Surviving the Summer without Air Conditioning

by Erich

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

keeping cool in summer without acYes, believe it or not, it can be done.

No, it won’t be an easy thing but it has and is being done all over the world for a lot longer than air conditions have been around.

I remember when I was a very young girl my parents putting in our first air conditioner and us kids laying on the living room floor basking in the cool air. Air conditioning as we know it now has only been around for like 40 years or so. Man has always looked for a way to stay cool in the summer.

Low-Tech Tips on Keeping Cool in the Summer

Here are some ideas and tips to make your air conditioner less summer more bearable:

  • If you can switch up your work schedule. Put the outside chores for early in the morning or later in the evening and leave the hottest part of the day for inside the house or just sitting around.
  • Wear cool clothes but do cover up. I find I am cooler in my skirts than in my shorts! Always wear a hat or a bonnet when working outside. Clothes make shade for your body and protect it from the direct rays of the sun.
  • Drink a lot! Water or Gatorade is better than soda for you but really it is all about the cool drink cooling you off from the inside.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal during the hottest part of the day. The body creates heat digesting food and will just make you hotter.
  • Seek shade just like animals do. Find the coolest place in the house; a basement, the north side of the house, the part of the house that is under a tree and shaded things like that.
  • Try getting wet if only your feet (I’m soaking my piggy’s in a bucket of cool water right now as I write this and it helps!) Dampen your head/hair and put a cool wet rag on your neck. You will be surprised at how much that really does help.
  • If it is really hot hit the library and enjoy their air conditioning! Or go to the city pool (not me I’m WAY too shy!) or walk the mall.

And Some More Involved Tips…

Those ideas are low tech and cheap! Here are a few that are a little more involved:

  • Fans! The moving air will help dissipate your sweat making you feel much cooler. Try putting a big block of ice (like what you would get for a cooler) behind the fan so the air gets sucked over the ice and it will drop the temp in a small room noticeably.
  • If you live in a dry hot climate try “swamp coolers” or evaporative fans. These are fans that have little hoses and nozzles on them that spray a fine mist in the air.
  • Cover south facing windows during the day to keep out the sun and open windows on the cooler north side or ones that are located under trees. This is just the reverse of what you would want to do in the winter.
  • Open windows at night to bring the cooler night air in and close them during the day to retain the cool air for as long as possible.

Tips on Building a “Summer-Proof” Home

If you know in advance of building your home that you are not going to be having air conditioning here are some ideas that you can incorporate into the build:

  • Make for sure that there are large deciduous trees shading the south and west sides of the house. Trees release water vapor from their leaves when they “breathe” and it is much cooler under a tree!
  • Build your house out of rock, stone or concrete. Works great for both winter and summer by storing heat in the walls and keeping the inside cooler/warmer.
  • Heck build your house underground! Even just the depth of a normal home deep will keep the house cooler in the summer because of the mass of earth around it on all sides. Go real crazy and build your home in a cave!
  • If you are building a “normal” stud frame home bulk up on insulation in the walls and ceiling and situate the windows and doors for maximum air flow throughout the home.
  • Put awnings over the very necessary south windows to shade out the high hot summer sun but allow the lower cooler winter sun in to passively warm the house in the winter. Make all windows insulated or double-paned.

Summer is not an easy time for man or beast but we all can make it as long as we think and take precautions.

That and you will become accustomed to not having air conditioning it is called acclimating and when you go to an air conditioned place you will find it uncomfortably cold! It usually takes about two weeks of dealing with the heat and sweating like a horse before you are acclimated but after that you will see your spoiled friends gasping and sweating while you just motor on!

Enjoy the summer it does not last forever!

