Until Tim and I moved into our new home four years ago, neither of us had ever lived in a house with central air. Sure my parents would put up a window unit each summer and we would all camp out in one room at night. I grew up in an old farm house that dates back to 1879. Tim grew up in an old farm house as well.
Farm houses were just not made for central air conditioning. It is either not possible or too expensive to retrofit. Usually this isn’t a problem. In Minnesota, on average, we have about 14 days at or above 90 degrees. We tough Minnesotans just grit our teeth for a few days and then the temperature turns back to the lower 80’s or 70’s. This year has been a freak year. We are already going on 22 days of 90 degrees or above temperatures and today is suppose to be right back up there.
I took this picture this morning of the farm house’s inside temperature
We have been staying at the farm house while Jon and Lisa are on vacation (don’t worry by the time you read this they will be back, so don’t think about robbing us). So what are the some of the ways that we have been beating the heat? Here are my tips if you don’t have the luxury of air conditioning.
- Dress Accordingly: Yep, wear the skimpiest thing you are able to get your hands on. You are in your own house. If that means just underwear or your birthday suit, go for it. Just remember the UPS man probably doesn’t want to see that, so keep an outfit close by.
- Keep your windows closed (for awhile): This may sound counter intuitive, but if you house is comfortable in the morning, close all the windows and shut the curtains. This will keep your house comfortable for most of the day. I find that I can keep the windows shut until about 5 o’clock.
- Open your windows: If your house is already warm, make sure all your windows are open. You want to encourage a cross wind through your house. Check to make sure no doors or furniture are blocking air from circulating.
- Fans, fans and more fans: Get that air moving. Make sure your ceiling fans are blowing the air down. Also, cheap box fans work really well to draw cooler air in and force hot air out. Set up the box fans so that you are creating a cross ventilation.
- Sleep in the lower levels: It is basic knowledge that hot air rises. So grab your pillow and sleeping mat and have a family camp out in the basement (or lower level if you have a cellar like most farm houses).
- Eat cooling foods: Growing up my mom would make fruit salad, cold tuna salad, and cold sandwiches when the temperature was hot. Of course she didn’t want to cook, but researchers are finding there is actually a science behind the foods we eat in the summer. If you look at cultures who live in tropical areas you will see their food is very similar: lots of fruits, seafood and spices. Here is a good list by Delish on what to eat in the summer.
- Lots of Water: Not only should you drink lots of water to stay hydrated, but taking a cold shower or running through the sprinkler are excellent ways to stay cool.
- Last resort, Get out of Dodge: When you have had enough, get out of the heat for at least a few hours. Movie theaters, shopping malls, and libraries are good places to retreat too.
I have survived 26 years of living with no air conditioning. It can be done. Rest assure in about six months (when it is 50 below) we will be dreaming of these hot summer days.