I am participating in a "No A.C Challenge" this year and we did pretty good last year using a few easy home cooling tips, but there were still days we would flip on the A.C so it wasn't a win for me. But that is why frugality is a life-long endeavor and not a temporary fix.

I've got my free air conditioning all ready to go but there are always more tips to make the summer a colder one.

Blocking the Sun -
In the winter, we love the sun, but in the summer we hide from it. Putting up curtains or a blanket to keep the heat of the sun out of your room reduces the heat by up to 45% if you didn't have something taken care of. 
A Twist - If the air outside is dry and cooler than the air inside the house, hang a damp sheet up on the window to make the incoming air even cooler as it blows into your home.

A Cooler Fan -
Turning on a box fan will help circulate air in the house and drop the temperature down, but if you place a bowl of ice in from of it, you will circulate the air with a cooler breeze.
A Twist: Use the sheet idea and dampen a shirt or pillow case and hang in front of the fan. Remember not to cover the back of the fan or you may cause a fire, plus the fan won't suck in enough air to blow out.

Seal it Up -
Keeping your home cool during the day means sealing up the home. Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible. Whenever the outside air is hotter than the inside air, then you will get heat that rushes in through any leaks it can find.
A Twist - If you have a fireplace, make sure your damper is closed because it will suck all the hot air from outside into the home - called reverse flow.

Strategic Fanning - 
If your house is hotter inside than outside and you want to cool down as quick as possible, turn your window fans around so the blades are blowing the hot air out. If you have a nice breeze coming from the north and going to the south, you would face fans outwards on the south side and fans on the north side of the house would be faced inwards.
A Twist - To cool yourself quickly, keep a cold squirt bottle in the frig to spritz the inside of your wrists, the back of your neck and the back of your legs.

Internal Heat Sources -
If you haven't changed to CFL lights, one advantage to having them in the summer is that they don't give off as much heat as a incandescent lights give off, up to 70% less. Also consider using the oven one day a week but cook for the whole week and use the microwave to heat up the left-overs. Keep electronics powered down or in sleep mode to reduce heat that they give off as well.
A Twist - Invest in a camper cooker and cook outside as much as possible during the summer.

Hot Air Can be Your Friend -
If you haven't gotten into air drying your clothes yet, try one small line and dry non-personal items with it. This will allow your dryer to heat up a little less and use less electricity. Also open the dishwasher door right away after it is done to dry the dishes faster.
A Twist - Wear a damp shirt around the house to keep you cool while you clean and chuck your shoes and socks, as sweat on your feet evaporates, it cools the skin and the blood in your feet

Food and Drink to Cool You -
Eat lighter during the summer with more fruits and vegetables as it is easier to digest than a hamburger that can make you more sluggish. Also drink more tap water to cool the inner core of your body down. Stay away from drinks with sugar and caffeine that can dehydrate you and tire you out faster in the heat of the day.

10 Extra No A.C Ideas -
  1. Wear light colored clothes when out in the sun
  2. Think cooler thoughts and daydream about the winter and colder locations
  3. Sit and read more to lower your metabolic rate and cool your body off
  4. Eat hot, spicy food to cool your inner core from the sweat your body generates
  5. Take a cold shower before bed
  6. Water down the south-side of your house to help the house cool down
  7. The lower in a home you are, the cooler it is - spend more time in the basement
  8. Try a box fan in a vent in the attic to push out hot air and keep the house cooler
  9. Want to be outside, keep a kiddie pool or bucket filled with water to keep feet wet and cool you down while outside - add ice cubes to keep cooler longer
  10. Wet your baseball cap or wear a wet do-rag while running around to do errands

Are you ready for the no Air Conditioning Challenge?!

