How to beat the heat without using air conditioning
Living without air conditioning
I've always loved the warm weather - doesn't everyone? Yet people are often surprised that we live in steamy South Florida and very rarely use power-gobbling appliances to cool our home.
There are several reasons why you might choose not to use AC but if you've never lived without it during a hot summer - or if you live in a climate where the sun beats down every day - you might think that it's simply not possible. But there are many ways to live comfortably without this drain on your finances and of course, the drain on our planet's resources.
After all, AC wasn't invented until the middle of the last century. It's only comparatively recently that people have relied on it to keep them cool and it IS possible to live without it. We only use ours at night time when the temperatures are in the nineties - that's maybe for a few days a year and then only when we're sleeping.
Sometimes, we have no choice but to live without air-conditioning. It may be that extreme weather has cut off our power supply (that happens often here in Florida) or maybe you've moved into a home that you plan to restore and AC isn't installed yet.
Whatever the reason, you can do it!
Why choose to live without air conditioning?
Why should you? It makes life more comfortable, after all. But so do a lot of things and foregoing AC could be for the following reasons.
It isn't cheap to run. During hot weather it can be the most expensive appliance in your house. Up-to-date units are more efficient of course, but if your AC is more than a few years old, the chances are that it costs you a lot of money that you'd prefer to use for other purposes. Units, filters and other components needs to be regularly serviced - at a cost - to make sure everything is running efficiently. This also adds to the overall cost. Should units break down, the repair bills can be huge.
Keeping energy usage to a minimum is important to most people today for environmental reasons, as well as financial ones. It is a huge drain on electrical resources. In many cases, the coolants that are used are also damaging to the planet and even though manufacturers are working to solve this, they're not all there yet,
If you use air conditioning daily, there will come a time when you're without it. That could be due to power outages, or because you're traveling in places that don't normally have AC in hotels. This can be unbearable if your body is used to your home's climate control. By not relying on AC at home, you're preparing your body for such eventualities.
So many people today hardly get any fresh air.at all. They move from their cooled home in their cooled car to the office with AC without so much as breathing good fresh air. They insulate their homes so that the expensive cooled air can't escape. Then, they buy purifiers to clean the atmosphere in their sealed homes - who knows what they (and their families) are breathing in. I prefer fresh air.
When the sun beats down ...
Tips for living in the heat
- USE FANS
Fans are inexpensive to buy and are much less costly to run than expensive air conditioning units. They are portable so can be moved from room to room. Fans circulate and move the air around in your home so you won't get that stale feeling in the atmosphere. Let the fresh air come in through open windows and let the fans do their work. We have a retro fan that we bought from a consignment store for just a few dollars and it's been in daily use since. They can be such a bargain and I've never known a fan break down or stop working. Ceiling fans are also wonderful for helping airflow in the home.
Even if you have a power outage, you can prepare ice in advance. I keep a few glass jars in the fridge with frozen water in them. Placing one in front of a fan blasts a cool breeze into the room. When it's really hot, I keep one on my desk (on a saucer to catch drips) and if you hold your wrists to ice, it makes your whole body feel cooler. Having cool feet makes the whole body feel cooler too.
When the weather is warm, it's important to drink plenty of water to keep your own body's cooling system in good shape. And it's OK to sweat. Deodorant ads have taught us that sweat is undesirable but it's actually just your body doing its job. It cleanses your pores and skin too - that's why people have saunas. In warm climates, cool showers are delightful - and inexpensive as the water doesn't need to be heated. The cooling effect of the shower lasts for quite a while.
Keep a small spray bottle full of water on your desk, in the kitchen when you're working there or on a side table if you're sitting reading or watching TV. If you're feeling warm, spray yourself lightly with the water. Add a couple of ice cubes if you like to make the spray even more refreshing.
- DRAW WARMTH OUT
Use your fan to draw the warmth out of your home. Put the fan near an open door or window facing outwards and the heat in your room will be directed out into the open. You fan isn't just for sending a cooling breeze around inside your home. This is a simple trick but can be very effective indeed in warm weather.
- HOT TEA
Drinking hot tea, bizarrely, cools you down. This is why it's so popular in warm countries. If you're not a tea lover, experiment with different varieties, and flavorings such as lemon or lime, until you find a drink you love. Cold or iced tea doesn't have the same cooling effect on your body.
- COLD WATER BOTTLE
Many people can live without AC during the day but want to be cooler when they are in bed at night. Make a simple reverse hot water bottle. Freeze water in a plastic container (like a large soda bottle) and wrap it in a towel. Take this to bed with you and snuggle up as you would to a teddy bear.
Wear loose clothing to let the airflow circulate around your body. Soak a bandana in cold water and wrap it around your neck.And keep your feet cool - this makes your whole body feel cooler. This is why so many homes in warm climates have marble tiles. If you have long hair, keeping it away from the back of your neck will help you to keep your cool.
Fans are available that work with electricity or batteries - the latter being a bonus in power outages. Remember, that although fans cool you down by blowing air at you, they also remove warm and stale air from your home if you point them out of your home, through a door or window. In addition to our retro fan, we have a tower fan because it takes up so little room in our tiny apartment. Another huge advantage of fans is that mosquitoes hate moving air. A couple of these in your home can keep bugs at bay.
Battery operated - great for outages.
Fans come in so many shapes and sizes so you're bound to find the ideal fan to match your decor and your own needs.
For the best results - hand fans
Hand fans are not only beautiful items in themselves, they really work by cooling you down with a lovely cool breeze. They are so much more environmentally friendly that electric fans. The electric versions are much better than expensive AC but still a drain on resources, and an unwelcome addition to the power bill. Using hand fans is a great solution and when they're not in use they are delightful as home decor items.
Inexpensive enough to buy in bulk, these hand fans are the ideal environmentally-friendly cooling method.
I first came across these when I used to go to auto racing tracks. Being at a racetrack all day, in Florida, can be pretty warm, even in the shade. Racecar drivers use these bandanas a lot. The headband style is also a great idea because it prevents sweating from the forehead. They're very inexpensive and believe me, they work brilliantly.
Another cooling option. Wear these indoors or out.
Don't forget your pets!
What must it be like to wear a fur coat when the temperatures are soaring? Fortunately, I see a lot of these products in Florida and my friends who have dogs swear by them. The dogs are a lot more comfortable and even the most Floridian dog, who has grown up here, appreciates these thoughtful products.
Your pets deserve to be cool too.
The South Florida climate
It's unusual for temperatures to reach above 100° but not unknown. During the summer, which is the rainy season, temperatures are at their hottest and humidity is high. Usually, August and September are the warmest months.
It's also rare for winter temperatures to dip below 60° - if they do, that is usually in the middle of the night. There are usually only a couple of weeks where temperatures are cool enough to need a pair of socks and a sweater.
Because of this, we have no heat in our tiny home. Maybe once or twice a year, it gets cold enough for me to switch on the oven and open the door just for a few minutes to warm the house up. So we have very little cooling and very infrequent warming in our tiny apartment - by choice - and I'm sure this saves us so much money. It's good for the planet too.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson