Staying Cool Without Air Conditioning

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Cassiodorus
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Here's an interesting article with tips for living without air conditioning. The article talks about bringing in cool air in the morning, what types of houses are most efficient (look for a north-south orientation, if you can), and the cooling effect of trees and plants.

Sophie Gale
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In Olden Days

How homes kept cool before the age of AC

Many of these were features of the house where I grew up (built 1911).

Sophie Gale
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Time/temp sign a block from

Time/temp sign a block from my building said 101 when I got home at 3 pm.--and I still don't have the a/c in the window yet.  Facebook says it's 96 right now at 7 pm.  I live on the first floor, so I can't leave the house open when I'm gone.  I made sure I had a cool shower before I left and took the 12" tornado fan out of the bathroom and set it up in the living room for the cats. It's powerful but it has a stable base so I don't have to worry about them knocking it over.  I get sun on the back of the house until about 1 pm every day, but I leave the patio door open so the heat doesn't build up behind south-facing glass doors.  There's a jalousie (sp) window the north side and it's open from May to October or there abouts.  The apartment was pleasantly cooler than the patio when I got inside.

Sun starts moving to the front of the house about the time I got home. Patio door is closed, but the kitchen door is open about 6". I could feel a bit of a breeze coming through the jalousie window.  Bathroom window over the patio is open.  One window in the spare room in the front of the house is open; I couldn't budge the other one, and it was too warm to futz with it. It has no screen on it; the a/c goes in there.  I put the 20" box fan in the open window, blowing out and partially closed the door to the spare room, because wind tends to move faster through a smaller space, and faster is generally cooler.  I've been parked in front of the tornado, and it is moving a lot of air.  I was surprising comfortable until about 6:30 when the setting sun drops below the porch awning and hits the front of the house full blast.  Now it's noticeably oppressive but not absolutely miserable.  I'm in shorts and a tank top, the big, furry cat is not hanging on me...  I had cold food:  cocoa on ice, half a can of pineapple from the refrigerator, and cold hard-boiled eggs.  I'm good for a while (except somebody just lit up some weed...pee u!)

Only supposed to be 86 tomorrow with thunderstorms.  We haven't had rain in a week, and I've been toting six or seven gallons a day to the patio. Maybe I will get the a/c in tomorrow.

dtrammel
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2nd Year W/O AC

My own AC went out last Summer, and (blush) I haven't yet told my landlord (I live in a rented duplex), that its out.

Part of it, is he is an old family friend, and I know he would struggle to pay for the several thousand to replace the system.

The other part is, here in Missouri, we are blessed with basements. I have an old futon couch, that folds out to a bed downstairs. It helps I work third shift, getting home in the morning while its still cool. My second bedroom upstairs has a ceiling fan and it keeps the room cool enough til I'm ready for bed.

Its a bit hot when I get up at 8pm, and I was going to put in an attic fan but the ummer seems to have come and nearly gone. Maybe next year...

My experience has convinced me to look into earth sheltering for the cabin in the woods I hope to retire on in the next decade.

Kay Robison
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We live in Salt Lake without

We live in Salt Lake without AC in the house and manage to maintain a reasonable level of comfort during hot summer weather.  We open the house in the evening once the temperature inside equals that outside.  We use an electric fan in the bedroom to draw in cool air and push it across the bed at night.  Diagonally through the house we have a kitchen window open and a box fan that pushes hot air from the house.  Makes a nice cooling draft.

We have installed insulated windows and much attic insulation which helps keep the cool inside the house once it has been drawn in.  As long as the night time temperatures are in the low 70's or upper 60's, we can sleep comfortably and keep the house quite cool during a hot (upper 90's to low 100's) day.  If the night time temperatures are in the upper 70's or low 80's, then I have to use a wet washcloth on my chest with the fan blowing air across it to get cool enough to sleep and the house is much warmer during the day but still cooler then outside.

For food prep I have rigged a summer kitchen outside and we can cook anything we need to without heating up the house.  Since I do a lot of canning, this is really important.  I was gifted with several yards of shade cloth and made a nice shade tarp to cover the summer kitchen and it has been of real help this year as we can our produce or prepair supper.

I have noticed that it takes me a few weeks to get acclimatized to the summer's heat, but by the end of the summer it doesn't seem too bad.  I do everything I can to stay comfortable without the use of AC (park in the shade, loose clothing, lots of cold tea) and I think it helps me make the adjustment to the heat.  The only AC we have is in our car and on long road trips through the desert, we will make use of it.  I don't use it during my daily drives unless I have a less heat adapted passenger.

It is very possible to live without AC.

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Magpie
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Open the house at night?

I'm curious as to why the house is only opened in the morning. In the places I've lived without AC (8 places in the last ten years), we've left the windows open all night. Only opening them in the morning is going to mean a hotter house. If you live somewhere it's safe to open the windows, I highly recommend it! It allows all the walls, floors, and stuff in the house to cool off overnight and add provide some thermal inertia to the warming process during the day.

Bugs do get in if you don't have screens, though!