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Summers without Air Conditioning

summer-thermometerI keep finding myself saying, “It’s not THAT hot yet.”  The summer has just begun!  How hot is that hot?  The high was 93 degrees today and in the house it got up to 87 degrees.  Definitely time to turn on the AC!  But we have a pantry where our AC unit used to be.  And no electricity also means no ceiling fans.  Air Conditioning is nice, but it is not something I really miss, even in the hottest part of the summer.  Living off grid and living simply is worth it.

Do I really mean that I don’t miss AC?  Yes.  That’s hard to imagine when you are used to air conditioning.  But I have found that I actually love the fresh air.  Yes, it’s hot, but the air is real.  I love having all my windows open and we don’t have to pay an electric bill!  The only time I ever enter an air conditioned building is when I go shopping.  I haven’t been shopping in a month.  I have allowed my body to adjust to hotter temperatures because I am not in and out of air conditioning.  Getting used to hotter temps is possible if we just allow ourselves to do it.  I am convinced when I was in the city and lived in an electric house that summer felt hotter when I stepped outside than it does to me right now.  The summer is hot.  I’m not trying to say that I don’t get hot.  I get really sweaty and icky hot.  In the hottest part of the summer, we are still sweating after a cold shower!  But part of living off grid has meant that we learn to adjust to all the seasons.

There are a few things that are really important when it comes to staying cool.  They are pretty simple and we all know these.  Drink LOTS of water.  Stay in the shade in the worst heat of the day.  Wear light colored and non-clingy clothing.  Light colors will stay cooler in the sun.  Dark colors always dry faster on the clothesline because they absorb the light from the sun.  They are even warmer to the touch than the lighter colored clothing when I take them off the line.  These things are pretty simple, but sometimes we don’t think about them when we are used to being in climate controlled homes.

homesteadI’ve also observed something else in relation to the heat.  This may seem obvious too, but I never thought about it when I lived in a home with AC.  On a sunny day, the sun heats up your house all day.  Consequently, the hottest time in the house will be at the end of the day before the sun goes down.  We located our homes on the east facing slope of our mountain, so the sun drops below the top of the mountain and shields our homes in the evening for a good amount of time before it officially is sunset.  We also have very high trees in back of our home.  The sun goes down behind these trees and provides additional shade in the late afternoon and early evening.

Please understand that if positioning our home according to the position of the sun had been the only factor, we would have shielded the south side of our home because that is the side that gets the most sun throughout the day.  But we had to take other things into account, like being close to our well, near the best pasture land for our animals, and of course a nice view.  So we made the best choice we could and I’m pleased with the outcome.  We are able to have our home shielded from the sun a lot earlier (so it starts cooling off earlier), than if we had decided to locate our home on the other side of the mountain.

We have a very wide deck on the front of our house and there is always shade out there except in the early morning.  If we were to really provide shade for our house, we would also have a porch on the side and back, but of course, this is added expense.  My parents home has a large deck on the front and the back, keeping a large majority of their exterior walls in the shade.  When we are on our decks, we are able to take advantage of the breezes that we have on our homestead.  I have been amazed with how the wind moves up here!  So much so that we are considering using wind power in the future.

wrap-around-porchIt’s not hard for me to understand now how homes in the South were always built with big wrap around porches.  It wasn’t just a beautiful design, but I love a beautiful Victorian house with a wrap around porch!  Isn’t this picture beautiful?  It was a necessity in summers before air conditioning.  Even when it is the same temperature inside as outside, it is refreshing to sit outside in a nice breeze.  A wrap around porch makes it possible to always find shade!  It also provides shade for the exterior of the house so that the only part that gets direct heat from the sun is the roof.  This helps the house stay cooler.

watering-holeI’m preparing myself for the hot summer, but I’m confident that I will be fine.  I’ve already been through one summer off grid and I’m letting myself adjust to the heat naturally.  I’m also praying for a good amount of regular rain to cool the air and provide moisture for our garden!  We will also find time to visit our local “watering hole” frequently this summer.

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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5 comments

  1. Antonia Wallace

    http://io9.com/5903956/the-physics-that-explain-why-you-should-wear-black-this-summer

    Read this, it might change your thoughts. I wear tanks when I get in the garden and by far my two favorite ones to wear are black. I swear I am cooler in those.

  2. I was raised on a homestead in N.W Arkansas by my grandparents which were in there 60’s when I came along in 68…. We done a lot of shade tree and porch sitting during the heat of the day but granny always had a ”foot tub” with cool well water in it to keep her feet in =) and a wetish towel around her neck …It works wonders in keeping the body cooler =) we never had AC and maybe one fan from time to time

  3. Heat during the night is hardest for me. It’s so hard to sleep in the heat especially without fans or a good breeze.

  4. I currently live in AZ where daytime temps have been reaching 114 with nights around 80ish. I remember one year the AC died around 11pm. It was one of those high 80 degree nights. Well, I had heard about the early Mormons way of staying cool during the AZ summers. For the daytime they would take a sheet, get it wet, ring it out a bit and then hang it in the open windows. This worked like evaporative cooling. Then at night they would take a sheet, get it wet, ring it out a bit and wrap up in it to sleep. Granted this would work better in low humidity conditions. But, I have to say that loosely wrapping up in the sheet to sleep worked extremely well and I was asleep within the hour.

  5. I too live offgrid. After one summer of triple digit Texas heat I installed a room ac unit . I I run it by generator. I feel like im cheating but 104 degrees for days on end take a toll!!

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