Our A/C Free Challenge: How Our Blistering Month Concluded


(Image credit Elasticomputerfarm)


Our A/C Free Challenge: How Our Blistering Month Concluded…

It all started with opening an electric bill for a galactic $423.74 last August. FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY-THREE FREAKING DOLLARS (and don’t forget 74 cents!) to cool our home for ONE MONTH? So – mostly based on spite – we decided to go A/C free this July to see if our pampered selves could handle it.

Naturally, we received tons of old-school suggestions, some that worked, some that kind of worked, and some that completely killed our love life.

That first round of ideas lasted us two weeks. June had softened us, my friend. We kept hopefully thinking, “Yeah, July won’t be so bad this year, right?”


Once it hits 100+ for days and days in a row, when even opening our windows to a cooling night breeze is yet another cruel taunt, we had to get creative…


Our A/C Free Challenge:

(Image credit: Freephotos)


  • Eat spicy foods. What, seriously? This came from our friend Tran, his family hails from Vietnam. Spicy foods like curries and chilies stimulate the heat receptors in your mouth. They also make you start sweating and raise your internal temperature. This kind of worked? The Todd loves hot food anyway, but I couldn’t convince myself that setting my esophagus on fire was going to cool down the rest of me.
  • Turn on the bathroom and kitchen fans. When we showered or cooked, we kept the fans on to pull out the hot air that rises out of the house. This worked: surprisingly, it did seem to lower the temperature- at least temporarily.
  • Using our windows as a sneaky pioneer-trick cooling system: we created a cooling pressure airflow, open the top section of windows on the downwind side of the house, and open the bottom section of windows on the upwind side. Sometimes worked: if there was a breeze, this was pretty handy. Unfortunately, sometimes Utah summers blast nothing but a spiteful flow of hot air, even at night.


(Image credit: Tlingerpictures)


Plus, we got some excellent suggestions from YOU:

From Tracy L – “When our A/C broke earlier this summer someone told us to run your wrists under cold tap water and it will cool you right down. It sounds goofy but it really works. Getting a good nights sleep is another challenge. Good luck!”

Kind of worked? This wrist-cooling technique was surprisingly helpful during the day.

From Auriette – “We have ceiling fans in the living room and the office (the rooms where we are sitting the most) and we have a box fan in the hall, drawing the a/c out of the bedroom and through the house. We don’t run the a/c at night, except on very rare occasions, but we do have a ceiling fan right over the bed. Our electric bills run between $50 and (rarely) $100. Our house is about 1400 square feet.

I find that “ice balls” instead of ice cubes will last longer, especially if you (a) use two at a time and (b) use a thermal cup. I have one that seems to compare nicely to a Yeti, based on the amount of time it takes ice water to warm up. Also, I keep a bottle of water in the fridge, so I’m pouring already-cold water over my ice balls. There will still be bits of ice eight hours later, even if I take it to the boiling hot park for my fitness group.

Worked! The ice ball trick – while making me giggle uncontrollably -was surprisingly effective, keeping our drinks cold as I relentlessly nagged my offspring to hydrate. BTW: You can find some cheap ice ball trays here.


So, the Big Bill Reveal:

It was with a savage level of satisfaction that I went online to check our July 2019 power usage. Anything had to be better than that glaringly offensive $423.74. And frankly, after all the days of – let’s be honest -marinating in our own sweat as we fanned each other feebly, I wanted something BIG! A steep dive in the bottom line of that bill!

So… July 2018: $423.74

July 2019: $211.14

Huh. I’m not going to lie, I totally thought we’d done better than THAT. I called the power company, asked for a review. They called back to apologize and say that they’d miscalculated our energy usage and the final total was… $209.67.

While I’m happy it was significantly lower, I wanted to screech like a barn owl in fury. ALL THAT WORK for $200 less?


But then it occurred to me… In the middle of hacking and twisting and manipulating the blast-furnace ferocity of a Utah summer, we did a couple of other things. We went to the cheap movies a lot. Traveled through every canyon in a 70-mile radius. (We’re in the mountains, there’s a lot of canyons.) Spent several nights sleeping in our backyard and telling the kids about the Big Dipper, and the story of Andromeda and then about the constellation of Orion. We completed our local library’s Summer Reading Challenge in record time because we spent many an afternoon there. My eight-year-old Zoe and I learned how to suspend those cool hammocks between two trees at the park. She ended up giving lessons on prime hammock suspension to a bunch of interested Millennials.


(Image credit: Josh Hild)

In short, our family ended up spending more time together than in any summer in my memory. Drawn together by our desperation to cool off, sure, but we hung out. So in the end? It was worth it. Totally. Will we do this next year? Oh, hell no!! We’re researching solar and swamp cooler options.

Oh! And congratulations to Auriette, who offered some great ideas for keeping cool. She wins the $50 Amazon.com gift card for her valiant efforts to keep us from broiling like a chicken breast. Thanks to everyone from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and several concerned emails questioning our mental stability.

For more genius ways (not ours, obviously) stop by our Amazon.com page – this is an endorsement page and we may make a small sum if you purchase something.

(Cover image credit: pexel2013)

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