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Living with no AC

 
Posts: 6
Location: Florida Zone 10
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I've made it through South Florida summers without an AC and just two small powerful fans.  The humidity is a real killer but you eventually get used to it.  It's just that getting used to it is not quick.  It's like quitting smoking or dieting.  The fans help with sleeping.  So does being outside during the day.  I bring this up because if you can cut out AC, that's a lot of less electricity being used.  Especially if you have off grid power, the size of your system will be significantly less.  If it can be done in soflo, you can do it anywhere
 
pioneer
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Location: Tennessippi
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What have you learned about dealing with humidity? Have you delt with any mould?
 
Cody Smith
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Location: Florida Zone 10
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Michael Holtman wrote:What have you learned about dealing with humidity? Have you felt with any mould?


On the interior walls, no mold from humidity but we did get it from floods.  I can't speak for the actual inside of the walls if mold got in there though.  To deal with humidity, airflow helps.  I'm sure that no AC wouldn't work in all building types tho
 
pollinator
Posts: 702
Location: Southern Oregon
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In my experience, this very much depends on the person. I am much more likely to be able to live without heat than air conditioning. I have come to the conclusion that I'm just not really going to be able to go outside in the summer except very early morning.
 
pollinator
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I`m with Stacy- it seems to be pretty individual. I am very happy without AC, no matter where I am (and I`ve lived in some pretty hot and humid places), but I am a big baby when it`s cold (58F in my office right now, and I am dressed for snow and have a hot water bottle on my lap).
 
pioneer
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I'm very much the opposite.  Cold doesn't bother me.  With cold, you can always dress warmer.  In heat, especially coupled with humidity, I'm miserable.  I can't sleep at all unless I'm in a cold room.  I keep my thermostat on 58F all winter when I live alone.  I sleep like a baby.
 
Posts: 39
Location: Eastern North Carolina, United States
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I have to agree with those who say it depends on the person. I grew up in the tropics and still have a hard time with the heat. But I can camp in snow and at 13 degrees and do fine!  I can always put on more clothes/socks to get warm; hard pressed to unclothe enough to be comfortable AND keep professional on conference calls

Without running water, as I live here, I'd be hard pressed to be anywhere near comfortable when I work without my little window unit a/c. I basically live in one room during the summer (currently it's 102 per my AccuRite, feels like temp of 120). But the a/c does put out water, which I catch to flush the toilets, and my electric bill is fairly reasonable even with it.  This house has nailed shut windows for the most part, and is all chopped up, with no good air flow. That also plays a lot into how well one can adapt and make do.
 
pollinator
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I think I could do without AC, especially with ceiling fans, but I'd have to do it without my husband. ;-)
 
garden master
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I've tried this and while I did get acclimated to some degree, it was still somewhat unpleasant. I live in Tennessee, hot and humid May-October. I built a house last year and spent the end of July onward living in a house with no AC while I built it. During the day it wasn't too bad, as there was almost always a breeze, there were no doors or windows installed until October, and I sorta got used to it. The part I didn't care for was at night. After a bath in the driveway using a turkey fryer full of warm water and a washrag to remove the days sweaty funk, I immediately start to sweat again. Not like I was installing a roof or carrying lumber, but I would be sticky from lightly sweating. I don't sleep well when I'm hot, and I really had a difficult time getting a good nights sleep while sweating with the sheet over the air mattress constantly sticking to me. It wasn't until about 3am when things got cool that I got decent sleep until the alarm went off at 5. I do think I could do it again, and would do it, if it was in the middle of Canada for example.
 
master pollinator
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I am perfectly comfortable right now at 4:30 a.m. in Cebu Philippines. I have placed my largest fan 5 ft outside of the door, so there will be several air changes per hour.

It's 79 degrees with 79% humidity . I have turned my concrete and tile floor into an evaporative cooler and sometimes chairs carrying wet laundry are also employed. Laundry can also be dried on the stairwell or placed in any other convenient spot. When introducing moisture, there must be airflow.

Later in the day the temperature will peak at 90 degrees. Humidity will drop to 61 degrees. This will allow the floor to be cooled considerably since evaporative cooling works much better at lower humidity. When it gets really hot outside , reduce airflow except to areas that are being used for evaporative cooling. So far as I know , I'm the only person in this country using this technique.

If I go outside in the heat, I wear an evaporative cooler. It was about 85 degrees yesterday and I started to feel a little chilly as I rode the motorcycle, wearing a long sleeve shirt that holds a massive amount of water, without feeling wet. My denim pants are wet from the thigh downward. The seat of the bike always contains a bottle of water meant to apply to clothing.

The fridge is managed as an ice box , so that it's not contributing to the heat during times when we are in the only large room which  serves as kitchen and living room. The fridge is only run during the cool of evening. The freezer portion is 2/3 filled with water bottles in order to give it a thermal flywheel.
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Posts: 7055
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We lived for 18 years without electricity, no solar, just candles and kerosine lamps and, like James says, sleeping in the heat and humidity is difficult.  

