The idea of going without air conditioning can evoke gasps of horror, even among people who otherwise embrace a green or frugal lifestyle. However, when you think about it, living our lives in what is essentially a series of refrigerators is the unnatural approach! Living without air conditioning can be done, even in the hottest climates. It is a big boost to both a green lifestyle and your bank account. To succeed, look back to the time before everything was air conditioned, and re-embrace some habits of your grandparents.
Ventilate and Circulate
Try to open windows that face each other for cross-ventilation. Boost the effect by using fans to help circulate the air.
Use shades, curtains, or shutters to block direct sunlight, particularly on the east and west sides of the house. Awnings also help shade out the heat, especially if you do not have taller trees around the house.
Ceiling fans are wonderful for moving air around an entire room, but have a few portable fans as well. You can use these to adjust the air flow or direct it depending on where you need air circulated.
If you have a basement, you can position a fan by the basement stairs to pull cooler air from below. Consider adding an attic fan, which has the effect of pulling warm air up and out of the house and doing for the house what a ceiling fan does in a room. Remember that fans only cool you, not the room, so turn them off when not using them directly.
Add Less Heat Inside the Home
A stove or oven can quickly make the entire house feel too warm. In the summer, opt for grilling outdoors or eating meals like salads or sandwiches that do not require heating.
Another major source of heat is the clothes dryer. Either run it late at night or dry clothes outdoors on a clothesline. The same goes for the dishwasher; skip the heated drying cycle if possible. If your water heater is inside the house, lower the temperature setting on it.
Even smaller sources of heat add up. Shut down computers, televisions, and other electronics when not using them. Turn off lights you are not immediately using. Even better, replace your incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs that do not emit heat.
Adjust Your Personal Habits
Plan to rise early and do the most strenuous activities of the day, such as exercising or cleaning, first in the morning before the heat of the day really sets in. Cultures in hot countries are built around the siesta, where people nap and relax during the hottest part of the day, and resume activities in the evening when it begins to cool off. Try to adopt this approach on days when you are at home.
To aid in sleeping comfortably on a hot night, take a cool shower before bed. Dry off minimally and leave your hair damp. Turn a fan to medium or high speed and set it so it blows across your bed. You might even want to spritz the sheets lightly with water to cool them.
Throughout the day, choose lighter foods and keep protein (especially meat) description lower. Proteins take more energy to digest and heat you up in the process! Think Mediterranean diet–fresh fruits and veggies, salads, beans and fish in place of heavier meats.
Don’t forget to hydrate. Drink ice water or iced tea throughout the day. Minimize caffeine and alcohol as these dehydrate you.
Be prepared for a period of adjustment. Your body is made to adapt to a wide range of temperatures; it is how the human race populated the entire planet. But your body has become very comfortable with a relatively small variation in temperatures and will take some time to get used to the change. Things may seem unbearable for a week or so, but you will adjust and feel better. You will be surprised how much more you will enjoy being outdoors and more active in general during the hot weather!
The author of this article Sam Jones recommends this page on the uSwitch comparison website http://www.uswitch.com/boilers/guides/central-heating-systems/ for further information on advances in home heating and cooling
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