Keeping Your Cool When it’s HOT, the Green Way

by Guest Contributor



                               

1032896_sun.jpgSummer is upon us and as the temperatures rise, so does our need to stay cool. Is it possible to beat the heat without (gasp) air conditioning? As someone who has been living in an A/C-free house for most of her life, I can tell you that it’s not always easy or pleasant, but I have picked up many techniques along the way to keep myself and my family as cool and comfortable as possible. Going without air conditioning might take a little getting used to and some creativity, but with my tips below, you will soon be on the path to living a cooler, greener summer.

  1. Turn off and unplug appliances when not in use, that means your computer too – but only when you’re done reading 5 Minutes for Going Green for the day. ;) All of those appliances use energy and generate heat.
  2. If you can avoid using your oven to cook and use a toaster oven or microwave or barbecue grill instead, do it.
  3. Keep your windows and doors closed and shades/blinds drawn during the day. This will help keep the heat out.
  4. When it cools off at night, open all of the windows, to let the house cool down. If you have a whole-house attic fan, turn it on at night (with windows open) to bring in the cool night air. Or you can position fans to draw the cold air into your house. In the morning, turn off the fans and seal up the house for the day.
  5. Keep yourself and the kids hydrated and drink lots of water.
  6. Eat cold or cool foods.
  7. Go to the lowest point in the house. Your basement is usually the coolest place to be. Spend the hottest part of the day down there to get some relief from the heat or consider moving your bed to the basement for the summer.
  8. If you live in an area with low humidity, consider using an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) to cool your house.
  9. Using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning will help keep the air circulating and uses a whole lot less energy than A/C.
  10. If you are staying inside for the day and feel comfortable doing so, shed some (or all) of your clothes. Kids will especially get a kick out of running around in nothing but their skivvies.
  11. If dropping your drawers isn’t for you, try soaking part or all of your shirt in lukewarm water, ringing it out and then putting it back on. Instant relief!
  12. Soak a washcloth in cold water and drape in on the back of your neck to send shivers down your spine.
  13. If you must be outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and remember to stay hydrated.

Lastly, if going without your air conditioner is truly not an option, you can still save energy (and green, of the money variety) by bumping up your thermostat up a few degrees. Try increasing it a degree at a time over several days until you reach 78 degrees or as high as your comfort permits. This will allow some time for you and your family to adjust to the change. Also close cooling vents and doors in rooms you aren’t using. Keep your A/C unit clean and in good running order by replacing filters as needed.

By adopting several of the techniques above, you’ll be doing a good thing for the earth and your utility bill. Now head on over to 5MFGG’s own Crunchy Chicken’s blog and sign up for her Keep Yer Cool challenge.

Original 5 Minutes for Going Green post.

You can read more from Amy Gates at her blog Crunchy Domestic Goddess where she writes about green living, attachment parenting, activism and maternal health. Subscribe to her blog here.

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1 Mel July 14, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Great tips!! I grew up without AC, but my husband cringes whenever I say let’s open the windows. We have increased our AC to 78 during the day and 75 at night. Still it didn’t seem to help the 300-some electric bill. Yikes!!

2 Amanda July 14, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Good tips!

We haven’t used our AC so far this summer (aside from one weekend when we had family visiting). I’m surprised that I don’t miss it all that much. If the heat gets to be too much we just head to the library or another air conditioned place to hang out for a while.

3 Azucar July 15, 2008 at 1:14 am

Oh lands! I can’t live without my air conditioner here in the wild west. Not to mention that we have terrible allergies if we do open the windows. I compromise by running the air as high as we dare in the summer, but not the heat in the winter. Even though it’s usually below freezing in the winter, I can deal with no heat. So, I’m a reverse-cycler.

4 Monica (Healthy Green Moms) July 15, 2008 at 11:30 am

Great tips,
Closing the windows before it gets hot in the morning really works for us. It feels hot inside, until we come back in after being outside! We have never had an AC, so I don’t know what I’m missing I guess :)

5 chelle July 15, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Awesome tips! We live without a/c and some days are worse than others for sure. We head out to the lake/beach when it gets terrible!

6 Candace (Mama Luxe) July 16, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Third trimester in the summer, once again…and we have no A/C. Hubby hates A/C but not for ecological reasons so much as he just doesn’t like it.

So, I had my father install ceiling fans in the Master Bedroom and Baby’s room. My biggest concern is that the kids don’t overheat at night.

We are considering a whole house fan as well in hopes it will cool off the second floor at night.

If you have an occasional really bad night, you can always wrap a wet cloth around your neck or underarms or thighs to get cooler.

7 Garrett July 24, 2008 at 12:15 am

To go with your #2 above (not using the oven), BBQ’ing is a great way to cook without heating up the house. I’ve noticed when I use the oven, it usually takes an extra hour or two to cool down the house, which means $$ spent running the A/C!

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