When we moved up to the paved road into a house with electricity we had window fans and a wonderful whole house fan that would pull in that cool night air.  Since then we've always had one and other fans to keep the air moving in the daytime.  I eventually got a window air conditioner just for my former weaving room and here, we have one in the guest/work room.  We don't turn it on every day....only if we have company or some project happening in that room.  Otherwise we're ok with just the fans, either pulling in cool night air or just circulating what's here.  We still joke about it being a 'three shower day' or more sometimes...cold water, no soap.

It used to be that our wood heat over the winter would dry the house back out after humid summers.  We're heating with propane at the moment and I've had to sometimes run a dehumidifier over the winter.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1564
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I don't need air conditioning where I now live, but when I lived in southern New Jersey, summers could get really hot and humid. We had no money to afford air conditioning the house, so we used other options.

... During the summer we slept with the bed mattress in the floor. It was cooler down there. When we moved to a house with a basement, we slept in the cool basement during the heatwaves. And we directed the air from a small fan onto our bed.
... One time we had acquired a good supply of mosquito netting from the army surplus store, we set up an outdoor sleeping area. Much cooler sleeping outdoors.
... We hung wet cheesecloth over open windows to act as swamp coolers. They helped a tad though it wasn't very noticeable.
... We cooked outdoors so as not to heat up the house. A hot plate and a propane BBQ grill were summer cooking tools. We didn't own a microwave. And most meals were actually eaten cold. Think salads, fruits, sandwiches, etc.
... When working about the place, as opposed to being at work, we would take a quick cold shower to cool down, wetting our hair. And like Dale, we would wet our clothes. The wet t-shirt along with wet hair works wonders to help stay cooler.
... To get a mental break from the heat we'd schedule shopping trips to air conditioned stores and malls during the hot part of the day. And we would take in an afternoon matinee at the movie theater, which was always air conditioned to the max.

We eventually got to the point where we could afford a very small room air conditioner. We set it up in the smallest room we had and used it as a sleeping room (it served as a storage area the rest of the year). That way the air conditioner could cool the room and not cost us a fortune to run it. We would chill the room before going to bed, but turn off the air conditioner and run a fan instead, we would be able to sleep well and still afford to pay the electric bill. We did not sleep there every night. Just during heatwaves.

I like Dale's current solutions where he's living. Plus I think that a concrete block house built with a sunken room might be beneficial. The cool air would drain down into the sunken room, giving the occupant a "cool room". Much like having a concrete block basement. Not sure if that would work in the Philippines, but since heat rises and cold air sinks, it might be a good experiment.
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
Posts: 702
Location: Southern Oregon
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Let me preface this post with the explanation that I've had a particularly difficult day. It's day two of my daughter being back at work and my grandson still refuses to take a bottle.

But I think that heat is often the straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak. Violence is known to go up in heat waves. If everything else in my life were smooth, maybe, just maybe, I could tolerate heat, but since that is never the case, and it's easier to fix than a screaming 7 month old, an air conditioner is my friend.

Let me follow that statement up with the fact that I've never lived anywhere with central air conditioning, and for about half my life I didn't have heat, other than a fireplace (not a woodstove). I am trying to make the cooling situation in my current home work, but I'm so angry and unhappy, it's difficult. I am busy constructing a small room for myself and I have a small portable air conditioner that would work for that space.

I think it's great that some people can live without AC, I just don't think I'm one of those people.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1564
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Stacy, I feel for you.

When hubby and I were younger, we simply couldn't afford air conditioning. But quite honestly, once we could scrape the money together, we used air conditioners in the house. Those hot, humid Jersey days were draining. I don't ever want to go back to those summers, and I'm not ashamed to say it. If for some reason I was forced to move away from my current farm and go someplace hotter, I would indeed want air conditioning.
 
Posts: 77
Location: Nara, Japan
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Let me preface this post with the explanation that I've had a particularly difficult day. It's day two of my daughter being back at work and my grandson still refuses to take a bottle.

But I think that heat is often the straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak. Violence is known to go up in heat waves. If everything else in my life were smooth, maybe, just maybe, I could tolerate heat, but since that is never the case, and it's easier to fix than a screaming 7 month old, an air conditioner is my friend.



Babies make the heat so much worse! You're carrying around a little heater, and they get hotter the more they cry. When mine was super fussy and didn't want a bottle or a boob, I used a spoon. Back to work is a big adjustment. You are doing great!

Before I got pregnant, I was pretty good in the heat. I used to carry a jacket in the summer in Florida because everyone's AC was set so low. During pregnancy and ever since, probably because I'm still breastfeeding, I've been just always hot.

I think your individual tolerance to heat depends heavily on your ability to self cool, mainly by sweating. My Japanese friends will be covered head to toe in sweat saying they are cold, and I'm just there bright red, dry as a bone, on the edge of heat exhaustion, holding a hot baby. Like others have said, making your own sweat by wetting your clothes feels a lot cooler, provided the humidity is low enough for evaporation. We spend a lot of time in the river.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7055
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Oh, Stacy...I hope you get your ac hooked up soon.  You are so right that heat can play a part in everyone's mood...even just thinking clearly is more difficult in extreme heat and humidity.  

I think there is a huge difference in how easy it is to stay cool if the house and yard are planned for it.  Lot's of shade trees and porches and overhangs help immensely.

