The Air-Conditioning Debate -- Hotter than I Thought

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Mon, 07/26/2010 - 00:48.

How did you spend these past few scorching days? Like Agricultural Scientist Stan Cox and his wife I spent them without air-conditioning, not necessarily comfortable but accepting of the weather. Stan Cox was interviewed recently in the New York Times about his views on reducing our dependence upon air-conditioning. I was surprised to learn that Mr. Cox has received death threats for these views! See  No Air-Conditioning, and Happy by Susan Saulny

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The Air-conditioning debate

Hi Evelyn--we survived the intense heat and humidity this past week without air conditioning. I don't know that we could have done it without a dehumidifier running in the basement and fans drawing out hot air on the second floor.

We typically close up the house during the day.  All windows and blinds down.  And, then open the second floor windows in the evening to pull cool air from the basement. It works pretty well. 

I recently got back from Frostburg, MD, where some of the older houses are still equipped with real shutters, awning, sleeping porches, summer kitchens etc.  All these design elements helped folks to cope with extreme heat, cold, snow etc.  I would like to have real shutters on my house and to install awnings, next.


  I also incorporated a siesta on one of the hot days...went swimming a lot...slowed way, way down...we need to incorporate behaviors that allow us to survive without air conditioning. 

summer time

I used air conditioning constantly the last few weeks, though I keep it warmer than most would. It was so hot and muggy. I drank a lot of cold water, and tried to postpone whatever I could. On Friday, I had to be in the heat (heat index 105 then) without air conditioning so I found some shade. I accepted a popsicle when offered. It has been years since I had a popsicle and I liked it! 

In the evenings, before total darkness, I would do the outside stuff like clean and refill the birdbath, water the few veggies that I planted this year, etc. The City pool across the street got heavy use this year, and that is good. It also got some after hours use by neighborhood kids, which made me wish that we had enough resources and flexibility to keep the pools open until 10 or 11 on really hot nights.

Even with air conditioning at home and work, I found myself tired, dehydrated, and began the cabin fever syndrome. I reminded myself to cut others a lot of slack, and give other drivers a lot of space, and just not engage people if I had a choice. When the temperatures go up, so does rage and crime, and it is best to detach.

I like what Laura posted about the siesta, shutters, and sleeping porches. It speaks to a time of being in tune with the earth, and following what is natural by changing our habitats to accommodate the season.


We don't have central air

We don't have central air but we do have a unit for the bedroom. Don't know what we would do without it! I've been worried about our cat a great deal this month (she's 13) but we have fans strategically placed in the kitchen and TV room and she's pulled through. She's a lot happier that it's cooler now. We all are!

Keep your cat cool and healthy all summer long

I receive pet advice emails from Iams - not a product plug... thought this info may be helpful:

Summer-izing Your Cat

Those long, lazy days of summer are finally here but they may not be as much fun for your cat as they are for you. You’ll be spending more time outside and she relies on you to make sure she’s safe and comfortable. Know how to anticipate her needs—and any potential dangers—to make her summer a healthy one.

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Don’t Let Summer Bug Your Cat

Summer brings with it barbecues with friends, freshly mown grass and spending more than ever outside. It also brings parasites that can have serious health consequences for your cat (and sometimes for you). Since your furry friend will want to be outdoors with you as much as possible,
you’ll want to know what to look out for and what you can do to keep her parasite free.

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Have Cat Will Travel

Summertime means travel time—trips in the car to weekend or longer destinations. You don’t want to leave your favorite feline home so there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before your trip and arrangements you’ll need to make during it.

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a cool attitude is important ...

I have mainly been thinking of ways to change my physical enivorment to keep cool -- I too would like to add awnings to my house ... but I agree that changing your behavior and attitude are very important too. I used to visit Georgia and South Carolina often and the attitude was definitely different there, slower, more relaxed. I remember distictly the difference between arriving at the airport nearly late for your flight in Cleveland vs, Charleston. In Charleston -- "Oh don't worry you'll make it honey" -- It was like two different worlds.

southern cool

thats funny - I lived for 7-8 years in the Florida Keys. They say down there if they move any slower, they'll be going backward...

It was quite a shock moving back north. I had "grown-up" there - moved when I was 16, graduated high school, had two babies. I hated it here. Everyone was so mean and unfriendly. If I struck up a conversation with someone in the grocery line, they thought me odd. Down there, it was considered rude not to have a polite exchange.

I used to joke this was the western reserved.

But I guess I've adapted. Although, it pains me to stay silent in an elevator. Its just so rude....

Another thing, to add to the list, we didn't do anything during the day if we didn't HAVE to. If we went anywhere, it was to the water. Soon as the sun went down, we would be out and about and everyone would have a great time! Nothing like a cold shower around 8pm, dinner and playtime!

Give me 90 in the shade, a breeze and a ceiling fan and I'm cool

Living in Louisiana, Florida, Texas and California for about half my life, and traveling to the hottest places on Earth, I am more comfortable in the tropics without AC than anywhere in the world.

Give me 90 in the shade, a breeze and a ceiling fan and I'm cool

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Oh... and no pollution

Oh... and no pollution.

If you have  90 in the shade, a breeze and a ceiling fan plus pollution you are dead -


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southern comfort

I think that the name of this liquor was named after the culture of the south.

I say hello to people in elevators, and on the street. I came home the other day, and a group of people were standing in front of my house, under the tree, talking. I said hello and they moved on down the street. I regret that I did not say to them to take their time and enjoy the shade, no need to rush.  


I am not an air condition person.  Open windows and fans does the job.  On some of these really hot days it means slowing down a bit.

When we were in Phoenix a few years ago, I liked the swamp coolers.  They kept the houses really cool.

My cats kind of like the fans too, especially the Sambo the male cat.  He weighs about 30lbs and his favorite place to stretch out is in the middle of the kitchen floor - he's lazy too.  He lays on his back with all fours stuck straight up in the air, his head cocked to the side almost bearing a grin showing his two long teeth.  When he's laid out - he refuses to move for anybody.  I don't know how he does it but he sleeps like that for hours.

His sister is the opposite.  heat or no heat she's got to be chasing something - a bird, a butterfly, bug or squirrel.