18 Comments

  1. Jill // Wednesday, May 26, 2010 8:39:00 AM  

    Thanks for this. I've lived without AC for most of my life. It was tough in the midwest with the HUMIDITY which kept things warm all night long. Now I live in the dry mountainous west and find that with 2 fans blowing out windows all night (and working with the natural breeze, not against it), then closing the place up before the sun comes out--including drawing the shades and curtains--I can keep the trailer I live in cool even on a 100degree day. Good luck!

  2. techwriter // Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:31:00 AM  

    I live in San Antonio, TX--high of 91 today, and will likely only go higher between now and October. Nightime temps stay in the mid 70s. No, I have no intention of doing without AC anytime soon. If I didn't work, I could probably lounge around in my birthday suite with the windows open, fans on, and drinking iced tea, but that's just a fantasy.

  3. finallygettingtoeven.com // Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:20:00 PM  

    Thanks for the post. I just e-mailed this to my son who has been out of A/C since last friday. He finally got the 'swamped' company out to take a look and his compressor is shot. He is looking at 2 weeks before he is up and running.

    He called me about an hour ago 'wailing' about how he was going to die over this. No you won't i told him but how can you convince a spoiled 26yr old otherwise...

    Hopefully he can implement some of your great tips while he is 'dying' and it will make it a little less painful...lol

    Thanks again!

  4. Dawn // Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:25:00 PM  

    The yes, the no and the "have-to" - I love these responses.

    @finallygettingtoeven.com - I hope your son finds some cooler satisfaction in the days to come. Sending cool thoughts to him.

    @techwriter - I have some family in Texas as well. I think their answer would be, "Not in my lifetime!"

    @Jill - You have a good system and it would seem your body has adjusted well to the hotter days. Cool thoughts to you as well.

  5. April // Thursday, May 27, 2010 7:51:00 AM  

    We live in central Ohio--hot and humid much of the summer. We went all last summer without AC--using many of the techniques you mention in your post. I'm prepared to do it again this year. (In fact, as I type, the east windows are shaded and closed; the west windows are open.) The only one who complained about the heat last summer? My husband's daughter (then 15) who was used to her mom's AC ways, which basically means throw the switch in May and don't shut it off until September. When she was at our house, she made sure we knew she thought we were nuts for not turning on the AC.

  6. Anonymous // Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:23:00 AM  

    I thank God for AC and am going to use it to improve my life.

  7. Jennifer // Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:56:00 AM  

    I would love to go all summer without turning on the AC, but we always end up having company at some point who complain, or it gets into the 90's and we can't take it anymore. I will try again this year though.

  8. laura // Thursday, May 27, 2010 1:25:00 PM  

    I live in Atlanta, Ga.. home of some of the worst humidity. Last year, my average ac electricity bill was over $300 each month. I REFUSE to pay that again this year. I have put ceiling fans in every room, including the kitchen and bought several standing fans to add to circulation in our bedrooms. We have already had several hot days and nights and while yes, it has taken a little extra time to cool off to fall asleep or get comfortable at times.. we are still doing quite ok

  9. Dawn // Thursday, May 27, 2010 2:53:00 PM  

    @Laura - Ouch! In this case the pocket book was more painful that the heat. Wow!

    @Jennifer - I would do the same if I had company this year, but no plans... yet.

  10. Anonymous // Thursday, May 27, 2010 10:22:00 PM  

    The links below show how to make cooling neckties. I have made them in the past and love them
    http://www.watersorb.com/polymer_cool_neck_bands.htm

    http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Make-Cooling-Neck-Ties&id=2931

    http://www.ehow.com/how_5247874_make-icy-neck-wraps-headbands.html

    http://www.kooltubes.com.au/

    http://soldiersangels.org/uploads/CoolScarvesHowTo.pdf

  11. adnama52 // Friday, May 28, 2010 5:25:00 AM  

    I try- honest I do. Ceiling fans- box fans- and I do okay until the humidity and heat crank up. South Georgia is like the tropics, hot and humid. Everything molds that you leave out- everything is rusted or corroded. My vitamins go bad. In other words damp and hot does not help anything in the house. The heat I can stand- the humidity is the added ingredient that makes in suffocating.