Our present home has super high ceilings, built in 1950 and did not have electricity or indoor plumbing for years...it was built with more natural heating and cooling in mind I think.  It has porches front and back and  carport on a third side.  We are planting our orchard up fairly close in order to add some more extended shade...it's just a small one story house.

Back when we were not hooked up to any utilities in our cabin, we spent a lot of time in the river and sitting in the afternoon shade.  Work at home was early in the day although my husband often worked out haying and assorted farm work for others...that was all day no matter what the temperature.  

I remember my loom was on the back porch and at one point I tried to rig up a 'fan' above me to move with the beater....winter time I would try to weave wearing coat and gloves.  Those were the extremes though...most of the year the weather was perfect.

Back then (early seventies) we were far enough out and hidden back in the woods that clothing was usually optional or at least minimal
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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When it's not practical to cook outside , hay box cooking saves energy and reduces the amount of heat needed. The second story here is used only for sleeping , so during the day, the windows are wide open , allowing the stack effect to carry cooking heat up and away. A big thermos is used for making hot drinks , so the kettle is only used once per day.

If we are home at 2 or 3 p.m. when the temperature always reaches about 90, the downstairs is sealed up except for a couple windows that are left open a little bit with big curtains that direct the draft to the wet floor. The air passes over the floor and then is sucked up the stairs. It will remain hot until after dark , but a cold floor takes a long time to heat up.

The sunken concrete area is a great idea for temperate climates. Not so effective in the tropics where soil temperatures can sit around 80.

When I construct a house, I will do a sunken floor area. It will be a spot where cold air from a two stage evaporative cooler is allowed to settle. This will be for a cooler that does not add humidity to the space. Airflow can be sufficient with a 100 watt fan , but much more airflow can be produced, if a solar stack is constructed. So, it's possible to have whole house cooling, without electricity.

I will construct a cooler that looks much like a high end Russian fireplace, with sleeping platforms. Instead of being a heat store, it will be a cold store. As cold air descends down the face of the cool brick , the air will collect in a pocket created by putting 2 foot brick sides surrounding the mattress. So the coolest air in the place, is trapped in that pocket.

I bought the smallest air conditioner I could find and it is mounted 18 inches from the floor in the sleeping area. The mattress is on the floor. It is usually set to about one-third power which means that we are using about 200 w. The sleeping area is very comfortable, but if you stand up, the air just 5 feet above the floor is uncomfortably warm. So we are really only air conditioning a very small portion of the house. We could go further and build a blanket tent to further reduce mixing, but then we'd be breathing the same air over and over again.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
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It's 5 in the morning and whenever I wake up early , the fridge gets plugged in and the floor is wet. The windows and doors are open. Security doesn't seem to be an issue in this gated community with a guard.

I used 5 gallons of water on the floor. This is far more than what is needed for cooling. The water is swept across the floor , toward the bathroom. Every little hair and piece of dust goes with it , so my cooling efforts also keep the floor very clean. Nova does a good job sweeping , so she was very surprised the first time she watched all the little floaties heading down the bathroom drain.

The big fan is set on about half power and it oscillates in order to cool the entire floor. I will get up again at 5:30 or 6 and sweep the remaining puddles over the floor so that it will be pretty much dry by 6:30. There is enough air flow that the increased humidity is not evident.

In the beginning, I tried this with doors and windows closed. Within 10 minutes it felt very muggy and I'm sure that we got very close to 100% humidity. It was uncomfortable and evaporation slowed to almost nothing. If the water disappears quickly , you know you're doing it right. I'm in bare feet and the floor is sucking heat from my body. According to my dew point calculator , the wind washing around me is probably about 72°. It's 80 degrees outside. When the temperature reaches 90 , the floor will be 15 degrees cooler.

Nova's mother and brother are able to sleep comfortably on hard surfaces. When they were visiting , they would lie directly on this cold floor every afternoon for a siesta. Several times , we were away during the heat of the day and when we returned , we discovered that they had taken none of the steps to stay cool , that they witnessed me doing every day. Somehow , her mother has lived 48 years in a hot climate without figuring out basic steps to stay cool. On several occasions she interfered with my efforts , by mopping up the water and closing windows at night or early in the morning. Then, during the hottest part of the day she would throw all of the windows open. This might be the most effective thing to do in a house made of bamboo, that always sees many air changes per hour. It is not effective inside a concrete block solar collector.
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Tereza Okava
pollinator
Posts: 595
Location: South of Capricorn
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SuBa, I grew up in NJ, no air, and we def used to sleep on the floor, pitch a tent outside, sleep in the garage, even. Good times! My Gram told me of sleeping on the roof or out in the park in heat waves, this is way, way back in the day.

When I lived in Japan, we did a very similar thing to what Dale describes, even in an apartment building- the concrete floor in the entryway got hosed down, you cracked the front door (this was in the city, i kept it chain-locked) for airflow and left the back door open, the cool air came in over that wet concrete floor.
We also had a few uniquely Japanese things, like the wind bell, which makes you acutely aware of any breeze (if you hear the bell, you can imagine you feel it!), carrying around a fan when it was blazing hot, and being very careful about wearing natural fibers (the year I had a job that involved pantyhose was absolute torture). I think the best thing was changing how we ate according to the season, that made a big difference.

