It is HOT in our house.
Okay, so I know that we’re major wimps because we’re not experiencing the heat wave that’s going on in the south, but at least most people down there (maybe?) have air conditioning. We have no respite (except when I go to work and they keep the temperature at a level that requires me to wear a sweater and moon boots).
Why don’t we have cooling? Well, here’s why.
A few months ago, we were chatting with our across-the-street-and-down-a-ways neighbors, and we looked at our house from theirs. We saw a horrifying sight: our old swamp cooler, clinging for dear life on its precarious rotting wood support, looking mighty disgusting. Of course we always knew it was there, but seeing it from our nice neighbors’ view gave us a twinge of guilt for having such a ghetto piece of garbage hanging on the side of the house.
And besides that, I have always hated how one of the neat old windows on either side of the fireplace had been demolished and replaced with a big ugly vent.
And besides that, it didn’t really work properly for a variety of reasons, so we rarely bothered to use it.
So, we did something about it. We ripped ‘er off.
We were left with a gaping hole, which we covered with plastic and have embarrassingly been living with all summer:
This blogger has no pride.
Anyhoo, our plan is to actually make two new matching windows. I know I know, we’re crazy- but you can’t buy them new like this anymore, with just a simple hinge and latch:
We may also hunt some down from a salvage place, but finding two windows that match and are the correct size is probably nearly impossible.
But back to the problem at hand: that is, the problem that our house is consistently 82-84 degrees. Below are some practical tips for if you find yourself without a cooling system for a period of time, or if you’d like to just minimize your use of your cooling system.
Open the windows at night. At least in Utah, it cools off at night (I know that in some places such as Oklahoma, it never cools off and if that is the case where you live, I’m deeply sorry.) Open a couple to create cross-flow. We open the little “fireplace window” in the living room and the window in our bedroom, and even though it seems like a convoluted path, you can actually feel a surprising amount of air movement in the bedroom. A fan in front of a window will help even more.
Close the windows and blinds during the day. I used to think that you should leave the windows open as much as possible, but the simple fact is that if it’s 97 degrees outside, you want to keep that air out. Closing the blinds keeps out sunlight.
The idea with the above two tips is to bring cool night air in and trap it there as long as possible during the day.
Realize that in summer, you are probably going to be a little hot. One thing that has always been amusing to me is how inflexible we as a first-world society have become. Even if it’s over 100 degrees outside, we want to be cool- even chilly– inside! I know we’ve all heard this before, but trade the jeans for shorts and lose a layer, and don’t be afraid to be just a titch uncomfortable. Drink some ice water! My brother has a swamp cooler, and he turns it on just enough to “take the edge off”. Well done, Jonny.
On nights where the temperature shows no mercy and stays hot, use water (nature’s coolant) to cool off. I had to laugh when I saw this video. It could be called “Orangutan cools off like Amanda and Stan”.
At our house wet bandanas abound. Stan loves to throw them on me when I’m not looking, which always startles me and nearly results in him getting a swift punch in the face, but then it feels soooo good. Tying one around your neck works well too, since there is a lot of blood supply close to the skin there. (It’s the same principle as keeping your neck warm with a scarf in winter.) I’ve also been known to use a wet bandana the same way you would a blanket when going to bed.
Use a good old fashioned fan. Sometimes I have to do my makeup while sitting in front of a fan just so my face will stop sweating long enough. Fun, right?
Hang out in shady areas. I’m sorry if these tips seem a little “duh”, but it really did take me a while to notice that our east-facing patio is just about the most pleasant place to be in the late afternoon as the sun is setting to the west.
And for the record, we have been trying to get a new swamp cooler all summer. We want one on the roof so that none of our windows are blocked, and no one seems to want to install one for us. One place even let us pay for a bid (normally we wouldn’t pay for a bid but we were getting desperate), sent a guy out who said he could do it no problem, and then called ten days later to say that no, they actually can’t do new installations- only replacements- and they were not apologetic in the slightest for leading us on. It was Lowe’s in case you’re wondering. (Can you hear me Lowe’s? I’m disappointed!)
I may write another post about why we’re going with a swamp cooler (also known as evaporative cooler) over central air conditioning, but for now I think I’ve rambled enough. Stay cool and stay in school.