Spring is about to turn the corner and enter your home, but maybe you have a few concerns about the weather heating back up again. If you’ve ever experienced problems with your air conditioner, perhaps you don’t relish the idea of paying to run it for the next several months. In fact, you may be considering alternatives to air conditioning so that you never have to deal with your cooling system again. Before you jump the gun and junk your AC though, consider each of your other options carefully. Alternatives to air conditioning certainly exist, but will they provide you with the comfort and convenience you need?
Let’s examine each of the alternatives to air conditioning you could use in California. Below is a list of strategies and devices that people commonly turn to instead of air conditioning. We’ll describe each one in detail and list its pros and cons so you can decide if it’s worth using one of these to replace your current system for good.
- Buy Fans… Lots of Fans. Next to air conditioners, fans are probably the single appliance most associated with providing relief from hot weather. However, they are of limited use in actually lowering the temperature in your home. While blowing air can create a certain degree of wind-chill, fans will be ineffective during particularly aggressive heat waves. For best results, they should be used with air conditioners instead of as a replacement for them.
- Leave Your Windows Open. Opening your windows can help you cool down your house, but only when the temperature outside is lower than the temperature inside. On particularly bright and sunny days, open windows may cause your home to become hotter, so be sure to use this method judiciously. However, opening your windows can improve the air quality in your home.
- Shut Your Drapes. Closing your blinds or drawing your curtains can prevent sunlight from entering your home through windowpanes and create a greenhouse effect. While this will not necessarily make your home cooler, it will help you avoid boiling during unusually hot days. You’ll just have to become used to living in a room (or a home) without a view of the outside.
- Avoid Using Appliances that Produce Heat. Uncomfortable levels of heat are not always produced by the weather outside. They can also occur as the result of running appliances that heat up as you use them. Ovens are a prime example, so consider replacing yours with a slow cooker. You can also run cold water through your faucets and fixtures.
- Stock Up on Cool Treats. Physical comfort can come from within as well as without and no, we’re not encouraging you to take up yoga. However, we might suggest that you invest in a box or two of popsicles. Eating specific foods may help lower your body temperature temporarily from the inside, which can be a real blessing on hot days. Then again, you might find yourself needing to hit the gym to work off those extra calories—and you’ll probably want to make sure any facility you’re sweating in has air conditioning.
- Make Effective use of Ice Packs. Remember the last time you crawled into bed and felt cool sheets pressing luxuriously against your skin? If you don’t, you’re probably missing out on one of the best ways to keep cool during those long, sweltering summer nights. Keep ice packs in your freezer and put a few in your bed an hour or so before you plan on retiring for the evening. Take them out just before you tuck yourself in, and you’ll feel totally relaxed under the covers. Think of it as a reverse hot water bottle!
- Soak Yourself. Chilly water isn’t just for drinking and freezing. Submerging yourself in cool H20 can also be a terrific way to beat the heat around the house. If you have kids, fill up the inflatable pool and let them play in the backyard (just be sure to have plenty of sunscreen on hand). If you need something a little more dignified for yourself, consider taking cold baths or showers when you start to sweat.
- Invest in an Evaporative Cooler. Evaporative coolers put liquid water into the air by vaporizing it. Similar to air conditioners, they can be a reliable way to stay cool during hot weather. Evaporative coolers are cheaper than air conditioners and may also prove more energy efficient—provided that you only purchase one. In larger homes, the costs of buying multiple coolers and running them at once may offset these benefits. Plus, they have a side-effect of adding moisture to the air, which can create a humid sensation inside your home.
There are many alternatives to air conditioning, but they may not provide you with the same benefits as a well-maintained HVAC. In most cases, it’s best to use the suggestions above as well as servicing and using your air conditioner regularly. Doing so can prevent stress to the system and allow you to cut down your utility costs while still keeping cool in warm weather.