Today in Brazil I live in a concrete house and we are very aware of how we open and close the doors. Like Dale describes, in the summer here the cool gets held in the house and you can use it as you wish. Adding some shade to the area surrounding the house (awnings, even trees and shrubs) can help cut down the heat and bring in more coolness. Since we have extreme temps (right now it is 43F outside, tomorrow it should be up to the high 80s or even 90s) and we tend to not use heaters or air conditioners, we decided our best option was to make the house as tight as possible and try to direct heat/cool to where we want it (closing doors, using fans, careful placement of appliances, etc). Here it never really gets that hot (like above 100F), but when I travel north to places that are much hotter, we take a siesta and sleep through the hottest part of the day. Stay up late at night, hydrate like a maniac (skip the beer). Wet clothing (even if it is just a bandanna around your neck) is so key.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
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Yes, siesta followed by late night activity. That's pretty simple for leisure time . I'm also planning to do farm work that way.

Everything heavy must be done between 5:30 a.m. and about 11:00 a.m..

With the things we will produce
(dried leaf products and spices for the foreign market ) there's lots of indoor processing that can be done in the laundry drying area or adjacent to the evaporative cooler when it's hot outside.

The products themselves will contribute to cooling , since most are about 80% water, which is lost during the drying phase.

To be viable, we must dry at least 100 pounds of product per day. Imagine workers tying together bundles the size of a bouquet of flowers, rinsing them and then hanging them on racks suspended from the ceiling above the workspace. That's basically what we do in our semi enclosed laundry room. It remains quite comfortable until the clothing is almost dry. Once products have lost 80% of the moisture they need to , they will be transferred to a dedicated drying room that will be allowed to get up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We will only enter there briefly and not usually during the hottest part of the day.

I've determined that running a commercial laundry is one of the more profitable businesses here. The going rate is about $4 per load which is crazy high when you consider that workers are paid 8 dollars a day. It's well worth it at $2. Competitors use horrible cleaning products and gas fired dryers. I will offer a cheaper rate using detergent that we make and air drying. We may give everything a 5-minute fluff in the dryer, with no heat, just so the towels aren't stiff.

I expect to make laundry, my leader that brings people in to spend money on other things. A big drying room of 1,000 square feet or so, would provide a huge amount of evaporative cooling. Air could be drawn from the drying room to the workspace where people are processing leaf material. I expect to build one dual purpose space first , and then increase as demand warrants . It's crazy cheap to build that space here.
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Coolest room in the house
 
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I live in the High Desert of Southern California and we have central A/C (most have evaporative coolers). It's too expensive to run so we use ceiling fans and a couple f small desk fans, and lots of screens. Even in dry heat it is tolerable (and I grew up in CT).
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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For sleeping I use ice packs. One large one under my pillow, and a couple smaller ones around me. It definitely helps.
 
pollinator
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I prefer living without air conditioning. I'm glad for the energy savings, but I don't feel like I'm sacrificing much by not having it. Sure, it does feel good for a minute to walk into a cool air conditioned building when I'm hot and sweaty, but staying in one for long periods of time feels stuffy and less healthy for my body than being in a place with good air circulation. I already have to deal with being closed up in the cold of the winter (luckily not for too long here in southern Missouri compared to when I lived up north), I don't want to be closed up in the summer as well. I adapt a lot over the course of the summer, the same heat that's oppressive in an early June heat wave is a breeze by this time in August. Eating a lot of homegrown watermelon helps a lot too. Adapting is both a matter of the body and the mind, doing more vigorous stuff earlier and later in the day is necessary, not in the middle of the afternoon. I enjoy the summers, although I'm also glad for the change of seasons and cooler weather in the fall, too.

I do agree with others who say that every person is different. I go to sleep with a fan on me when it's the heat of the summer, but almost always end up waking up a few hours later to turn the fan off. Some of my friends joke that I'm a lizard. I grew up in colder climates but never could get used to the sort of intense cold where there's snow on the ground for months. Some nice crisp winter days and a little snow now and again are okay, but once it gets cold beyond a certain point there's just no way for me to keep my extremities warm without bundling them up to an absurd degree such that it's hard to get around and I don't have much use of my fingers.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Heat and cold will tell you if your home is built properly and whether you understand how your home works.

I have successfully dealt with summer heat in three different climate zones. In each case the home was constructed by people who didn't seem to give much thought to cooling. So I have had to improvise.

Clerestory windows are incredibly useful for exhausting heat. I've never had them. Instead I've lived in places where the tallest wall opening was a door 2.5 feet shorter than wall height, and window openings were set lower. Double sliders are quite bad because only the lower portion moves in many cases. This prevents the venting of the hottest air that sits near the ceiling.... I have always dealt with this problem the same way , by opening up the attic hatch. On a hot night when there is no wind, air will move upward and out, very quickly. We added extra roof vents at the peak. It doesn't matter if the attic is blistering hot. That just helps with the suction.

