GOING OFF THE AC

I just wrote about not being able to work the AC at the last event saying it was good practice for the future.

I picked up that quite a few people were uncomfortable with the room being warm but if only they knew it has hip and trendy now!  With this latest article in the NY Times, it seems more and more people are unplugging their AC and going natural.

We kids have lived without AC all our lives so this concept is nothing new to us but it’s neat to read about other peoples experiences and how they deal with going au naturel.

Farmer D always told us people survived the heat long before air conditioning coming up with sensible and practical ways to beat the heat – opening windows, doors, etc.   Living without AC you become more responsible for your actions – do you heat up the kitchen or opt for solar cooking or no cooking instead.  You dress appropriately and change your habits according to season, making you more aware of you natural surroundings.  And because we as kids lived without central air or heat I personal thing we are better off for it –  certainly healthier.

THE UNCHILLED LIFE

TO many Americans, abstaining from air-conditioning is a masochistic folly akin to refusing Novocain or renouncing the dishwasher.

Yet as this particular summer finally heats up, even citizens who believe that climate control is a God-given right may be questioning whether it has become a luxury they can no longer afford. They are probably also wondering how they can survive without it.

Those who’ve done just that like to point out that air-conditioning is a relatively recent boon to humanity: The Allies won World War II without it, and the great pyramids of Egypt were built al fresco. Today, fans of the unchilled life say that it is not only possible to turn back the clock and live as one with summer, but to do it while maintaining a fairly high quality of life.

Read full NY TImes article

So readers how are you dealing with the heat?  Care to share your no AC experiences.

Tips for living without air conditioning

Make it thru the summer without air conditioning

Comments(21)

  1. Kristi says:

    Thanks for the tips! Most people in the Seattle area don’t have ac, and we’re in for a week of 90+ temperatures, so your post is very timely. I’ll be trying some of them out as we sizzle this week.

  2. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife says:

    Until this week we’d had an abnormally cool summer. Now we’re seeing proper summer heat and humidity, yet we haven’t turned on the AC yet at all. I posted about ways of beating the heat as my monthly Frugal Action Item for July. A big factor is the need to allow your body to make the change. Last night I slept decently in a room that was 78 F. I couldn’t have done that in June, but my body has adjusted because I gave it the opportunity.

    http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2009/07/july-frugal-action-item-stay-cool.html

  3. Cassandra says:

    I live in Arizona and AC is almost required here. It’s been up to 115 already this summer. Yuck. My husband and I stuck it out as long as possible and didn’t turn the AC on until the very end of June. We keep it about 88 degrees in here. Everyone who knows us tells us that we are out of our minds to live in such a warm apartment but we can’t afford a higher electric bill… We’ll turn the AC off as soon as we can at the end of the summer, probably in another 4-6 weeks.

    As much as I would love to never turn the AC on, the extreme heat ruins the fruit on my counter and I can’t sleep at night if it’s over 95 degrees in here. Tried and failed. 🙂

    So while we are not “perfect” about AC usage, we do the best we can!

  4. Andrea says:

    We live in Ohio, so honestly you never know what you’re going to get weatherwise. We had a 90+ degree heatwave in May, then several days in June that it didn’t get over 60. We do use the air, mainly to control humidity and only when it’s really crazy hot. We keep it set around 78 degrees…just enough to take off the burn.

    My favorite ways to cool off: popsicles with my children and jumping in the pool fully clothed…just to see the expressions on the kids’ faces.

  5. Rachel says:

    Like Cassandra, I’m also in AZ. When people used to live here without A/C it was before the “heat island effect” so central Phoenix got a lot more summer rain and it also actually cooled down at night because everyone wasn’t surrounded by miles of pavement and buildings. We keep our house around 85, but the summer temps in our house would hover around 100+ inside the house. Not really possible. I wish our climate was as temperate as yours…
    This is sort of like issuing a challenge to people in Michigan to go without heat and just use sweaters and hats in the winter.

  6. Stacy says:

    I grew up in CA and never had AC until I moved to Texas. I dont know how people did it here before AC but it is difficult. We have had 95+ for 7 weeks with high humidity. I spend the early am hours doing what I need to do outside until I am swarmed by mosquitos, then back inside. Without the AC to decrease the humidity everything in the house gets moldy. I think for the warmer climates it is more about making your house more efficient so the AC isnt on constantly. We have plans to replace the single pane windows, improve insulation and venting in the attic and at some point we want the AC to be run from solar panels.

  7. Chiot's Run says:

    I grew up in South America right on the equator and it was HOT. But we didn’t have AC, but the houses were built out of cement and cooler than our homes here.

