Enjoying Summer Without AC

Welcome to Seattle, Summer! This Texas girl is very excited about your enthusiastic appearance this week.

As a matter of personal preference, I loathe air conditioning. Even with 90+ degree temperatures I still would not turn on the AC, much to the dismay my college roommates. So, fortunately, living in Seattle, we don’t have to deal with it much. Our box fan broke three years ago and I still haven’t replaced it. But sometimes (not so much the past few years, but occasionally) it gets so hot here that AC would be nice.

Here are some tips on staying cool without an AC.

  • Be flexible: Change up your routine: eat meals that don’t require the stove or oven (or grill out). Sleep in a cooler room if you can.
  • Turn out the lights: Reduce temperature from incandescent lights. If you don’t mind the light quality, replace incandescent with compact fluorescent (though I would not recommend this for a bedside or couch side table. See my blog post “Are CFL’s a Better Choice?”) Use a reading light that attaches to your book. (The GE Book Light is my favorite, great for camping and car trips too) If bugs aren’t an issue, enjoy a summer night reading under a porch light that’s on anyway and not producing heat inside.
  • Close it up: After surviving the dark winter, we want to soak up all the sunlight we can. But on very hot days, close all of the curtains, shades, mini blinds, and windows in the morning and then open them back up at night. Heavy curtains, blackout shades or sun shades are a great investment. Installing them on the outside is most effective at preventing heat gain, but not usually practical.
  • Install a ceiling fan: Here are some tips from Energy Star on choosing the right size and mounting heights. Remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, so use them when you are in the room.
  • Use a box fan: Place and secure in an open window. A hung window or a slider is best for this. During the hottest times, place the fan facing outward.
  • Use mechanical ventilation: In a newer house, you will have ventilation over the stove and in the bathrooms at a minimum. Use these to suck out the hot air.
  • Create your own AC: Place a bowl of ice in front of your box fan.
  • Cool sheets: This is my own special little “life hack” from summers without AC in Chicago–put your sheets in the freezer for a few minutes before bed. Does not last long but feels great. And, I love my crisp, white, all cotton summer sheets. I swear they stay cooler, even though technically the opposite can be true depending of the quality of the material. Maybe they help me conjure up the mental image of a very cold air-conditioned hotel room.