Beating the Summer Heat (with no central air)

Yesterday was the official first day of summer and it was a scorcher in these parts! I can’t recall ever having a June 20th that was so blazing hot and I would know– it’s also the day I was born. :) Anyway, it got mighty toasty around here and that meant I had to whip out some “keeping cool” strategies.


Our corner of New England isn’t prone to major heat waves and central air in homes is not actually the norm. So how do we keep cool on those rare days like yesterday when the heat index soars up around 100?


Open up at night.


While it’s not unusual for our mid-summer days to creep up to the high eighties, our lows usually dip back to the fifties or low sixties. Savvy homeowners know when to throw the windows wide and when to shut them up for the day. A house well-cooled overnight will often stay comfy all day… until the temps dip again.


Pull the shades.


Or curtains. Or blinds. Whatever you’ve got to cover your windows– pull it shut during the sunny hours. This one is hard for me because I have deep, deep love of natural light. But, if it’s a super-hot day, it’s one of those things that helps keep our home comfier.


Pull out the fans.


From ceiling to portable oscillating, fans are your friends when the mercury climbs. While they do NOT actually cool the air, they move it around and that makes YOU cooler. I, personally, love the feeling of a breeze from an oscillating fan passing back and forth. I find it really refreshing. Fans don’t tend to use a lot of energy, but, still, you want to remember to turn them off when you’re not in the room; if you’re not there to feel it, it’s doing nothing.


Back away from the oven.


Oh, how I love to bake. But when the weather forecast calls for 90+ temps, I keep my oven off. At least during the hottest hours of the day.


Stay inside.


Okay, we don’t stay inside ALL day. But I try to keep my children out of the blistering mid-day heat. Noon is when the sun is most dangerous for your skin and also when shade is the most elusive, but mid-to-late afternoon is actually when it tends to be the hottest. Mornings and evenings are the best times to get our fresh air on days like that! (And sprinklers and popsicles are ideal!)


Get low.


The lowest part of your home tends to also be the coolest. Heat rises and all that. So, if you have a finished basement, that’s where you should be. We have a raised ranch and the lower level is partially underground. It is staggering how much cooler it is down there than our main floor.


When you just can’t take it, rely on window units.


Window air conditioning units are readily available at home improvement stores. They’re not terribly expensive (especially when compared to having central air installed) and they’re simple to install. We have a couple of them and we do, indeed, turn them on if it gets too uncomfortable. During our hottest month of the year in 2011, when we ran at least one of them at some point of the day close to every day, our energy bill went up by about $30. So… it’s not a horribly pricey indulgence.


And that’s how we beat the summer heat with no central air!


What are your best tips for keeping cool?

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1 comment to Beating the Summer Heat (with no central air)

  • Happy Birthday!

    Where we live, central air is essential for survival…I told my husband there is no way we are living in a house without it. It’s kind of hard for me to fathom a summer not getting in the 100′s regularly.

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