I have always constructed evaporative coolers.

After 4.5 months lived in a tropical climate with 88 degrees as the average high and humidity between 70 and 80%, I've determined that it's possible to maintain a portion of the lower floor at between one to three degrees from the night time low, with the use of thermal mass and evaporative cooling. That low is usually around 78 degrees fahrenheit. So, we can get down to 75 and up to 81. Not completely ideal but certainly cooler than 88. I expect that with a purpose-built evaporative cooler , a couple more degrees could be shaved off.

I won't buy a place in this sticky heat. There are plenty of places further from the ocean where the night time temperature gets down to 75 and the humidity is also a little lower. A well insulated room, where half of the surface area is an evaporative cooler, made of brick or stone, should be able to be maintained with nighttime temperatures as low as 70° and never rising above 80° during the day.

For this to happen, all elements must be present. Thermal mass, insulation and a means of wetting the mass and blowing air over it. It can be set up so that no moisture is added to the room. If it can work at 80% humidity in the tropics , I think it can work almost everywhere. It requires somewhere between 0 and 100 watts of electricity, depending on the setup .
 
Posts: 83
Location: KY
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No A/C is my preference...it's a major issue in the household because my wife is not into spiritual conditioning/environmental adaptation as much as I am

Luckily, we aren't big money makers so when it's broken (which it has been the last 2/3 of summer) we don't fix it right away, which puts me in my happy place at least for now.

Every other creature makes due without it so I should be able to as well - if the structure I am in is unbearable when it's hot outside without A/C input, then to me the structure has a faulty design. I'm not a huge fan of the 1960's-current design of residential housing.

Luckily our house has a fair amount of windows and a whole-house-fan which is AMAZING at keeping things still relatively comfortable but still in-line with accepting and appreciating the seasons.
 
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When we moved from FL to MO, we were off grid for 5 years here. The first two years was back to back heat wave summers. 110 degree temps with close to 100% humidity. It was miserable and something I never want to do again. We had a travel trailer but those things don't have an attic so they get hot. We found the best spot to be outdoors was under a canopy. The first summer, we spent most of our time under one of those white tarp car canopies and the second summer, I was tearing down a fire damaged house for the materials. I would start at 6am and have to be done around 1pm and then we spent our time under the carport. During the first summer, we bought a 900 watts generator from HF to run a 500 watt window a/c and tan it after the sun was down past the trees. Running it sooner was futile. We would get it down to around 80 degrees so we could go to bed and we left it running. It ran out of gas sometime while we slept.

When I was little, my family went on vacation to FL. We lived in MA and we had to cut our trip short because I got sick. As soon as we hit cooler temps, I was ok. My son has passed out from the heat once and came real close another time. Over 90 starts to get to me, depending on humidity. I swear those heat waves took some time off my lifespan. I think my wife and I lived on cherry tomatoes(salted of course) and walmart seasoned italian bread during that second summer. That and plenty of water. Gatorade too. A neighbor of the fire damaged house brought us some cold beverages one time. Mostly soda which is about the worst thing you can drink in the heat.


 
Dale Hodgins
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Ty mentioned that every other creature does without air conditioning. This is true , but they aren't as committed to staying in one place , as people who have built an expensive house.

If you want to find the comfortable spot , just look at where the dogs and cats are. My dog discovered a cool seep that was hidden by undergrowth on my hillside. Much cooler than the surrounding air and she turned it into a wallow. Some wild creatures wallow or they go down to the river or in a cave or into a hollow of a tree to escape heat.

Pigs and cattle wallow given the chance. Domestic animals that are forced to stay in hot places by human structures, often die from the heat . Their wild counterparts would never stick around in a spot where they would die from heat stroke. Commercial chickens will quickly succumb to the heat if the fans stop working. Their ancestors, the indian jungle fowl, manage to survive hot weather in India without suffering that fate.
........
Anyone with a large piece of land is bound to have some places that are much cooler than others. I have a south facing hillside that I have measured at 46 degrees celsius. That's 114 fahrenheit and much hotter than what the weatherman said it was that day. A super hot microclimate.

Not far away, on the same property I have some cedars in heavy shade and a pond that never gets warm. Two feet below the surface, about 8 feet above the pond, the ground is very cool to the touch. A perfect spot for a root cellar.

When dealing with extreme heat, and a home that just isn't designed properly , I think in some cases, it makes sense to create a little concrete bunker, similar to a root cellar or bomb shelter, where soil temperature can replace air conditioning. Run a cord with a dvd player attached and you have a man cave , or a whole family cave. This would also make a great storm or tornado shelter.

This can't work for me, here in the Philippines where soil temperature sits around 80°. But it can work for a large percentage of the people reading this. It could work for many of the local people here, who don't mind 80°.
 
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This is a really important topic because Air conditioners use an extravagant amount of electricity. To put this in perspective an air conditioning unit will usually use around 100 times the electricity of a ceiling fan.

First if you're in a more arid climate  you can use evaporation to cool a house (swamp coolers, evaporative coolers, pots of water etc).

