Cool Your House Frugally

by Kelly · 4 comments

in Giveaways,Living Frugally

Summer is here and, at least where I live, it came in with a flourish and a bang. No lazy Spring days for us, with their cool, breeze-kissed mornings and balmy afternoons. Here we go direct from snow to sweat, without passing go and certainly without collecting รขโ€šยฌ200.

Looking for ways to survive the canicule*? We are lucky enough to live in an old stone house, with foot thick walls, but at times even that is not enough. Here is how we manage to stay as cool as possible- frugally.

Play with air

Create a cross breeze or, as the French call it, a courant d’air. Open windows on the opposite sides of the room or the building. I like to dry laundry just outside the windows; the air cools as it blows through the wet laundry and enters the house. If you don’t want to dry laundry the old-fashioned (and time consuming) way, you might consider hanging a wet towel or sheet in front of an open window. I’m not sure how this would work in climates with high humidity (something tells me not very well) but in our relatively dry heat it works wonders.

Keep it dark

Is one side of your house more exposed to the morning sun? Lower the shutters, close the blinds, do whatever necessary to keep the sun out. Later you can open that side of the house and shutter the other. At night open all the windows wide to let in the cool night air. We have no screens on our windows, instead we have thick wooden shutters. By closing these to various degrees we can control the amount of light coming in. At night we close the shutters completely and then safely leave the windows open.

Turn it off

Electric appliances and machines give off a great deal of heat. Turning off the TV and (god forbid) the computer can drop a room’s temperature by several degrees. Don’t just turn them off, unplug them at the source. When certain appliances are plugged in they stay in sleep mode, burning watts and producing heat. Unplugging them helps tremendously. Try as I might though, while I manage to unplug the TV I just can’t quite cut my connection to the internet quite so drastically.

Watch your food and drink

Try not to use the oven or stand over the stove frying things. Eat fresh, cool foods. Today at lunch we ate a lentil tomato salad, fresh cool cantelope, sliced ham and cheese. No cooking involved. Drink lots of water which, while it might not help you feel cooler, will certainly help you feel less cranky about the heat.

Get naked

Not you, although that’s certainly your choice, but your house. Take away heavy cushions on the couch or thick rugs on the floor. My tile floors can be chilly in winter but they certainly feel good against my bare feet in the summer. Sprawling on the couch is made more comfortable by the absence of heat trapping pillows. I also let my kids run around in minimal clothing; the younger they are, the fewer clothes they wear!

*Heat wave, or dog days of summer.

How do you stay cool frugally? Any tips?


1 Mrs. Micah June 26, 2008

I don’t think I could live somewhere like that, though dry heat is better than humidity. The humidity in the summer here kills me.

I like your clothes outside the window idea…if I move somewhere with low humidity, I should try that. ๐Ÿ™‚

We keep it dim with the fan on. And I sometimes divest myself of a few layers…because I can. ๐Ÿ˜‰

2 thrrrnbush June 26, 2008

My grandmother would always take all the heavy winter bedding and have me stomp it clean (like Lucy on the grapes) in the bathtub when the first oppressive heatwave hit. There would be a wash cycle and at least one rinse cycle and she and I would get soaked from head to toe carrying the wet bedding out to the line holding it high over our heads so it wouldn’t touch the ground. It got her winter linens handwashed before she put them back into storage and it got her and I cool and wet without feeling like we were really wasting water. Rather than let things drip through my house I”ve done similiar summer washing with the kids in a plastic wading pool on the back patio. It’s a great way to wash couch cushions and sleeping bags too.

3 pamela ruth munro June 26, 2008

I absolutely agree about taking advantage of cross ventilation! I have fans in all my windows! Even tho I have AC. In the last heat wave we discovered that our classic gas stove with the FOUR pilot lights was hot – so I insulated the top with a ceramic tile & some newspapers – and we put a pan with water in in – in the oven. Seems to have helped to keep the heat down. FYI newspaper is an excellent insulator for both heat & cold.

4 Funny about Money June 26, 2009

In Arizona before air-conditioning was invented, people would drape a wet towel in front of an electric fan. The air flowing through the damp fabric worked much like a swamp cooler.

They also had sleeping porches: screened-in porches, often on the second floor or rooftop, where people slept on cots during hot weather.

We lived in a house that was built before the advent of air conditioning. It was designed to pick up the prevailing breeze, so that even the slightest air movement would flow through the building. It would stay livable until temperatures rose above 100 degrees outside.

Today it’s unsafe to leave your windows open at night (or any other time of day, for that matter). Even though it’s only 80 degrees outside now, at 4 in the morning, my AC is running. Last night a cop helicopter buzzed my neighborhood for a good 45 minutes, its occupants hollering at residents through a loudspeaker to go inside and lock our doors. An hour later, when I went to walk the dog, a cop stopped me to describe the escaped perp and ask me to call 911 if I saw the guy. Couldn’t pay me to sit here with a window open!
.-= Funny about Money´s last blog ..Woo-HOO! Major estate sale triumph =-.

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