alcoholic beverages, or at least too many since they dehydrate, but water, flavored or otherwise, is great. I find a few drops of orange essential oil encourage me to drink more. We go through about a gallon of iced tea a day between us. It’s so cheap and easy to make that we keep at least two gallons in the refrigerator at all times.
- Eat cold foods. Not only does this include things like popsicles and ice cream, but you should also keep snacks and meals cold too. Plan ahead if you know a heat wave is coming. For instance, we went to the store to stock up on sliced cheeses, meats, and fruits. I made a huge bowl of pasta salad for us to eat for meals, since I add meat and cheese.
- Eat water filled foods. We eat a lot of vegetables and fruits with high water content, such as sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, chunks of watermelon and cantaloupe, and grapes. It’s a great way to snack and stay hydrated at the same time.
- Stay out of AC. If you can, stay out of places that use air conditioning. If it’s unavoidable, try going earlier in the day when the difference between the inside temperature and the outside temperature is not as high. Of course, by time I leave the grocery store, I’m freezing and ready to go warm up in the hot car.
- Get up early. I find it’s easier to get up earlier and get things done, particularly outside, while it’s still relatively cool out. During the warm season, we will put off breakfast in order to get work done first. As the day progresses and the red in the thermometer rises, we tend to have less and less motivation until it cools off again much later in the evening.
- Naps. There’s a reason that many countries near the equator still have siestas during the hottest parts of the day. Naps help guard against the energy-sucking heat. While I find it difficult to get my sons to nap anymore, we do have quiet time at 2pm in the afternoon when they are allowed to watch a movie, one of the few times the tv is on during the day. They are required to lay on the couch and not allowed to get up. I use that time to quietly work on the computer, sitting right in front of a fan.
- Water play. Play in the water. If you live close enough to a water feature, you could drive to the ocean, river or lake. Pools are great if you know someone with one. In our house, this frequently is just filling a pot with water and allowing the kids to use squirters I got from the Dollar Tree to squirt each other. I also let them use the hose to “water the garden” which usually ends up with them as wet as the plants. If you have a slide, you can drag your hose over to it and make your own water slide. That was a huge hit here!
- Cool showers. Before bed, the boys take a bath with cool water to help them cool down before bedtime. The water evaporating off of them helps to cool them down further while they sleep. I take cold showers before bed, if I’m feeling particularly warm, for much the same reasons.
- Love the one you’re with. I hesitated to share this one because it’s kinda personal, but Matt assures me that we’ve been married eight years and have two kids. No one thinks we’re not, so might as well put this out there. (Sorry, Mom Mom, if you’re reading this). If you can muster the strength, show the one you love that you love them. After a sweaty bout of lovins, you’ll be so tired and the evaporating sweat will cool you off enough to put you to sleep. Plus, all those lovely wellness endorphins that go along with it. Give it a try. At any rate, your relationship would be better off for it.
While going without AC is not for everyone, if you’re looking to lower your electric bill or are ready to make the leap for more philosophical reasons, give these tips a try. They work here on the Kemp Freehold.