During a grid down situation or anytime that you are having to live a little rough you might have to find a way to keep cool without AC. People lived without AC for a long time and had to work hard while they did. Here are some tips and options for beating the heat without AC.
Do your heavy and in the sun work during the coolest parts of the day
In a lot of hot climates it is custom to work during the cooler parts of the day and then reserve your free time and other chores for the cooler times. This can be hard for some to get used to but it definitely works better than trying to slog through hard tasks when it is really hot. You get a lot more accomplished if you can break up what you are doing into smaller tasks throughout the day anyway.
Clothing matters a lot
While beating the heat automatically makes someone think that less clothing is better it is far more complicated than that. Cotton fabrics such as linen breathe better and help keep you cooler. Some synthetics have come a long way and will work but unless you are worried about getting cold and wet at some point, cotton is your best bet and an affordable choice at that.
Think for a minute on how people that live in very hot climates around the world dress. Regardless of the country there is some very important similarities. Long flowing sleeves, loose pants or skirts, and light colored fabrics are your friend.
We have an organic vineyard that has to be worked by hand largely. This means a lot of time out in the sun even if we plan out our work times as much as we can. I sometimes catch long sleeve linen shirts on sale and buy them up and we use them or the inexpensive packs of thin white t-shirts that guys wear as undershirts.
Guayabera shirts can vary a lot in price but they are worth every time if you work out in the field a lot. This shirt is usually in the $35 range but sometimes you can find this style for even less. It is worth it to keep a watch on the prices and stock up when they are less than $30. They last a very long time. They run a size small though so order up.
Drink a lot of cold drinks
While it may seem like a no brainer, it is very easy to forget to drink a lot of water and cold beverages during hot weather. If you have a hard time remembering to drink water then try to have something on hand that offers more flavor. Those little packets of Emergency C are affordable and don’t have a ton of sugar in them.
There are a lot of other flavor packets and mixes out there that can help encourage drinking enough water. Even if you don’t have a way to cool liquids, water pumped from a creek or in the shade is going to be better than nothing.
Add shade where needed
Shade is your friend. If you can add some temporary shade to where you are working then by all means go for it. Umbrellas are a classic option but anything you can rig up is going to help.
Fans and Spray Bottle Misters
There are all types of fans out there and there are plenty that will run well on 12 volt power if necessary. Look for RV or car fans for the best deal. Spray bottles full of water can provide a refreshing mist that offers relief for far longer than it takes to spray your face. You can even add some essential oils to the mix so long as you keep it away from your eyes.
While this is a bit more expensive than a standard spray bottle, it is supposed to offer a finer mist than average and last a long time when used for cooling. You can also just pick up some industrial cleaning spray bottles.
I have to say that it is really frustrating when you have a spray bottle stop working and I have not had the best luck with some brands. The industrial ones below seem to be tough enough to hold up to any situation. I bought mine 6 months ago or so and no problems yet.
Good curtains and shades
Sunlight bearing down on you and your home is going to make it harder to deal without AC. A good set of shades will help reflect heat from your house and make it noticeably cooler. The more windows you have and the type of materials your home is made of can make a difference in how much heat your home absorbs and then releases at night.
Get good screens and sleep with windows open if you feel safe enough to do it
I get that sleeping with an open window is a safety concern to a lot of people. At the same time if you can do it then you should. Screens of course need to be checked regularly in case of holes because you sure don’t want an insect infestation.
Better attic and roof ventilation
If your vents are blocked or non existent than you can wind up having a lot of heat trapped upstairs. Even if you need to limit the time that windows are open downstairs, leaving a window open upstairs and placing a fan in it to suck out hot air.
Improve the insulation in your home
While those unfamiliar with construction may think more insulation means more heat, the truth is that better insulation improves your homes ability to stay cool. When we were building our house, we decided to use bigger boards and more insulation.
Thicker walls mean that it can be a lot cooler inside even when temps are very hot outside. We don’t even use our AC for a lot of the months that most people do. While it may be difficult for some to improve insulation in their home, if you can it is not a bad idea and doesn’t cost as much as you might think. Even just finding drafts around windows and sealing with foam will help.
Acclimate yourself to the heat
In the modern age, we have got to the point where a lot of folks are very heat intolerant. Part of this is because we are simply not used to it. It is pretty irritating when you hear someone act like there is no way they can handle higher temperatures. Yes you can.
Actually, I recommend going without AC for the first few weeks at least of summer unless you genuinely have a health condition that prevents it from being possible. This allows your body to slowly get used to the heat. It can actually make it harder to get work done around the farm if it is too cool and comfortable inside!
How To Build A Bangladeshi Air Cooler
While this is not going to match the marvel of electric air conditioners, it will lower the heat of your home considerably. Those using this cooling system sometimes get a 5-9 degree Fahrenheit difference in the temperature of their home.
What You Need
Used Plastic Soda Bottles. The 2 liter variety works well but you can also use vinegar jugs or similar if that is what you have.
Piece of sheet plastic or cardboard the size of the cooler you want to make. If you are putting this in a window then size it to fit the window. Cardboard is fine to use but it might become damaged over time especially if exposed to rain.
- Measure your window and cut your cardboard or plastic to fit the size window you want to put your cooler in. You may want one for each room for maximum results.
- Cut holes in the board that are equal to the size of the rim of the bottle you are using.
- Cut out the top of the caps but leave the threaded part intact. You are going to need these to secure the bottle to the board.
- Cut all your bottles in half. Recycle the side that the cap does not screw on to.
- Insert bottle necks into holes.
- Screw rings from caps onto the other side. This will help keep the bottles in place. If you want a really tight seal you could always use some silicone caulk or glue but most people do not feel the need.
- Put the panel into the window opening with the bottle necks facing the interior of the home. As the wind blows on the other side it helps cool the rest of the room.
Tip: Clear or white bottles are best with green coming in third.
Here are a few Youtube videos where you can see real examples of these types of cooling systems. I have also included a video where this concept is used to make a cooler that is combined with a fan.
Going without AC can save money
While air conditioning is nice, it does add a lot to the average energy bill. If you are away from home a lot working it may be nice to come home to a cool house but if you can stand to set your thermostat a little higher or not turn on your AC until the very hottest times of the year, you are probably going to notice a substantial reduction.
For those that are trying to live more environmentally friendly, using some of the options above will reduce the environmental footprint of your home while saving you money.
Do you have any ideas for inexpensive cooling without AC?
Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
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