Surviving the Summer without Air Conditioning
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.
Yes, 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!