I spent most of my formative years in an Amish community. it’s a long story, but basically, when I was 10, my dad decided that the Amish lifestyle was God’s preferred method of gaining citizenship in heaven.
The particular community we moved into was unique in that, not only did we not have electricity, it wasn’t even available back in our valley. The power lines stopped where the dirt road and buggy signs began.
Even if we’d wanted it, there was no way to have air conditioning during the hot, humid Tennessee summers. We lived though (for eight whole years, I might add).
I’ll be honest: I have no desire to ever go back to that lifestyle. I love coming in from the out-of-doors to be blasted by a wave of cold air. But life isn’t perfect, so I imagine there will be a time when our AC unit gives up the ghost and we have to live without it for a few days, or a storm comes and wipes out the electricity for a few days, or any number of things, so I think it’s useful to know how to survive without it. And yes, you can survive! 😉
Ten Things Living Without Air Conditioning Taught Me
1. You really do Adapt. You know how in the winter, when you suddenly have a warm spell and feel like your going to die of heat stroke and it’s only 50º? It’s that way in the summer too, but in reverse. You go outside and it’s 95º or more every day during July, so when you come back into the house where it’s only 80º, it actually feels quite cool.
2. you learn to accept sweat. It’s like when you go outside in the summer to get some exercise. you know you’re going to sweat, so you just deal with it. It’s not the funnest thing in life, but it’s not going to kill you either.
3. You take a cold shower right before bed each night. It may not be the most delightful experience, but it brings your body temperature down enough that you sleep like a baby.
4. You get up early, stay up late, and take a nap during the middle of the day because it’s too hot to do anything else.
5. You take swimming very seriously. Especially if you don’t have the luxury of a nap during the middle of the day. Taking a few minutes to soak in a cold creek gives you the ability to take on the heat relatively comfortably for a few more hours.
6. You learn to conserve your movements to keep your heart rate.body temperature down. When you know you’re going out to work up a sweat, that’s one thing, and you mentally prepare for it, but at all other times, keep that body temp. down!
7. You learn the value of air movement. It doesn’t matter how warm the breeze is, any breeze is better than no breeze, so get those windows open!
8. You learn to value a big front porch. And you prefer one that’s large enough to put furniture on, because it will be your second living room all summer long.
9. Watermelons are your BFF. They’re extra fluid, electrolytes, and a snack all rolled into one. Fortunately, we grew lots of watermelon during that time, or I’m afraid my parents would have gone broke buying them.
10. Water is the single most important thing in your life. The colder the better, but you’ll take it any way you can get it, and you’ll try not to sweat it all out at once.
All those things may not sound very pleasant, and you’re right, they’re not entirely, but you don’t necessarily have to go cold turkey to save money on air conditioning. For instance, we switched from central air, to a window unit in one room of the house (where we use to live) so that we could still cool off, but not waste money cooling parts of the house that weren’t in continuous use, and our bill went from over $200 per month, to just under $100. That’s a pretty awesome savings!
Have you ever lived without air conditioning?
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Julia C. says
Yes! I have practiced all of this when my family lived without electricity for about a year and a half.
Also, put your hair up, go barefoot, oh and you know when you’re really hot and sweaty it’s easier for tempers to flare so remember speak kindly and realize everyone else is just as hot as you are!
So thankful we have air conditioning now ( and electric!) It sure makes sweating up a storm in the garden easier when you know you can come in to a cool house when you’re finished!
Just found your blog, It looks to be a new favorite. Thanks!
Yes! Hair up is a must!
Thanks for the tips. 🙂
Mary P says
I grew up in Wyoming, and at that time, very few people had air conditioning. During the summer, it often gets to be around 100 degrees during the day, but the nights are always cool. One of the things that really helped was to open the windows in the evenings and through the night, then close them by about 8:00 the next morning, trapping the cooler air inside. Also closed the blinds on any window that got direct sun. It kept the house comfortably cool until late afternoon, especially if you used a fan.
Yes, definitely. We had about three nights in a row that cooled off beautifully last week. Such a blessing! And you can bet we were pushing cool air in/hot air out with fans those nights!
Crystal & Comp says
I grew up my entire childhood with no air conditioning- my parents were on a very tight budget and there was just not enough money to run the air conditioner. It was pretty brutal, but I agree with all of your tips here. We had box fans in the windows we would run 24/7. Any breeze was a breeze. At night it was cooler. I would take a shower in the middle of the day to cool off. I do not miss any of it and interestingly enough we now own an air conditioning and heating business and when our house gets below 73/74 degrees in the summer I am the first to notice it.
Rhonda G says
I grew up without air conditioning. I’m trying to remember when my parents finally did get a couple of window units and I think it was after I moved out! I love in Manitoba, Canada, so we only have a few hot months, but they are very humid – not a dry heat at all – so it feels a lot hotter than it is. So like right now it’s 86 but actually feels like 97. Growing up it never occurred to me that we should have a/c! We ate a lot of meals that didn’t heat up the house, like sandwiches, and had a table & chairs set up in the basement where we often ate our meals. Some of us chose to sleep in the basement as well, and we kept some spare mattresses down there. Windows & curtains stayed shut during the day and were opened as soon as it was cooler out than in. There were a number of fans set up in the house. We slept with sheets instead of blankets. And you are very right about the adapting part! If it’s super-cold in the house, it feels ridiculously hot outside. If your house isn’t air conditioned, the difference isn’t so extreme. For that reason alone I am not the hugest fan of a/c – and I also want to enjoy Summer in our province where it’s only 3-4 months long!
You and everyone else that commented are real life super hero’s but not me r as my comment. Stay safe
I was hoping one point would be that heat turns you into a super hero. The struggle is real! This is our second summer without air conditioning, and while it is humbling, it is also just the way things are for us. I’m all about the spray bottle, and cooling towel. Nice work on the 8 years!
My family if a big family and are ac just broke so we are buying a new one right away but it will take 2 weeks so that sucks if anyone can tell me how you sleep like this I need tips my sis and I room gets the hottest because we are over the garage. Please help me out I’ve looked and everything.
We purposely live without using our air conditioning. We estimate the savings every summer and put that money into an investment plan.You really notice just how cold stores and homes are when you are accustomed and acclimated to the heat.In an extended summer power outage people who are very dependant on AC(and that is the majority of the USA) will be in crisis.It is frightening to consider.
I did. Here in California it swelters during the summer, and in the house I live in (I rent a room in a house) the central AC is broken. On days it doesn’t hit 95 or higher, it’s bearable. But when it goes above 95, I start to sweat like a waterfall. I tried to do without on those days but in the end I caved and bought a portable AC. I suffer from anxiety and I cannot sleep in a heatwave.