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Comment by davidjbloom93
2016-08-26 04:32:01

I have been living in NE Arizona off grid at 5300 ft el. for 4 years now. I have lived in the desert/ metro valley of AZ all my life, so dealing with heat; recreating, working out in it was normal.
Keep the sun out of the house; light equals heat. Try to insulate as best as possible. But remember once heat is in it stays in until extracted/evacuated. Hang out in the shade as much as possible during the day. I have had to “create” shade as my property has NO large trees. I have concocted a make shift canopy by parking my truck on the west side of my cabin and stretching a tarp between the two.
I generally try to stay out of the sun between 1000 and 1600 hrs. The redeeming factor is I work nights ,3rd shift at 7100 feet and sleep/enjoy cool days in the shade of pine trees 3 days out of the week . So I only have to deal with summer heat the other 3 days.
I figure it this way, people managed to thrive and survive for thousands of years in temperate climates, so can I. It is only because of the hustle and bustle of 24 hour life that AC is necessary in hotter climates. People used to “siesta” during the hottest part of the day and sleep out in screened porches called ” Arizona rooms” before the luxury of AC.

Comment by Elizabeth L. Johnson
2016-09-25 16:15:06

I live in northern California, an area known to have more sunny days than Florida! Our temps are often above 100 degrees F. Living off-grid and on Top of the World as our house-site has been dubbed by locals, we get every ounce of sunlight. Also considered a banana-belt or temperate zone at 1,500 feet elevation, our vegetable garden lasts into December. We do everything the writer of this article says: it works! Another help, is to get up during the night when temps finally cool, open windows and let warm walls cool. Continue monitoring thermometer until you seeing temps rising. On the shady side of the house keep windows open, then close as needed to keep coolness inside. Shades are a must, before the light even gets close to windows. We use our swamp cooler as little as possible, saving our battery energy from solar panels. Stay cool!

Comment by offgrid
2017-01-17 11:49:07

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You have some really good articles and I think I
would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d
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Please send me an email if interested. Kudos!

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Comment by CURRY BRADY
2017-04-04 09:26:10

Really very much interesting blog! We can’t survive without AC in summer.
Some people are use to Air Conditioner. This blog is very much true.
Thank You!

2017-10-31 10:26:17

Very well said. You have provided the most simplest but informative

Comment by Bearcat
2018-02-23 15:28:58

Great article! Full of good, sensible information.
Keep up the good work!

Comment by David cohen
2018-03-06 22:12:58

My family is moving across the country and need some movers to help us haul our stuff. Thanks for the advice about working it into the budget and doing a spending freeze to loosen up some extra cash for moving.

Comment by Corr
2019-12-07 10:24:51

I advise you to write such sorts of articles every day
to give the audience like me all the essential information. In my view, it’s better to
be ready for all of the unexpected situations beforehand,
so thanks, it was pretty cool.

Comment by Tommy Nies
2019-12-07 11:10:35

I didn’t have any expectations concerning that name, but then the longer I was astonished.
The writer did a great job. I spent a couple of minutes studying and checking the facts.

Everything is crystal clear and understandable. I like posts that fill in your
knowledge gaps. This one is of that sort. Moreover,
I like how the writer organized his thoughts as well as the visual part.

Comment by Cara Queen
2019-12-19 14:08:50

Summer-proof home is a great idea. I think AC is not an optimum option.

Comment by Moving Helpers
2020-01-10 08:49:05

Moving an air condition is a hole piece of science. Better to choose other option to feel comfortable.

Comment by Kim Terry
2020-03-26 18:26:37

Thank you so much for posting these fabulous and absolute tips!
The hardest part for many people considering a long-distance move is bidding farewell to loved ones. If you have close family and friends in your hometown, it will be difficult to adjust to not having them accessible to you at any time. It may be easier than ever to keep in touch during the age of Facebook and Skype, but there is little substitute for a hug from your mom or a meal with your best pal when you’re feeling blue.

Comment by Joey galapon
2020-04-07 21:16:31

My family is moving to a new city and need the best interstate moving companies to help us load our stuff. Thanks for the advice!

Comment by eper gaboni
2020-04-07 21:19:37

If you are moving a ton of belonging finding the best interstate moving companies will save you a headache. I moved recently. Thanks for this wonderful article!

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