Natural Living Des Moines


Keeping the House Cool by naturaldsm
July 3, 2007, 1:19 pm
Filed under: How To

Here at NLDM headquarters (my house), we do not have air conditioning. I started thinking today of all the coping methods we use to beat the summer heat. Most of the methods we employ would also be perfect for those of you with air conditioning, as well, to keep the house cooler and reduce your energy useage. I’ve found that those who do have air conditioning tend to not think about all the little ways they could keep the house cooler, since cooling it down is as easy as pushing a button. But for those of us concerned about reducing our impact on the world around us, reducing the number of times we reach for that button should be a goal!

So, here are some of the ways we keep our house cool…

1) Windows and air circulation throughout the house. Our house was built before air conditioning was invented, so it is built to rely on getting a good breeze through the house with open windows. On milder days, we are able to keep ourselves cool simply by opening all of the windows and letting in the fresh air! This doesn’t do much on warmer days, of course. Those of you without all the windows that we have can also take advantage of milder days, though. Open up the windows you do have, and then turn on a few fans. Aim the fans at the floor to help air move through doorways and throughout the house. If you have an attic or whole-house fan, turn that on, too.

2) Keep the air moving. With or without air conditioning, using ceiling fans to keep air on the move will reduce a room’s temperature by a few degrees. Some people have found that if they turn in their ceiling fans, they are able to turn the air conditioning down a few degrees with no noticeable change in comfort.

3) Don’t do anything to make the house warmer than it already is.

– Don’t use your oven. We have become experts at foods that don’t require the oven. We do use the microwave to cook some things (which is a whole different discussion!), but mostly we just eat raw foods or foods cooked outside on the grill. The oven heats up the kitchen, which then heats up the rest of the house.

– Don’t use your dryer. I dry most of our laundry outside on the line during the summer. Our dryer heats up the basement, which then sends its heat up the stairs to the rest of the house. If you do need (or want) to use the dryer, consider turning it on just before you go to bed, so it runs during the cool of the evening.

4) Close off areas of the house. When it gets really hot, I close off our sunroom completely by hanging blankets (I’m going to make curtains some day) over the doorways. The sunroom has tons of windows – great on breezy days, not great on those hot humid still days of summer. I also close off the basement. The basement is slow to warm up – it remains comfortable well into July – but once it does get hot down there, it’s miserably hot. And because hot air rises, it sends its heat up to the rest of the house. So we close off its main pathway – the stairs. (Note – this strategy also works for winter!)

Those of you with air conditioning might want to take a good look around your house and decide if you really need every room to be cool. Maybe you could shut off an unused bedroom, for example. No sense cooling the air of a room you’re never in.

Now in the interest of honesty, I will say that in August, our family gets a little bad about energy usage. I have been known to stick my upper body into the welcoming cool of the refrigerator while “looking for something to eat.”


3 Comments so far
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Great ideas! My dad lives in a wooded area with deep shade and never runs his AC either! And, one of the best ways we’ve found to cool down without AC is to take a lukewarm shower, then gradually turn the water cooler and cooler. This works especially well if you allow the water to soak the top of your head. Really!🙂 ~ Janet

Comment by Janet

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