A/C Free in Chicago

What started as a joke with our neighbor has grown into a tiny obsession in our home. Months ago on a warm spring day our neighbor chatted with my husband Andy and I about the surrounding homes running their AC full tilt so early in the season. Since our windows were open, we could hear the incessant humming of the machines. Who wouldn’t long for the cool, refreshing breeze wafting into their home after a long winter we wondered.

Once the conversation turned to greening our lives, I made a wager with my neighbor that he would turn on his AC before us. Quick to take the bet, I am guessing our neighbor thought he had it made. Here we are with two young sons and a proclivity for indulgence. We seemed like a good target for weakness once the temps reach 90 degrees for sure (I did not reveal to him I am pretty adamant about my wagers and a little crazy!). When we shook hands, I deviously envisioned him keeping firm in his resolve but questioned whether his son would do the same when he returned home from college. (Sidebar- just picture me like Mr. Burns tapping the ends of my fingers… you got it!) I was pretty sure I had an ace in the hole.

Now I had to work on Andy. Even when we had a 4000sq ft home we cooled that baby to 68 degrees (hold your breath) even at night! Oh, for the kids mind you… uh huh. Now I shudder looking back at the money and energy wasted in those empty rooms (Note to self- don’t do that again!). So I start investigating fans and how to purchase and use them efficiently. The most obvious benefit is using them only when you are in a room and then turning it off when you leave. At night we leave the windows wide open (thank you ADT motion sensors) and then reduce large amounts of sunlight (especially upstairs) during the day to keep the house cool. After adding some clear energy efficient film to the skylight windows it made a huge difference. My husband and my kids have not requested AC yet so we are planning to go the whole season AC free!

Selfishly, I am happy to report that my neighbor’s AC mysteriously turned on about 30 minutes after his son came home. No, he will not live it down. And every time the weather channel reports over 90 degrees and one listens for the hum at our house, they will only hear the whisper soft whishing of our fans.

Original 5 Minutes for Going Green Post. You can read more from Jen at her blog The EcoChic Organizer and subscribe to her blog at www.functionandspace.blogspot.com.

5 Responses to A/C Free in Chicago
  1. JAM
    July 19, 2008 | 9:42 am

    Good for you!!! What did you win?

  2. Jennifer (The Eco Chic Organizer)
    July 19, 2008 | 11:56 am

    My neighbor now has to make a spectacular dinner for us!! Of course, during the course of the bet I was trash talking that I wouldn’t turn it on all summer (I am so tough!!) And now it’s taken on a life of its own. :) Thank God for the rain last night!!!!

  3. JAM
    July 19, 2008 | 1:12 pm

    Well, you are doing awesome so far. My friend in Libertyville has had hers on all summer! out here in Boston, I’ve turned it on a few times for a few hours each, mostly to be able to make dinner without killing any of my kids!!!

  4. Jessica
    July 19, 2008 | 10:05 pm

    I love it! Competitive environmentalism. That’s what our earth needs! Really. Seriously, though, I loved this post. It made me laugh because I can totally picture myself sweating it out so that I wouldn’t lose a bet.

    Oh, and my neighbor actually lives similarly without turning on her A.C. until 4 p.m. when her husband returns home from his physical, outdoor labor position. I am in awe of her commitment to saving energy. Her tips are to keep the shades drawn and windows shut, use fans and when it gets really hot, hang out in the basement or get outside to a pool.

    Anyway, thanks again for a great post!

  5. Jennifer (The Smart Mama)
    July 21, 2008 | 1:41 am

    Congratulations on winning! We have only turned on ours once so far this season – when I was sick with a horrible headache and just could not take it. Otherwise, we’ve made do. And I swear by using my rose and lime hydrosols as cooling mists. I keep them in the refrigerator and spritz when I get too hot.