Living without Air Conditioning

I’ve never lived somewhere with air conditioning. That’s not exactly eco-boasting, as I’ve also never lived somewhere with unbearable humidity. Here in Portland, the thermostat soars past 100 degrees almost every summer, but I’m able to keep things cool—or at least stave off heat stroke—using some passive cooling techniques. Last summer my indoor temperatures reached 93 degrees, which was a bit uncomfortable, but I lived to tell about it. The worst part was having to stay indoors, as it was hotter outside than in!

This summer on the east coast, they’ve been suffering through record-breaking highs. This NY Times article highlights some of the ways city folk have battled the heat wave—such as wearing “dirt-colored clothing” to avoid doing laundry in a sweltering basement.

If you don’t have air conditioning, the planet thanks you. But how are you coping without the canned air? And how do you keep baby cool when even the nights don’t bring in a cool breeze? Here are our not-very-original tips for keeping baby cool in the hot sun. What are yours?


  1. We currently live without AC in the Boston area, which has been pretty hot this summer. There are a few days that I’ve been cursing, but our ceiling fans really help. When the baby gets up (which is pretty early), I open the door and get the inside of the house as cool as possible. If I can get it down to 80F or below then we’ll have a pretty good day! If I can’t get it down below 85F then we’re going to be sweating. We also spend time at a park with water and I’ve done baths on the worst days.

    I’ve living many places without air conditioning and survived. In Florida I used to get socks wet and freeze them, then put them on my feet, and refrigerate sheets before bedtime!

  2. I’ve had a ton of people this summer mock me for not having air conditioning (we live in upstate NY). I’ve had a 20 year old invite me and my daughter over to “get out of the heat”, embarrassing. Since my daughter was just born 6 months ago, we did consider putting air conditioning in, but I’ve never had it before and thought that the summers here are rarely constantly hot and what is comfort on just a few days compared to the cost and environmental impact of AC? Well, that bit me in the butt. Anyway, we did get a room AC for my daughter’s room which we’ve used maybe 5 times this summer. We bought a little baby pool for the back yard and use an old patio umbrella laying down for shade for the pool. She sports only a cloth diaper on the hottest days and I have one fan running in the family room. She isn’t all that upset. My best defense personally, and I learned this one years ago, is to try to get out for some intense sweaty exercise (usually a yoga class in a hot room). Once you finish that, ANYTHING feels cool! Of course, you need to drink lots of water:-)

  3. No air conditioning? Yeah right, that will never happen for us. We live in Florida, on the central east coast where it is HOT and worst of all HUMID like 80%+++ humidity all day long! We couldn’t even imagine living a remotely happy life with out air conditioning in the spring, summer and fall. It is really miserable outside and even with the windows open, there is little breeze (homes are generally built facing south/north) and winds blow east/west) so the temperature inside is usually the same if not higher then it is out outdoors. That being said, our house had a new unit installed right before we moved it and it is very efficient so we are able to keep the temp set at 79-81. We also just had a home energy audit done (for free) by the power company who gave us great advice on how to save energy through out our home and ways to give our air a break. They also gave us a nice $150 credit to use towards adding more insulation into our 1960’s attic. With a newborn baby who has reflux and a stressed out mommy trying to balance an energetic two year old too, air conditioning keeps me sane. Also i’ve noticed that my newborn will not nurse on a sweaty mommy, he feels the heat and tension and would rather throw a fit until i get cleaned and cooled off. I know they say that babies don’t care how long its been since you showered, they just want to be with you, but that doesn’t hold true for my kid, he wants a nice clean plate to eat his meals off of.

  4. Shannon F. says

    We don’t have air conditioning (central or window units), and this is our first summer in upstate NY (we didn’t have air conditioning in Hawaii but there was such great trade winds coming in from the windows it wasn’t needed). We take cold baths before bedtime, because it seems that it’s most difficult to sleep when it’s sweltering. The first dip in that bath takes your breath away!, but it really does lower your core body temp.

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