Sunday, August 8, 2010

We haven't used our air conditioning in 4 years.

It's August and it's hot and muggy here in Minnesota, no surprise. The ragweed is blooming with its yellow display of pollen filled flowers. One of my crosses to bear in life has been an annual bout with ragweed associated hay fever. I am wondering if we'll need to start closing our windows to keep the pollen out. That would be a bummer. Besides loving the fresh air, we regulate the temperature in our house by opening and closing our windows at the right times. We have a rambler- a main floor and basement.
Four years ago in August, it was hot. As usual, the central air conditioner was humming away. I went downstairs into the basement for something and I got one of those lightbulb ideas. It was hotter than Hades outside, yet it was cool and comfortable as always in the basement. I thought, "Why don't we just spend more time down here when it's hot and take advantage of Mother Nature's coolness?"
I went upstairs and shut off the air conditioner. We haven't looked back since.
We made our basement liveable/decorated it, and even sleep downstairs when it doesn't cool down enough at night on the main floor.
There were long hot periods when it became even sticky in the basement, so then we used a fan. This still uses far much electricity than central air.
Usually when people think about their electricity usage they think money- how much it costs. Rather we should each think how our electricity usage affects the environment. It is extra work, but in the summer we've gotten in the habit of opening all our windows on the main floor before going to bed to let in the coolness. In the morning before it starts warming up we close all windows (latching them too) to capture and lock in the coolness. We also pull down all the shades. Temperature- hot or cold goes in and out through the glass in windows. This works beautifully! On most hot summer days our house remains cool. We invested in some energy efficient windows which has helped immensely, and plug up spaces under doors with cloth covered styrafoam tubes.
Besides saving a bundle of electricity which is easier on the environment, we have saved a substantial amount on our electric bill. It feels good. A little extra work, yes, but well worth it.
We have neighbors on both sides of us. When we hear their air conditioners whirring away even on marginally warm days, we realize all they would have to do is open and close their windows, capturing the night and morning cool air, and spend more time in their cool basements when needed. People are amazed when they come to our house and experience how cool it is on hot days. They think we've had the air conditioning on.