    We live in Ohio and have only used our AC for a day or two this summer, we also use it mainly to control humidity because we have a lot of expensive electronic equipment for our business and the humidity is a bit tough on those things.

    I don’t mind the heat as much as my husband does. We did install ceiling fans in each room and that helps. We also try not to bake on hot days.

  8. CatHerder says:

    I grew up without airconditioning, it never really bothered me. My mom always pulled the shades on the side of the house the sun was hitting on, and kept all our windows open a crack. We lived in the city…complete with smog and city busses, unhealthy air, but got through it. When it was REALLY bad they would put sheets up to separate the livingroom from the kitchen, and put a huge block of ice in a big pan, and put the fan behind it. I rarely put the AC on now, and only do so because i have cats, one of which is asthmatic and on medication, the AC helps him. I do, however, insist the ceiling fans be kept on…i know they dont do anything to cool the home, just the people, but thats fine with me.

  9. Maureen says:

    We are in the Central Valley of CA and are in a similar situation to the Arizona folks….just came off 11days of 100+ degree temps. and we’re already into another round of HOT. When it gets back into the 90’s for more than a day or so, everyone starts talking about a ‘cooling trend’. Our AC gets used sparingly (just ask our kids:) We keep the temp. set at 88 and try to keep it off till late afternoon. We have fans in every room and a whole-house fan going every night. It can get a bit uncomfortable but we live with it because we think it’s worth the sacrifice.
    I truly believe that if we started building homes to accommodate the heat rather than depending on the AC we could improve the comfort level considerably and the AC would not be needed nearly as much.

    ps. and frankly, 78 would seem cold here 😉

  10. Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings says:

    I live in the South were humidity gets you worse than the heat itself.

    We have been leaving the AC off up until about 3pm when it gets really muggy in here. We do have ceiling fans and use those as well as opening the windows, and closing any west/south facing curtains when it gets to awful.

    We went all last week with just the ceiling fans and windows open… but then again, the temps were comfortable last week and it peaked in the 90’s here on Saturday.

    It’s been weird weather here this year. Thankfully it’s been cooler and not a lot of AC running has had to be done.

  11. Jude says:

    We live a in a dry climate and use a swamp cooler. How does that rate against AC? There is a big difference in them on how they cool and from what I hear they are more efficient. I usually turn it on mid afternoon so the house cools off somewhat before bed time and it gets turned off in the early evening. The only time it is turned on early is if I know we are going to be above 98. Other than that I try to use good ventilation to keep the house cool. I hate a closed up home even in the heat of the day.

  12. Alice says:

    Never in my 61 yeas have I had AC. I now live in NW MT we have been having near 100 days. I have lived in VA, NC, KY, GA, and TN all with out AC. I opened the window at night and used fans to bring in the cool air. In the moringing I close the windows on the hot side of the house. That is the one that the sun is shining on at that time. Window cover are a must. At this time I am using Space blankets, you know the foil looking emergancy ones. May look weird but who cares?
    So as the sun moves so does the windows that are open.
    I use fans to move the air around too.
    If I am working outside I wet my head and work until my hair dries and then wet it again. A wet towel around your neck does wonders too, inside or out.
    Drink plenty of water. And strange as it seems a cup of hot tea helps too.
    As for the comment about living without heat in the winter. Well my house is never warm in the winter either. Water will freeze sitting on the floor. Sweaters, hats and many layers is the game plan then. I have feather tick for the bed in winter and many layers of blankets. Blankets on sofa for when you sit to visit or watch TV. It can be done you must be committed to doing so.
    Or as in my case there is no choice and deal with it.

  13. TJ Ferreira says:

    I would die without AC at certain points of the year. Having Asthma, I need some relief from both the heat and the very POOR quality air that California has during these heat waves. Been 100 here it seems all summer. We have a 2 story home and it is sweltering up stairs. My pets would also have issues without AC. One is a Siberian Husky with a fur coat you could not believe so she is in with me all day when it is so hot outside. If I did not have AC, then at least I would do a Swamp Cooler. They take much less energy to run and help cool you donw a tad. tj

  14. GreenDave says:

    I live in the Texas Panhandle and i have not used AC once this summer. At night time the temp drops about 15 degrees even more than during the day. So the only thing i have to deal with is the day time. In the cool mornings i do all of my yard work and tend to my animals. Then when it hits the peek of day time heat i go to the local public library and read books. When it comes to my dog i have two poms and i get their hair shaved off every summer. The dogs love it and they dont need the AC either. My other animals all get frozen 2 liter coke bottles of water and they will either sit on them of lay on them. So i think those who talked about not being able to go without AC, could if you really tried!! GreenDave

  15. Lucy says:

    We just survived a couple weeks of 100* plus in a small metal trailer. Our secrets? We put shade cloth over the trailer so it was only as hot as the air outside, and not baking in the sun, and when it was really hot we didn’t work – we lay down with wet sarongs draped over us, and sprayed each other with water from spray bottles. Helps that our schedule is flexible, but farmin’ in the heat isn’t so much fun even so!

