Saturday, July 7, 2012

Staying Cool When it's Hot...without a/c

I started this discussion on facebook and decided to bring it on over here - I am really hoping for some more input and ideas so please comment if you can!

I'm excited.  My kids are excited.  I am making them into mini me's and I never even meant to.  I guess that happens on it's own doesn't it?

We have never used our Central air much - maybe 2 or 3 times a year. (Like when my relatives come over or we have a house party)  Until last year.  It was super humid here and we likely used it more like 10 different times.  We don't like using it.  We try every other possibility before succumbing but sometimes you just have to succumb.

Last week my children enthusiastically declared that we should try to go without the air conditioning for the whole summer.  Sure.  Sounds like a great idea.  Until the next week hit.  It was hot.  Really hot - above 40 two separate days - with the humid-ex.  But we made it!  It is cooler now and I can proudly say - we did it!

WHY do we do this?
Cost. We're cheap.  That's one big reason.  Check out this link where you can calculate the difference between using a fan and using the a/c.  I am astounded.  A fan run 24 hours a day would cost $11.00 a month versus Central air costs $69 per month if you only ran it 4 hours a day.  (never mind the difference if you run your a/c 24 hours a day!)  I hadn't actually looked at this. Wow - quite the difference!

I want to reduce my ecological footprint.  

Not because I am fanatic about it or an 'environmentalist' necessarily but because I love God and I love His world and I just want to take good care of it and teach my children to take good care of it.  As much as I can do, I do.  Of course there are things I can't control, but that which I can - I do.

It connects us to the outside world.  Like camping, we are constantly connected to how the outdoors are doing - what is the weather forecast and how is it out there.  Should we open up? Close up?  When we have the a/c on I find we lose touch with the outdoors and I like staying in tune.

So, that said - HOW are we doing this?

I feel like we have come to a sweet spot this summer.  We have made some changes that I will include in this list - and truly - it is working!  Our home stayed at or below comfortable 27 degrees until the last day (it did get up to 31 on the hottest day)  Before I begin - we do have a ranch style bungalow.  No upstairs.  Including a basement.  Clearly this gives us an advantage over 2 story houses or ones without basements.

1. We replaced a lot of windows and insulated more this last year.

2.We bought an expensive dehumidifier and it runs a lot - this makes a big big difference!  Yes this pulls hydro too but not as much and it isn't the same impact as a/c.

3.  We open AT NIGHT and close during the day during a high humidity period.  This takes keen observation.  As soon as I feel a 'hot breeze' coming in to my home, (sometimes at 8 am!) we close everything up as quick as we can!

4. We run a box fan in our window like this and we sleep with it on low all night.  I love this fan.  It also has an exhaust feature so if it is hot in the house, like if I am cooking, I run it and it totally takes the hot air OUT! The children too have a fan in front of them while they sleep.

5. I bought blackout material this year from Fabricland.  I lined my West window curtains with them.  (It is not black but it is white! Thick white) It looks like this and it is miraculous!  Our front living room used to heat up like an oven after 2 pm - now it stays lovely and cool.  I don't know why I waited 10 years before purchasing this stuff.  Now I just have to make sure my curtains are closed before 2 - when the sun comes around - and if I do - wow - it stays lovely in here.  I think I might line all my curtains!!

6.  We take it easy on hot days.  I never use my oven, rarely my stove, I try not to vacuum, or clean house.  We lay low - do all our work in the early hours and then chill out or go somewhere - like the library or local pool to cool down during the heat of the day.  

Changing our habits during a heat wave can make a big difference.  Even if you still want to use your a/c - and I know some have to due to allergies and asthma - you can reduce your usage significantly by just being aware and slowing down.

What are your ideas? I would love to hear how the rest of you cope with heat waves?  What about those of you in high rise apartments with no a/c?  How hot does it get there and what do you do? 

Apparently we are going to have lots more this summer so let's get together and do some brainstorming!