  12. Anonymous // Friday, May 28, 2010 7:10:00 AM  

    @lauara: Note that ceiling fans (and fans in general) cool people, not rooms. Save electricity by turning off the ceiling fan when no one will be in the room. While fans are cheaper to run than A/C, fans running in unoccupied rooms gobble electricity.

  13. Kathleen // Friday, May 28, 2010 8:19:00 AM  

    A trick my mom taught me. If you are in the city with a water fountain or bubbler as the only source of water, dab some water on your pulse points - behind ears and neck, on wrists, behind knees, in crooks of elbows, in cleavage (if you are a woman) - just like perfume. It WILL cool you down! Happy summer!

  14. Dawn // Friday, May 28, 2010 9:29:00 AM  

    Thank you for the links on the cooling neckties... We had one of those when we lived in the studio apartment in downtown denver with no AC.
    Getting it wet and sticking it in the freezer really did help!!

    @adnama52 - The effort it there and that is half the fight - some days I'm sure you are just tired and I understand that as well.

    @Anony - Thank you for this point.

    @Kathleen - Those pulse points work wonders, you wouldn't think so but they really do.

  15. Anonymous // Saturday, May 29, 2010 2:43:00 PM  

    Hi from hot and humid VA! We have an old farmhouse with the old wiring, so do not even consider using AC. (It's been nearly 20 years now, BTW.) Thanks for the tips and here are some more:

    1. When we are home, we draw drapes on the east side of the house in the morning and on the west side in the evening. This really helps, particularly since we have front and back porches with cat-on-a-hot-tin-roofs.

    2. We do our outside stuff (big garden) very early - from 6:00 until maybe 9:00. By then it is too hot to do heavy stuff. We can go out and work again by 6:30 or so.

    3. For really, really hot days, draw a cold bath about 2:00. You can get in it and soak and read. How about a nice glass of chilled white wine or beer? You can leave that water in the tub and dip into it as needed.

    4. We use box fans downstairs because of our dogs (safety), but I use my Grandma's vintage WWII Emerson fan upstairs and it is much more powerful. It oscillates, too. You can sometimes find these at yard sales - keep 'em oiled and make sure the cord is OK and you have a real prize! Look on eBay; I've seen some beauties there.

    5. We are fortunate enough to have a screened-in front porch which is under big ol' maple trees. It stays shady all day long! Trees are so important for keeping your house cool.

    6. Invest in a little cooler for your laptop. I used to really worry about even bringing my laptop home, but not anymore. I also blow the fan on it. When I close down the laptop at night, I leave it on standby for awhile so that it can further cool down.

    7. I wear big ol' linen dresses most of the time. Linen is the best stuff in hot weather - dries fast, holds up to the salts generated by sweat and loves to be washed.

    8. We love to cook but it does heat up the kitchen. I just bought an electric roaster at a yard sale for $15, and I am eager to give it a try. Crock pot is another good option. And, if you are home, you can cook out on the porch and keep that heat out of the house.

    9. Our vehicles do not have AC. We deliberately got them that way so that we would not want to sleep in the car.

    Hope these ideas help. Lee and Lee

  16. Dawn // Saturday, May 29, 2010 6:05:00 PM  

    @Lee and Lee
    Excellent tips! I think I will put some linen clothing on my list to buy.

  17. Anonymous // Monday, June 14, 2010 7:58:00 AM  

    Anyone in the Atlanta area taking the no AC challenge? Working on a story for 11Alive, the NBC affiliate. Thanks!

    e-mail me at: jwolfe@11alive.com

  18. furnace repair denver // Saturday, October 09, 2010 4:18:00 AM  

    There are many alternatives of an air conditioner. It is not impossible to live without an air conditioner. If your house is hotter inside than outside and you want to cool down as quick as possible, turn your window fans around so the blades are blowing the hot air out.