Let me start out by confessing that we just turned our air conditioner on Sunday afternoon. Yes, this week. There are several reasons for this.
We do not have central air. When we bought the house it had baseboard water heat, powered by propane. We converted a couple of years ago to a cornstove for heat and electric baseboards for back-up. We have no ductwork in our house. Our split foyer home is cooled by one window unit that I would guess to be twenty years old, and a network of box fans.
We live in the country. It gets windy out here. Most of the time we can use the breeze and our network of fans to cool the house enough that it is comfortable. Also since we live in the country, the boys can run around in their undies at home.
Our electric bill nearly doubles in July and August when we run the air. So my goal is to try to keep from using it until at least the Fourth of July. We have managed to have a summer that is only peppered by unbearable days of heat, surrounded by more tolerable days. On those unbearable days we try to go somewhere else, like grandma's house, my work (school), or the grocery store during the hottest part of the day to get a break from the heat.
I also keep in mind that people have survived the heat for centuries without air-conditioning. It has only become common over the last fifty years. As a society, we have become a bit spoiled.
So, the weather folks forecast a week of mid to upper ninety degree days, with heat indices in the 110 degree range and we turned on the air. We hung a blanket in our stairway and closed off all the bedrooms. We'll sleep in the living room this week. We closed all the curtains as well. It took all of Sunday afternoon and evening to cool the house to what most would still consider a bit warm.
I chuckled to myself yesterday morning as the kids complained about being cold. I checked out thermostat (leftover from the propane heat days) and it was 75 degrees inside. So I turned the air down, so it would run less. The body does adjust to the warmer weather. My boys being cold at a temp that most people would complain is too hot for an air conditioned house is proof enough for me.
What else do I do to keep the house cool? I limit the times of day that I use appliances that produce heat (the oven, the dishwasher, and the dryer) to the early morning and late evening hours. If I didn't have to bake for farmers' market I wouldn't run the oven at all. I try to run the other two only overnight, although that doesn't always work. We have been eating a lot of cold sandwiches or cooking in the crockpot since it produces less heat than the oven. I am trying to teach the kids to keep doors closed so that we are not letting heat in.
When we do work in the garden (it still has to be done, even in the heat) or other strenuous activity, we take frequent breaks and drink lots of water. We try to limit those activities to early morning and late evening as well.
What do you do to keep cool in the summer heat?
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