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.
I’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.
It’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.
I’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.