If humidity is low simply washing the walls and the concrete around a house can reduce the temperature substantially. It's especially effective near sunset when the cooling effect will last many hours. Cool water on the concrete slab of a house helps in the humid tropics too. If you have a lot of plants surrounding the slab of your house you can use watering them as a cooling strategy.

In tropical, humid climates evaporative cooling is mostly ineffective but there are many other strategies.

These include shading the building and especially making sure no sun hits the walls. Pay special attention to shading the west wall.

Reflective paint on the roof or shading the roof also helps enormously. Insulation or flashing in the roof also helps stop a building from heating up excessively.

Small box fans pointed directly at you are usually more effective and cost efficient than ceiling fans.

At night a small box fan on the windowsill will blow cooler air from the outside into the house. In locations where the night temperature is low enough this is as effective as air conditioning, much healthier and much, much cheaper.

Another key to staying cool when it's hot and humid is to avoid letting your body heat up.

Strategies to cool off include taking a cold shower, going for a swim or soaking yourself with a hose. If you do this in the hottest part of the day that makes a huge difference.

You an also place an ice pack on the back of your neck which has the added benefit of helping you lose weight.
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's 85 degrees here at noon in Cebu. Humidity is at 69% and evaporative cooling has made my concrete floor considerably colder than the air blowing past it. The whole lower floor of the house is very comfortable.

They say there's a 98% chance of rain today. There is always a spike in humidity just after the rain , but an hour after the rain , humidity can be quite a bit lower as the temperature goes back up after shedding moisture. We had perfect conditions for evaporation at 6:00 a.m. , so we started the day with a nice cold floor. Cebu is a textbook case of humid tropical. Not a great place for trying to stay comfortable all the time by cooling air with evaporation. But it's an ok place for thermal mass cooling through evaporation, if done when conditions are right. The doors and windows are closed now. The floor will remain comfortably cool until after dark.

At about 8 p.m. , I will start the evaporation cycle again.  That is , unless it's raining . When it rains, I throw open every door and window, since the whole world becomes comfortable until half an hour after it stops. The temperature often rises by 3 or 4 degrees shortly after it rains , even in the middle of the night. The rise is driven by high soil and structure temperatures and not the sun. By sunrise , the humidity is usually between 75 and 80%. Not ideal for evaporative cooling , but we can get a few degrees below the 77 to 79 degree air temperature.
 
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Ceiling fan, ceiling fan, ceiling fan! That is my solution, and a hard won battle as my husband didn't like them.

We are in a 5 year old 1500 sqft "modern double wide" so we have decent insulation in our 2x6 walls, and added extra insulation this year (up to R50 from R40). One of the modifications we made was to replace the livingroom and Dining room widows with clerestory windows, and the bedroom windows with side by side sliders (not double hung/updown windows).

Even though it has been much warmer this spring and summer, the extra insulation has proven it's worth - never got over 27C/80F in the house. Historically we would have days/weeks when it could hit mid 30's or 100+.

We also carefully monitor outside Temps closing all windows and curtains during the day and opening everything once the outside is cooler than the inside. The ceiling fans are critical, and we have one in each bedroom, the kitchen and living room, big ones, 42 inchers, that run all the time. Super cheap to operate, not so cheap to buy (I'm picky, had to be silent!) at about $200 each, but at a total cost of $1000 way cheaper than the purchase of a heat pump, or airconditioner with their additional annual electricity bills.

When I lived in a home with a central forced air furnace in the basement we would turn the furnace fan on and it would circulate the cool basement air throughout the house - I miss that!
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Let me preface this post with the explanation that I've had a particularly difficult day. It's day two of my daughter being back at work and my grandson still refuses to take a bottle.

But I think that heat is often the straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak. Violence is known to go up in heat waves. If everything else in my life were smooth, maybe, just maybe, I could tolerate heat, but since that is never the case, and it's easier to fix than a screaming 7 month old, an air conditioner is my friend.

Let me follow that statement up with the fact that I've never lived anywhere with central air conditioning, and for about half my life I didn't have heat, other than a fireplace (not a woodstove). I am trying to make the cooling situation in my current home work, but I'm so angry and unhappy, it's difficult. I am busy constructing a small room for myself and I have a small portable air conditioner that would work for that space.

I think it's great that some people can live without AC, I just don't think I'm one of those people.



Stacy, Greetings!  You live in Southern Oregon where the humidity isn't that high.  Why don't you try a evaporative cooler?  Or make one. I live in the High Desert of California now, but lived in Oakridge, OR.  I had five large evaporative coolers running in different growing rooms on my farm and California electricity is high, and along with the high water bills, it was eating me out of house and home.  Even the evaporative coolers are rather expensive to run when you are running that many.  So what I did was I dismantled and took out everything inside my box evaporative coolers.  I took out the big motor, the squirrel cage, the fan.  All that was left was the metal box and the pads.  I bought a large evaporative cooler pump and hung an ILiving waterproof fan (Amazon) in the duct of the cooler that goes into the house. It works like a charm and is using only 168 watts.  Today was 105 and it was 70 in my grow room.
 
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Sorry... I'm a heathen. I have 4 AC units and enjoy the privilege of being able to stay cool and dry whenever I want. In my (limited) defense I do live in Thailand and endure 40 degree temperatures for much of the year.

