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On Living Without Air Conditioning – How to Survive a Layoff {Guest Post}


I am thrilled to have Dana, from Roscommon Acres [2], as my guest today.

When Smockity mentioned leaving off the AC to save a little in response to her husband's recent job loss [3], I thought, Hey, I have a little experience there. Because, you see, this house came with a heat pump that lasted all of one month after we bought the place. My husband had always wanted a heat pump until that February when he found out just how much they cost. We also learned just how much heat a house can generate because despite outside temperatures in the 20s, we were able to keep the house above 55 by leaving on all the lights and baking a few extra muffins.

That was nice in February, but I was already thinking about July because we couldn't really afford to get it replaced. I mean, we could have taken a loan out, but we didn't want to go into debt over what is really just a luxury. That and this northern girl does not tolerate heat well unless it is the kind you put on a taco. But this year, we're considering doing without again. Believe it or not, we actually could afford to put in a central air system, but there are other things we are thinking might be a little more important. [4]

That is to say, you get used to it. So for anyone looking into doing without the comforts of modern technology this summer (or who might like to make their AC work a little less), a few tips from the trenches on getting through the heat of summer without the air conditioner.

1) Don't cook.

You won't really want to anyway, but just don't even go there. Even while planning groceries, rethink any meal that requires the oven or the stove. That thing puts out the heat. Remember, I baked muffins at midnight to keep out the February chill through the rest of the night. If you have to use the stove, try limiting it to the evening.

2) Consider an electric roaster.

It is like a mini-oven, but it uses far less electricity, puts out far less heat, and you can set it on the patio to keep even that heat outside. The crock pot is good, too, especially if you are thinking lots of rice and bean dishes. Except you won't really want either, unless maybe as a base for tacos.

3) Think salads.

This is great when you have a large garden. After about a week in the 90s, it is all that really sounds good, anyway. Salads, fruits, cold sandwiches. The only thing hot I ever wanted was brats on the grill. And you can grill up a batch of chicken at the beginning of the week to sprinkle on salads and tuck in sandwiches all week long.

4) Rest during the heat of the day.

Around 11, we'd go around and check all the animal's water and retire to the house. I'd fill the bath with cool water for the kids to play in, we'd watch a show, I'd make sure they drank. And drank. And drank. At 3, we'd check the animals again and the children were allowed back out to play. That whole siesta thing works wonders.

5) Push fluids.

We made lots of refrigerator tea [5]. (I love ice tea, but it requires the stove.) And aguas frescas [6]. Oh, how I love aguas frescas. There's even enough fruit pulp in it that it makes a light afternoon snack.(That recipe calls for straining the pulp, but I never do. Also, you can substitute any fruit that can be pureed in a blender.)

6) When it gets really hot, take a trip to the library. The mall. The grocery store. A friend's. Anywhere with air conditioning.

The only problem with that is that by the time the heat drives you to air conditioning, you will find the rest of the civilized world uncomfortably cool. Consider bringing a sweater.

7) And don't forget the bath.

Did I mention I was pregnant through all of this? The bath was my escape from the heat. When you are done, you can use it to water the garden.

8) Take advantage of the heat and make some homemade yogurt [7], no machine or electricty required, and oh so refreshing as a smoothie in the afternoon!

9) Keep the lights off and the shades drawn, especially on the south side of the house.

10) Keep the fans going and make sure you have one in the window set to exhaust to help push the extra heat generated out of the house.

And above all, try to keep it something positive -- a challenge, an adventure, an experience -- something that keeps you in control rather than a victim of circumstance. Because believe me, nothing brings out the crankiness in everyone quite like the unrelenting summer heat.

Dana Hanley writes about life more abundantly, from the joy of a baby's smile to the almost unbearable grief of losing a son and seeking each day to find beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3) at Roscommon Acres. [8]