Simple Steps to Fight Summer Heat and Limit Air Conditioning

If you live in a steamy region where the humidity matches the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, please stop reading this post immediately and start making your baby an ice bath.  My humble advice only works for areas where the air is light enough to move. 

In Eugene, Oregon, where I live, the temperature occasionally gets above ninety degrees and the humidity is almost always manageable.  Still, I am a self-professed heat wimp so I do all I can to keep our home cool.  We don’t have air conditioning, but with a little extra effort we mostly stay very comfortable through the warm summer months. Even if we did have air, I think I’d keep up the steps below to lower our power bill and our emissions with just a few minutes of effort.

Nothing about what we do is earth shattering, and I’m sure everyone used this same routine years ago.

Step 1: Put a thermometer outside your home where it is visible from a window.

Step 2: In the evenings, wait until the thermometer outside is cooler than your thermostat inside.

Step 3: Open the windows, turn on the fans, and get the air moving.  You can opt to blow the cold air in or the hot air out—but the main objective is air flow. 

Step 4: Secure the windows before going to bed only if you need to. 

Step 5: As soon as baby squeals at 5 a.m., open windows up again and get those fans on.

Step 6: When the temperature outside is hotter than inside, close everything up.

Step 7: Repeat as needed.

I actually get ridiculously excited as the fans whir around the house in the evening and our thermostat radically drops.  We’re able to keep the interior of our house between 70-76 degrees on even the hottest days just by opening and closing windows.

If evening and morning ventilation doesn’t seem to keep the heat down during the day, consider having an energy audit to check out your insulation.  Insulation is the biggest energy saver in heating and cooling your home and it should be working just as hard in the summer as it does in the winter.

Another strategy is to plant fast growing deciduous trees near your home so that you can have some relief in the years to come.  Believe it or not, there’s actually a website entitled “fast growing trees” that can help you find some options for your region.

If any sunbelt dwellers happen to still be reading, there is hope for you in the future as a company called BROAD is working on solar powered air conditioning.  Isn’t that the most obviously brilliant idea ever?  If you live in a dry climate, you may want to look into a swamp cooler as an eco-friendlier alternative to an air conditioner.

In the meantime, we’ll stick to our fans, our popsicles (organic and veggie) and an occasional run through the sprinkler.  I’ll end up using the same technology to keep my child cool that my grandmother did six decades ago–––which happens to be great for the planet and my pocketbook. 


  1. Great post! That’s how my dad kept our house cool in Boston when I was growing up (and how his family kept *their* house cool in DC when he was a boy). I dunno if you already do this, but he kept his shades down when hot and the top inch of the window open (hot air rises?). Gotta get my fan out of my attic!

  2. This is definitely the old-fashioned way. I have never in my adult life had AC and this is the way my grandmother used to do it.

    On the few days each year when the temps climb up to 100, we add to this list: popsicles, before bedtime trips to the local outdoor fountain, cool washcloth on your face, more popsicles.

  3. This is so common sense it shouldn’t wow me but reading it I was thinking “Oohhh, what a great idea!”. We live in one of those humid zones so it wouldn’t work all the time but I do want to do this more when the weather isn’t so summery.

    When I was very young my family lived in Trinidad. There all the homes have open brick high up to let the heat out. My dad also used those in/out window fans – not in Trinidad but in other homes – and those really do work well. Oh, and they also just gave us a Vornado standing fan that is supposed to circulate the air in the whole house extremely well. I’ve only been using it in the room my baby sleeps in but it does seem to do good there.

  4. I admire the valuable information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!

  5. Gotta get my fan out of my attic!

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