That aside, I've not really seen an effective alternative to AC units that work for me in this climate. I have designed the house with large overhangs, but the setting sun still warms the front of the house. Cavity walls would've helped, but the house was built on a very limited budget and getting the local builders to build a relatively 'normal' house involves enough hair pulling, without adding a cavity wall into the equation.

I did have a brainwave though...

A young designer designed passive fridges for use in rural Africa, using a twin skinned container with the cavity filled with saturated sand. The fridges are put out in the sun and the water is allowed to evaporate through holes in the outside skin, cooling the inner chamber.

I got to thinking if I couldn't get it to work on a larger scale, primarily as a cooled cellar for doing stuff like hams, cheese and storing produce. The door (on the darkside) would need heavily insulating, as would the roof, but I think its something I might have a play with in a year or three.

Has anyone tried anything like this?
 
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I'm a bit late to this thread, but I do have a bit of experience that will help...

My wife would divorce me if I turned off the AC now, but growing up my sister & I didn't have central AC.  My parents had a single window unit AC that stayed in their bedroom, my sister and I had to deal with window unit fans; the kind with two fans in a frame, where one can blow into the room and the other out.  During the deep summer, our mother would allow us to spend two hours during the heat of the day in her bedroom; either reading or playing a game.  The rest of daylight was outside unless it was raining.

But as an adult, I came up with a technique for comfortable sleeping during the humid nights.  I've shared this technique on this forum elsewhere...

Materials needeed...

Medium sized styrofoam cooler.
Gallon jug of water
aquarium air pump
about 15 feet of air line
at least one air diffuser/bubbler

Take the jug of water, put it into the freezer.  Next, put the air pump into the styrofoam cooler; cut a hole in the side of the cooler, near the top large enough for both the air line and the power cord to come through with the top on the cooler.  This doesn't need to be tight, as make-up air also flows into this hole.  Run the air line up the foot of your bed, and place the airstone near where your feet will be.  Take your sheet or blanket that is most tightly woven, and tuck it into the mattress at the foot end of the bed.  Place the frozen jug into the cooler; place the air pump either beside the jug or on top of it, but make sure that the airpump isn't on the bottom of the cooler.  Plug in the air pump, orientate the hole in the cooler away from the bed (this reduces the noise of the pump).  Get under the sheet and tuck yourself in so that as much of the air must flow up your body towards your head as possible.  This air will not really be cold as you might think, but cool and dry.  What is happening is that the ice jug is condensing the humidity in the air, and then the airpump is pushing the dehumidified air towards your feet, but not real fast so the tubing tends to take the chill back off of the air.  The jug of ice should make the night, and you will have a little bit of accumulation of condensate water inside the cooler in the morning.  Empty the cooler, put the jug back into the freezer, and repeat as necessary.

This trick can also be used to create a spot to get away from the heat during the daytime, by hanging the airstone over your head where you would be sitting down.  As the cooler air comes out of the airstone, it will drift downward; but usually a fan will do just as well.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have attached a bed sheet to the wall just above an air conditioner that is 18 inches from the floor and directly above the bed. It is a small unit but it still does a great job when set on number 2 out of 10. I'm only cooling about 6 cubic feet of air.

The rest of the room can be sweltering hot and the person under the sheet would never know it. The unit draws 500 watts on full power. My best guess is that it is using between 75 and 100 watts at this low setting. I tried using it on this low setting without the sheet and any cooling was undetectable... Reduce the volume of air that needs to be cool.
 
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Jason Manning wrote:....... In my (limited) defense I do live in Thailand and endure 40 degree temperatures for much of the year.
..........A young designer designed passive fridges for use in rural Africa, using a twin skinned container with the cavity filled with saturated sand. The fridges are put out in the sun and the water is allowed to evaporate through holes in the outside skin, cooling the inner chamber......



These are working with limitation: Need dry and windy air to work.
In Thailand I'm pretty sure that the air is not dry but very humid, am I right?
If the dry and windy condition is got, these can get cooled down with 6-7 Celsius below environment. Not really cool in your 40 deg...  but may be helpful if the "dry and windy" conditions both are satisfied...
 
Lorinne Anderson
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How about free air cooling, no electricity, made from a sheet of wood and old pop bottles?  

Below is a link that covers this in much more detail, but essentially gather a bunch of two litre pop bottles, cut the wide end off, and discard. Get a board the same size as the window, drill holes to accommodate neck of bottle, spaced 4-5 inches (the width of the wide end of bottle) apart.  

Insert bottles into holes drilled in board. Place the board over an open window. The wide end of the bottle faces out and collects the passing breeze, this is funneled through the neck of the bottle, into the house.

Tens of thousands have been installed in rural Bangladesh, where homes are tin roofed. This lowered the temperature, on average, by 5 degrees Celsius  (86 to 77F) - depending on local conditions.

I have not tried this, yet, but the concept is intriguing, and I'm thinking of trying it on some animal enclosures.

https://inhabitat.com/this-amazing-bangladeshi-air-cooler-is-made-from-plastic-bottles-and-uses-no-electricity/
 
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Michael Holtman wrote:What have you learned about dealing with humidity? Have you delt with any mould?



