Sick of the heat and your air conditioning bill? We gave up air conditioning 3 summers ago and have no plans to go back! Here’s how we save money and stay cool without air conditioning!
Our house doesn’t have air conditioning.
Depending where you live, this might be perfectly normal. But not where we live! I do not know a single other person who doesn’t have air conditioning in their home! When I tell people we don’t have air conditioning, they look at me like I just told them that an Elvis Presley impersonator and the Easter bunny live with us. ? And they think I’ve completely gone mad when I tell them that we have no intentions of ever putting in an HVAC system!
Yes, it gets hot here. July and August temps typically stay in the 90’s and always swing into the 100’s throughout the summer. Luckily, we have very low humidity! Cause this girl doesn’t do humidity – and neither does my hair! Give me that dry desert heat any day!
Personally, we like not having air conditioning. But, before we get started, let me just say this: if you’ve got air conditioning and you love it, then you rock that! You don’t need to “rough it” or become a sweaty monster to be a homesteader! We aren’t pioneers and we don’t need to live like one in order to reach some invisible “good homesteader” standard. You do you, boo!
Why we don’t have (and don’t want!) air conditioning:
So why on earth would we ever want to live without air conditioning? Well, there’s several reasons!
- It’s way cheaper! We don’t have to pay to maintain or replace an air conditioning system or a furnace. I love that our electric bills are $50/month instead of $200+/month like they were when we had to conventionally heat and cool our home!
- It’s better for the environment. Air conditioners contribute to greenhouse emissions and they use a lot of energy. Naturally cooling your house (even part of the time) can help protect our earth and environment.
- I’ve never liked air conditioning. This might sound weird, but it’s too cold! ? Lindy and I both naturally run cold (like freezing all the time!) so we don’t mind our house being a bit warmer.
- We handle the summer heat better now. This might be in my head, but I feel like our bodies have a much easier time handling the summer heat now that we don’t have air conditioning. You know that extreme shock you feel when you walk our of an air conditioned building into the summer heat? We don’t have that since our house stays warmer, forcing our bodies to acclimate to the natural temperatures. I also feel like this is an important part of living seasonally and as close to the earth as possible. Yeah, I know, that’s some hippy-dippy shit, but I actually like feeling more connected to the earth in this way.
Now, all that being said, it still gets hot and miserable some days! But we’ve worked out a pretty great system to keep our house cool! And none of it is rocket science! These ideas are all easy, common sense things that anyone can do! If you want to live without air conditioning, or if you want to reduce the amount of air conditioning you use, here are 5 ways to naturally stay cool this summer!
Five ways we stay cool without air conditioning during the summer:
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1. Work dem windows!
The most important thing you can do to control your home’s temperature is to use your windows correctly. They can be your best friend (keeping your house nice and cool), or your worst enemy (letting all the hot air in)! High quality double-pane windows will make your house more efficient both in the summer and the winter. If you have older-style windows, this can be an expensive home upgrade but it’s definitely worth it!
To keep our house cool, we have to open and close the windows at the right times. Every evening, when the temps cool down, we open our windows. We leave them open overnight (yes, we live in a safe area!) to let the cool night air in. The windows stay open as long as possible in the mornings, either until we have to leave for work or until it the temps start to heat up. The key is to get them closed before your house heats up!
We also heavily rely on blinds and shades during the summer. We have plantation shutters on all our windows. I can’t express how much I love them! They make it so easy to adjust the amount of light we let in! They allow us to keep the direct sunlight out without making our house dark and gloomy!
We also have fabric sun shades on the outside of our house on our West-facing windows. These shades are designed to block UV rays. They let a little filtered light in, but keep the direct sun and heat out. We roll the shades down each summer and roll them up for fall and winter. They make a huge difference in keeping the house cool!
2. Become a fan of fans!
Next to windows, I would say that using fans is the second best thing you can do to keep your house cool. Yes, fans do require some energy to run, but it’s very minimal compared to the expense of running a window AC unit or a full HVAC system!
Our ceiling fans run non-stop all summer long. And, believe it or not, ceiling fans have different settings for winter and summer! Be sure you have them on the summer setting so that the blades spin in a counter-clockwise direction.
Now, I’m going to tell you about our secret weapon to combat the summer heat: window fans! Have you ever heard of them? I hadn’t! And I have never seen them in stores, which is crazy because they are so efficient and work so well! These fans sit inside your window sill and either pull cool air in or push hot air out, depending which direction you face them. You will be able to immediately notice the difference when you use them! They are lifesavers – and so freaking cheap to buy and operate!
If I’m canning in the kitchen and producing a lot of heat, I’ll turn the kitchen window fan so that it blows the hot air out, keeping the room much cooler. During the evenings, nights and cool mornings, we turn them so they blow the cool outside air in. We use these window fans and we place these 12x20x1-inch furnace filters between the fan and the window screen. This helps keep the air much cleaner – especially when it’s smokey from forest fires!
3. Cook cautiously during the heat
Don’t even think about turning that oven on during a heatwave! One of the quickest way to warm up your house is by cooking! Now, you can either feed your family cereal every night during the summer, or find some creative ways to prepare your food!
During the summer, I utilize electric appliances that keep the kitchen cooler. I regularly use my bread machine, yogurt maker, and crock pot because they put off very little heat. I’ve also heard that InstaPots are another great option!
We cook outside a lot during the summer. This Spring, we finished creating our outdoor living space with the specific intent of being able to have a nice area to cook during the summers. It’s even equipped with misters! We have a charcoal grill and an electric single-burner hot plate that we use to cook the majority of our meals. We also plan to add a high-quality propane camp stove so that we can do some of our canning outside next year!
During summer, a lot of our meals consist of fresh, cold foods. Salads make a perfect summer meal paired with other grilled or raw veggies from the garden! Platters of fresh sliced veggies, served with hummus or dill sauce, are a another summer favorite at our house!
If you absolutely must cook, try to cook during the cooler times, either early in the morning or late in the evening. I try to pick the coolest day each week and do all of my necessary cooking for the week. And don’t forget to use your range hood fan when you do cook! It will help exhaust the hot air produced by cooking.
4. Landscape your way to a cooler house
Here’s your excuse to go buy more plants! Trees, shrubs and bushes can help block direct sunlight, provide shade and help circulate airflow to cool your house. This can be especially helpful on the West side of your home, which is generally the hottest due to the evening sun. Grasses and ground cover will also help reduce ambient heat.
5. Work smarter & find a way to escape the heat
Without a doubt, there’s a lot of work to do on a homestead in the summer. But you gotta work smart when it’s hot out! Since it’s much harder to cool off when you don’t have air conditioning, it’s important to not overheat or overwork yourself. Try to plan your day so that the most physical outdoor chores are done in the mornings or evenings. Use the hot afternoons to do indoor chores or projects that aren’t physically intense. And of course, stay hydrated and dress appropriately for the weather!
Inevitably, there will be days when you get too hot! This is when you need a Plan B! For us, it’s the stock tank pool! In fact, the whole reason we created our stock tank pool was so that we could cool off on hot days after working outside. After hanging out in the pool for 15-20 minutes, we are generally re-energized, cooled off, and ready to get back to work! Having a way to cool off quickly is absolutely essential for your summer success!
How do you stay cool in the summer? Share your tips in the comments!