I’ve been a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) for over 7 years now (although now I guess I could be called a WAHM (work at home mom)).   Regardless, we don’t have air conditioning in our house.

At first it was O.K.  Sure, there were the few hot days every summer where it would be uncomfortable, but it was never really THAT bad.  Unless we had several days in a row of hot weather, then the heat in our house would compound, and if the nights didn’t cool down enough I was downright miserable.  Jim would be at work all day long, so to come home and endure 85-degrees inside the house for a few hours at night was not a big deal.  But it was for me!  And boy would I get grumpy!

At the start of every summer, we’d ask ourselves if we should consider getting AC.  But at the end of every summer we’d concur that it would only be fully utilized about 2 weeks out of the year.

We are fortunate that our house faces north and south, that the rooms on the east side of the house aren’t used much (garage, office and laundry room).  Fortunate that we have a covered patio on the back of our house which keeps our family room windows in the shade.  Fortunate that we have a covered front porch that keeps our living room window in the shade.  Fortunate that although we have no trees shading our house, the west side of our yard shades over nicely in the late afternoon- giving us an outdoor ‘retreat’. Add a summer breeze and it’s perfect!

Don’t get me wrong, our house still gets really warm.  Especially the kids rooms which face south and are on the west end of our house.  And the kitchen gets quite warm, primarily from our skylights.

We have a portable AC unit that we keep in the playroom during the summer months.  And it works pretty well, if we all stay in the playroom and keep the doors and windows closed on the really hot days (90+) I can maintain 70-74 degrees in there.  But step outside those doors into the kitchen or front room and it can be at least 10 degrees warmer!

So knowing that I’m in the childcare business for the long haul, and that we need to be comfortable and not slaves to the heat, we decided last summer that we would get AC sometime in the next couple years.  Well, that moved up on our priority list when we installed gas cooking appliances this past winter!  It will be installed this weekend (just one week too late for the current heat wave we are experiencing!)

For those of you who do not have AC….or want to limit your use of the AC….here’s how I keep my house as cool as possible:

1.  First thing in the morning- EARLY (like 4 or 5am) open all your windows and doors- put box fans in all the major windows and turn them on HIGH to blow the outside (cold) air into the house.  A little trick: in the warmest room, turn the fan so that it blows OUT.  I usually put this fan in our garage door off the kitchen, so that it blows all the air through our house and out into the garage (big garage door open).  This helps to cool down the garage, too.  Sometimes instead of the garage, I set the OUT fan at our back door.  Point is, you need to have an OUT fan to exhaust all the air through your house.

2.  Turn your furnace fan ON.  Not the furnace, just the fan.  This helps circulate air through your house.  Theoretically, you are blowing cold air into your house from the outside.  That cold air is being sucked into the air return vents, and blowing through the (cold) furnace and out through your heat ducts.  Don’t believe it helps?  Put a thermometer on your heat duct and monitor the temperature of the air blowing through.  As long as it’s colder than the air in your house, it’s doing it’s job!

3.  Have a few thermometers set up in your house- we have the furnace thermometer in our hallway of course, but I also keep one in our kitchen, and one in our playroom so I can keep an eye on things.  Once you notice the temperature not dropping any longer- or starting to rise- STOP!  Shut all the windows and doors, pull your blinds and curtains shut, close the doors to any rooms that tend to get warm (in our case that’s the office, laundry room and the kids’ bedrooms) and turn off that furnace fan!

Now your task is to KEEP your house cool:

– don’t turn on any lights (lightbulbs put out a surprising amount of heat!)
– block sunlight from coming through your windows (get room darkening shades or do the tacky thing and hang blankets over your windows!)
– don’t use the oven or stove (put a crockpot outside and use it to cook in! Or a campstove outside, or BBQ, etc.)
– don’t watch TV (big-screen TV’s, especially plasmas, emit A LOT of heat!)
– set up an oscillating fan in your most used room to keep air moving
– turn on ceiling fans if you have them (forward, so the air blows downward)

Yesterday it was 87-degrees outside.  Today is slated to be 96.  When we went to bed last night, our hall thermometer read 78 degrees.  We sleep with all our windows closed and locked, but do turn the furnace fan on and sleep with our bedroom window open.  When I got up, it was still 73 degrees inside.  But within an hour of setting up fans and opening all the windows, my house was a chilly 63-degrees!!  Brrr…   I put a hoodie on!  And didn’t take it off until 12:30!   It’s now 1:30 and 73 degrees inside my house.  It’s warmed up 10 degrees.  Does this mean had I not cooled down my house it would now be 83 degrees inside?  Ick!  It’s currently 92 outside!  It’s supposed to get hotter, and hotter tomorrow even.

Dinner is outside cooking in the crock pot, and by 6pm it should be fairly nice in our shaded yard (if it’s too hot inside).  Heck, my portable AC is still in the closet- I haven’t pulled it out yet!

Point is, if it’s 55-60 at 5am, you can really cool your house down… with a little work, and save pennies that would have been spent on your AC!