  16. TJ Ferreira says:

    The spraying each other with water bottles sounds fun. An adult water fight it sounds like to me. Nice. tj

  17. Tracy says:

    I think it is perhaps harder for you, in Pasadena, to live without A/C that it is for us here on the prairie, even though our temps soar higher. But we have the blessed benefit of shade trees and breezes of the open prairie. So we have always lived without A/C. However, those who live in the city must find it so much worse – the buildings block the breezes, the concrete and glass all magnify the heat of the sun, etc. I don’t know how well I would do if I were trapped in a city in the heat.

  18. Cc says:

    I heard that way back in the 40’s and 50’s, people would get old sheets, and wet them, then hang them in the door ways. That way the wind would blow them and they would keep the heat down a little. People did this in AZ. So it must work!… Cc

  19. CE says:

    I am an early riser so as soon as I get up, I open the windows and put large box fans into each window. Our nights here in the Pacific Northwest tend to cool down so by 5am the air outside is cool enough to chill the house. By doing this each am I keep the walls and furniture from heating up and the house stays cooler. I close the windows and turn off the fans by about 6:30 pr 7 am because the sun has taken the chill off the air and it won’t cool anymore. The fans will move the air but why waste the power? The cooler air is gone. The house will stay 10-15 degrees cooler than outside. In the eveing as the air temps drop I open the house up again and the breeze blows through. On days that I work, the house feels air conditoned when I get home, just from chilling it for an hour or so each am. I am lucky to have a house with windows oriented to the prevailing winds and my house stays cooler, open or closed, than my sisters and hers sits under tall shady trees. She gets no breeze because her windows aren’t faced right. I use the sun to heat in the winter and block the sun from hitting the house in the summer. That really helps. Especially weeks like this one where the temps are nearing 100. I agree that allowing the body to move with the seasons works better than trynig to adjust the environment.

  20. Chookie says:

    The problem I keep coming back to is poor house design. We are fortunate in that we knew to pick a house that faced the sun (North here) and with only a few windows east and west. We have ceiling insulation. On hot days we close all the doors and windows and draw blinds etc so that rooms that become hotter don’t transmit heat to the cooler rooms. On humid nights, we use fans to keep us a bit cooler while we sleep (evaporative methods like swamp coolers don’t work in humid climates like Sydney’s). We open windows and doors to cool breezes in the evenings, and eat appropriate food (Vietnamese noodle salads are perfect for stifling evenings!). Now it’s winter, so we put on a heater in ONE room in the evenings, dress more warmly, and put draught snakes under the external doors.
    To our astonishment, some friends who live in eastern Sydney, where the climate is a bit milder than ours, had a power bill of $800 last quarter. Ours was $200 (I’m sure we could get it lower if we tried!). I don’t think our solar water heating has made that much difference: it’s the poor orientation and design of our friends’ house that has made it so cold in winter and so hot in summer.

  21. anna says:

    I grew up in S. Cal. with no AC. Some tricks I learned growing up- let the cool morning air in and then close up the house til evening, use fans with a pan of water in front of them (dry climate), cook in the morning so you can have a cold dinner without heating up the kitchen, mist your bed sheets with a water bottle when you lay down for the night, re-spray as needed during the night, shower 2 times a day (cool) once in the a.m. to start cool and once in the p.m., drink a lot of water, wear thin cotton pj’s or nightgowns.

    I moved to Boise as an adult. Very hot and dry here in the summer. We installed ceiling fans in each room, installed better windows/doors, use insulated curtains (good for winter too and now MUCH cheaper), keep the blinds closed on the west bedrooms all the time, use the AC when it’s over 85 or so, but sparingly, and use all the above, keeps the bills down and not such a shock when you go outside. When it’s 100 I try to stay inside during the afternoon and do yard work in the am or around sunset, much more bearable…. I’d like to move somewhere with milder summers and winters…

    And Rachel, you can’t die from the heat if you’re sensible, BUT you can die from hypothermia!

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