Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. If you’re a northerner, you might be welcoming the heat since it’s been so cold for the last few months. But, when the weather warms up, guess what also spikes? You got it – your electric bill because of your air conditioning unit.
I was born and brought up in India where we grew up without AC. AC was luxury for us. Naturally summer months were not pleasant at all. Perhaps readers from Arizona, Texas or Nevada can understand how it feels like to be without AC at 110 F temperature. In India, that heat was not just a passing wave but, it was a way of life, it still is.
Only I moved to this country where I am constantly in air conditioned environment – at home, at work and even while travelling.
(Related – 15 Ways to Reduce Summer Energy Consumption)
I was first exposed to prolonged air-conditioned environment when I was taking computer courses in my college. It was in the computer lab.
So, I can definitely tell you more if you are really interested in knowing how to live without AC.
One disclaimer though, at our home (we live in South Florida), these days, we use AC everyday but, not for the entire day. We keep thermostat set at 77 F and use a fan. The picture above is from my study. I switched the fan off for taking the picture. Since we set the limit at 77 F, the AC unit doesn’t always run, especially during the night when outside temperature drops. We use fan, so the breeze from the fan lets us to sound sleep.
During the day SMB opens up the windows. That air flow, coupled with the fans keep us cooler. We don’t really start our AC before noon (we shut it down after waking up).
The picture shows that I don’t write for the sake of it, I do practice the techniques I write in this blog. So, you can trust me and have faith!
Let’s first describe how it was back in India, 20 years ago.
We were living in single family home with wide garden and backyards. Houses were made of bricks and cement, they used to have ventilators to keep warm air out and at least two windows to keep the air flow on. Every room had a big ceiling fan at the center of the roof.
During the summer months, they blew nothing but hot air at us. naturally, sleeping outside in the garden or in the backyard in the night was much preferred option. There were mosquitoes too. So, sleeping without mosquito net was unthinkable. That net used to create serious obstruction to the air flow. life was not easy during those days.
To sum up, these are the ways we kept our-self cooler from the insane heat without AC.
For more information, if you’re interested, on how people beat the heat in India you can refer to this article.
- Taking shower several times a day, especially just before going to bed
- We drank a lot of water to keep our body hydrated
- We used to soak clothes in water and hung it back the table top fan. It produced cooler air.
- We used a lot of talcum powder to control sweating.
- Cucumbers, salad, plain yogurt and lime water (Nimbu Paani) were part of everyday diet, to keep our body cool.
- People in multi-storied buildings slept on the roof top to get the breeze.
- Even while sleeping outside, due to mosquito net, we always had hand-held fans.
- Our meals in the summer were less spicy.
- We used to hang wet clothes, bed sheets, etc. by the window during the day.
- I remember wearing white vests and white shorts to get less sweaty.
Now I am not saying you follow the above. That was a third world country 20-25 years back. Now people, even in India, have air conditioners. The purpose of this article is to make you consume less AC and hence, save some money in terms of reduced electricity bill.
(Related – 101 ways to save energy)
How to Cool your Home at Lower Cost
As I said before, we all like to be comfortable (and not sweat) in our homes, so we can’t simply just turn off the air conditioning, but what could we possibly do so that our bills stay low and skin stays cool?
Let’s explore some unique ideas.
1) Increase Your Shading – Did you know that most of your heat in your house is caused by direct sunlight through the window? Have you ever stood in front of the window that had sunshine pouring in? It’s hot! The best way to solve this is with a shade that blocks the sunlight. Or, if you need to update your landscaping anyway, perhaps a few trees could do the trick.
2) Bust Out the Fans – Your A/C unit works hard to cool your house, which means that you’re paying more dollars for every degree lower that you set your thermostat. Instead of just bearing the heat, use a couple of fans to move the air. With this air movement, your skin will be less prone to sweat, which means that you’ll ultimately feel cooler.
3) Install a Programmable Thermostat – I was in the store the other day and took a look at the programmable thermostats. I half-expected them to be $100 or more, but there were some high quality ones for only $35! By using a programmable thermostat, you could keep your home cool while you’re there, but if you’re gone all day on a consistent basis you could schedule it to be warmer and thereby save money! I suspect that it would only take a couple of months to recoup the costs of this unit.
4) Make Friends with Your Basement – If you have a basement, I would suggest using it this summer. My friends do this every summer. They have a main level, a basement, and an upstairs (where all of their bedrooms are). On the extremely hot days, they don’t try to battle the heat upstairs by turning the thermostat way down; in fact, they turn it up! Instead of heading upstairs for the night, they decide to head downstairs and sleep comfortably without much effort. I imaging that they save a ton of money by doing this!
5) Stop Cooking Your Meals in Oven – I’m obviously not suggesting that you go out to eat all the time, but if you can get by without using your stove or oven, your house will remain so much cooler! If you really do want a hot meal, just pop your meal in the microwave instead. It might not taste as wonderful, but at least you don’t have to slave over your meal with that heatbox!
Tips to keep your body cooler
1) Take Shower Twice – I take shower once, before going to work. But, whenever I take shower after coming back, I don’t fight with SMB to lower AC temperature, never. Taking shower in the evening has other biological good effects on our body. If you take an evening shower, make it a cold shower.
2) Drink more Water – I know the direct benefit of it out of my experience. As stated earlier, water prevents dehydration and make our body cooler. You feel less warm when you are enough hydrated. If possible, drink lemon water or fruit juices every day.
Here’s one comprehensive and helpful article that covers 15 ways to stay cooler without AC. But, that’s without AC, not everyone can stay without that. Even with my upbringing in that kind of environment I can’t think of living without AC these days. So, the ideas above were to make you less dependent on AC.
Readers, how do you plan to beat the heat this summer?