Born and raised in Florida in a time before homes had AC. Here is what we used to use:

* Whole house attic fans. sucked air thru the house and exhausted it in the attic pushing the hot air out of both parts of the structure.
* A wide veranda or lanai on the side of the home to keep the sun off the structure.
* Use a dehumidifier in really damp room areas.
* Use an ice chest with desiccant packs inside to keep things like bread from molding any sooner than it might.
* Plant trees to provide shade.
* Rise early, work late, but nap during the hottest part of the day. ".. Mad dogs and englishmen..." rules apply.
* Go to Sears, the bank, the theater. Reason is, those were the establishments back in the day that had central AC! 2 bits to watch a movie, sip a coke and relish the cool AC -- what a deal!
* Head for the springs. The springs were a constant 70 year round. Only way to live on a camping trip.
* Not so common except in antebellum structures: 10' ceilings, central open hallway, a much taller coupla on the home to draw out the air via any breeze. Kitchens were out buildings. Sun slats on windows.


 
Jason Manning
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Adrian Andronache wrote:

Jason Manning wrote:....... In my (limited) defense I do live in Thailand and endure 40 degree temperatures for much of the year.
..........A young designer designed passive fridges for use in rural Africa, using a twin skinned container with the cavity filled with saturated sand. The fridges are put out in the sun and the water is allowed to evaporate through holes in the outside skin, cooling the inner chamber......



These are working with limitation: Need dry and windy air to work.
In Thailand I'm pretty sure that the air is not dry but very humid, am I right?
If the dry and windy condition is got, these can get cooled down with 6-7 Celsius below environment. Not really cool in your 40 deg...  but may be helpful if the "dry and windy" conditions both are satisfied...



You are correct.

It might be better to investigate using an insulated outer wall that using water cooled by buried water pipes to cool the inner walls and floors?

Anyway, something to mull over for the next few years...
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Let me preface this post with the explanation that I've had a particularly difficult day. It's day two of my daughter being back at work and my grandson still refuses to take a bottle.

But I think that heat is often the straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak. Violence is known to go up in heat waves. If everything else in my life were smooth, maybe, just maybe, I could tolerate heat, but since that is never the case, and it's easier to fix than a screaming 7 month old, an air conditioner is my friend.

Let me follow that statement up with the fact that I've never lived anywhere with central air conditioning, and for about half my life I didn't have heat, other than a fireplace (not a woodstove). I am trying to make the cooling situation in my current home work, but I'm so angry and unhappy, it's difficult. I am busy constructing a small room for myself and I have a small portable air conditioner that would work for that space.

I think it's great that some people can live without AC, I just don't think I'm one of those people.



Stacy, Greetings!  You live in Southern Oregon where the humidity isn't that high.  Why don't you try a evaporative cooler?  Or make one. I live in the High Desert of California now, but lived in Oakridge, OR.  I had five large evaporative coolers running in different growing rooms on my farm and California electricity is high, and along with the high water bills, it was eating me out of house and home.  Even the evaporative coolers are rather expensive to run when you are running that many.  So what I did was I dismantled and took out everything inside my box evaporative coolers.  I took out the big motor, the squirrel cage, the fan.  All that was left was the metal box and the pads.  I bought a large evaporative cooler pump and hung an ILiving waterproof fan (Amazon) in the duct of the cooler that goes into the house. It works like a charm and is using only 168 watts.  Today was 105 and it was 70 in my grow room.
 
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I live in West Central Florida and this summer has been mostly in the mid-90s up until two weeks ago when the rains came. It cooled down but humidity was 80-90%. All my work is outside and for most of the summer I've been very nearly out of my mind. Getting up early doesn't help because it's wretchedly humid and already in the 80's, and once the sun finally dries off the humidity it's 95°. The best time to work is in the evening and I will often work into dark with one of those little headlamps. It's finally stopped raining the last two days and the ground is mostly dried out. The house is raised up on blocks and had 6-10" of water underneath it. Talk about a perfect storm for mold. Half the house was built in 1942 and is what is known as a cracker house. The other half is an add-on. I rent the house, thank God. It has so many problems and would be a money pit. the old way of building these houses was using something that I think was called decorator board but is nothing more than lap and there's a gap for air flow. My landlord has sealed the gap with caulk thinking it was a bad thing and would let bugs in. It's Florida, and bugs will find their way in no matter what. But back in the forties, people knew what they were doing to keep a house cool and those attic fans that someone else mentioned, window shutters, and shading the house with trees were what you did. You can drive through rural parts of Florida and see a little shack of a house in the middle of a field with one gigantic tree shading it.
I have window air conditioners which I'm grateful for because I only need to run the one in the room I'm in. During the day all the windows are closed and the insulating shades are drawn. It's dark in here and feels wonderful like a little cave and is about 10-15° cooler. When I come in from outside I have a ferocious fan I blow right on me to dry off and cool down, then I drink something cold, turn off the fan and go back outside.
Like other people have said I like it cold to sleep so I close my bedroom door and run the AC. As some old boyfriend said it's like a meat locker in here LOL
 
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