For the first 33 years of my life I lived in houses that had no air conditioning, but I did not consider it a form of suffering. Today I do have central air conditioning in my home, but I use it only a handful of times each summer despite heat waves. A number of simple strategies can help most people stay comfortable with less A/C:
- Trap cooler air by opening windows at night or early in the morning. When it starts to warm up outside, shut the windows.
- Close blinds or curtains on the sunny side of the house to keep the heat out.
- To fall asleep on a hot night, take a shower right before bed and set your fan on a timer so that it does not run all night.
- Listen to the long-range weather forecast. Anticipate both the hot and cooler days so that you can plan ahead. Cooler days are perfect for cooking or baking extra quantities of food for the hot days.
- If you have a finished basement, eat and sleep down there on the hottest days. This is more of an adventure than a hardship!
Changing your cooking routine on hot days will stop you from adding extra heat to the house.
- Avoid using your oven or stove top on the main floor of the house
- Use smaller appliances such as a toaster oven, crock-pot or electric frying pan. They can be plugged in outdoors or in the basement!
- Collect recipes for main dish salads, cold soups and more-than-just-meat on the barbecue.
- Cook early in the morning or later at night and then reheat in the microwave at dinnertime.
If you do use an air conditioner, do not set it at “room temperature.” Since A/C removes humidity from the air 70 degrees feels like you’re in an icebox. Turn up the thermostat even 7 degrees and it will still be comfortable (but more affordable).