It’s too damn hot.
The same kind of hot it was the last time you said--to no one in particular--“That’s it. Next summer, we’re getting A/C.”
If you don’t already have air conditioning, chances are you live in a region where a chilled home in August is more luxury than necessity. After a long, cold winter, a little heat doesn’t seem so bad. Until it does. Wash, rinse, repeat.
You’re not alone, of course. Like millions of others, we’re sweating out our Memorial Day potato salad as we type. So what’s a hot weather snowflake on a budget to do? Well let us just tell you. But first, let us tell you why A/C is superior and, accordingly, expensive.
The Undisputed Queen of Cool
When it comes to making hot places cool, nothing can touch A/C. What’s it’s secret? According to Steve Cloutier of Washington Energy Services in Seattle, WA, the answer surprises a lot of people. Air conditioners seem to add cold air to your space, right? But what’s really going down is very different: they actually remove heat from the air. The more that’s removed, the colder things get.
Bottom line: without A/C things won’t get icy cold. If you’re like us, though, when your house is so hot that drinking a blended margarita could make you sweat, you’ll take whatever relief you can get. Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the Internet for affordable solutions that will dial down the heat.
Brace yourself -- it’s about to get...almost tolerably warm up in here.
You’ve Got to Move It, Move It (or, Push it Out, Way Out)
We have bad news for you. Fans don’t cool air.
Whaaa? That’s right. Because science. In particular, thermodynamics. (We can’t help it. We fancy. And also selectively nerdy.)
Let’s say you’re beached on your hot couch in an 85 degree living room, staring blankly at Netflix, waiting for death.
Guess where the warmest air in the room is? Within about ⅛” from your skin. Why? Your body is warming it -- which is the last thing you want your body to be doing right now and yet, there it is.
When you sit in front of that glorious instrument of the gods, the electric fan, the moving air continually pushes away that extra hot air next to your skin and voila! You feel cooler even though the moving air is no cooler -- like, zero, nada -- than the rest of the air in the room.
So the science about fans feels kind of depressing. But there is good news! Help them do what they do -- move air -- efficiently, and sure enough, temps will fall (and also, you’ll feel breezes, breezes, everywhere--not just in front of your couch).
Without A/C, fans are your only allies in the fight to get heat out of your home, and they do a pretty good job of it if you position them strategically so all that moving air is doing what you want it to do. The necessary equipment? A few basic box fans or, if your budget allows, a mix of box fans and window fans (how many depends on the size of your home) and a little know-how.
(Side note: yes, the ever-popular bowl-of-ice-in-front-of-the-fan trick will mean actually cooler air blowing at you (and your grateful dog). We are behind the idea 100%.)
Just Say No
This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: the less heat that makes it into your house to begin with, the less you’ll have to push out. So...
- Banish cooking to the grill and avoid operating all heat-producing appliances like ovens and dryers until late evening.
Open windows throughout the house during the cooler hours of the day and close them as things heat up
- Increase the efficiency of your (very smart) fan setup by closing doors to rooms you don’t use.
Turn off your fireplace’s pilot light when the cold season ends. (We’re pretty sure ours could cook a nearby frozen burrito.)
- Slap some window film on all that glass to block a significant amount of radiant heat without blocking your view and make temps throughout your home more consistent.
- Invest in blackout curtains (especially “thermal” ones, which will help keep things cool in summer and warm in winter) or minimally, choose curtains in neutral colors, which absorb less heat. Real Simple Magazine has a nice sampling reviewed here!
- Close window coverings before direct sun reaches your windows.
- Install awnings over windows and/or add a pergola to provide partial shade nearby.
Add a shade sail to shield your terrace, patio, or yard (and the adjacent exterior of your home) from direct sun without blocking natural light.
Like the idea? Us too! Before you buy, though, do check out this oh-so-helpful post on the ins and outs of planning a shade sail installation. It covers how to select the right sail for you, how to determine the perfect location, and installation options. (Ah, the Internet. Always there for us.)
- Add trees, vines, and other plants to bring shade and air movement around the exterior of your home and help keep things more comfortable indoors. Need a little advice before heading to the nursery? This will help!
There You Have It
Hottest stuff out, cooler stuff in. Sure, the humming from the heat pump next door ceaselessly reminds you how much cooler you’d be with A/C. But hey, you aren’t made of rose petals and lettuce like those guys, right? You’re resourceful. You make your own cool and you do it the old fashioned way. Like a boss. A boss who, thanks to your friends at Sparetoolz, is about to sweat -- and potentially, swear at the sun -- a lot less.