Welcome To Our “AC-Free” Zone

I don’t judge how anyone tries to keep cool. Just don’t close the freezer door on his head…

(Image credit: PXHere)


Welcome To Our “AC-Free” Zone. As I’m fanning myself, I’m beginning to question the combination of frugality and spite that led us to this place…

Last August I opened a power bill for a galactic $423.74. Yes. One month’s worth of air conditioning. To put it nicely, sweetly, as gently as I can, Utah is a life-sucking dust bowl of death during the summer. May is often even chilly and maybe June suckers you into thinking, “Hey, maybe this summer won’t be so bad…” Then, July rolls around and the heat hits you like a cricket bat to the back of the head. The temperature gleefully climbs to triple digits and squats there like a malevolent wasp over your picnic blanket. It doesn’t take long before everyone’s hovering by their thermostat, wondering why it isn’t cooler yet!

But, please. A $423.74 power bill?

So, here we go- a solemn vow between my spouse and me that we would go “AC-Free” for the entire summer. This was not met with enthusiasm when we announced it to our offspring. But my mother, who grew up in a tiny Southern Utah town, was all in. While I notice her air conditioner is buzzing along industriously when I stop by her house, she has a huge list of suggestions of how people actually survived when there was no such thing as central air.

We’ve implemented the ideas below, and I’ll keep adding new ones to this post as the broiling H-E-double hockey sticks of this month continues.

Welcome To Our “AC-Free” Zone

  • This one seems obvious: a cold shower. I prefer baths, but complete submersion in ice-cold water seemed ill-advised. I can keep moving under a frigid spray. This worked. It cooled my skin enough to fall asleep, even though the bedroom was at 89 degrees. BTW: try a rainshower shower head to pretend you really are under some heavenly waterfall in Hawaii and not your stinking hot apartment- find some easy attachments here.
  • Lucky enough to have a breeze going? Hang a wet sheet from your open window and use the evaporative cooling of the wind to bring the temperature down. This worked. There was enough of a comfortable chill that we slept like babies.
  • Turn off those damn lights!! Gee, I can hear my dad’s words come out of my mouth as I holler at my offspring. It’s a small but obvious point that lightbulbs – even the high-efficiency ones – give off their own heat, adding to your misery. Since it stays lighter longer this time of the year, take advantage of it to keep the lights off. Kind of worked? We’re still pondering this one, but after a week of keeping the lights off until around 9 pm, it seems a little cooler. BTW: there are some low-heat lightbulbs that still manage to be affordable and energy-efficient, have a look here.
  • Drinking one or more cold glasses of water before bed. Replace fluids lost from sweating so dehydration doesn’t interfere with sleep. So stupid. Unless getting up repeatedly through the night because of said glasses of water was part of the plan and then trying to go back to sleep, this was a giant failure.


(Image credit: Pixabay)


  • Meet your new best friend: Mr. Ceiling Fan. When we moved into this house, we wondered if the previous owner owned a ceiling fan franchise. Just about every room had one… which as it turns out, has been our become our best ally. Just remember to adjust the settings on the fan so the blades run counter-clockwise, pulling hot air up and out instead of simply spinning it around the room. No ceiling fan? Put a box fan in your window, turned to pull hot air out of the room and blowing it outside where it belongs. This worked. Our fans run constantly for a fraction of the electrical demand of the air conditioner. BTW: there’s some high-tech, low price ceiling fans here.
  • The most memorable line from my Zachie’s favorite movie, George of the Jungle is this: “Who wears 90 pounds of black leather in the jungle? Cotton! Cotton breathes!” This worked. The villain was correct- Egyptian cotton sheets treat your poor, hot skin more kindly than satin or a grim polyester blend. The lightweight cotton wicks away sweat and allow for a more “breathable” sleep. BTW: I found some surprisingly affordable thread counts on Amazon here.


So, this is where we are, a third of the way through July. More ideas next week – what worked and what didn’t. If we live that long. But our power bill will be a tiny, diminished version of its robust former self! Take that, power company!

What keeps you cool during the blow-torch hot months in your neck of the woods? Share! Spill! We’re giving away a $50 Amazon.com gift card for one of your clever ideas on August 1, 2109.


These links go to our affiliate/influencer page on Amazon.com, where we may receive a tiny commission if you purchase something we recommend.

(Cover image credit: Pedro Sandrini)

(shower image credit Pixabay)

10 replies
  1. N Sunshyn V
    N Sunshyn V says:

    We’re in a similar position. No ac this year due to the expense. We did install a big attic fan last fall, and it does seem to help, but this weekend is hell. My mother just brought over a little Artic Air device for me to use, and I just set it up next to me. I guess is was only $25 or so and it is definitely making things more livable(!) for one person use.
    My husband claims he can probably install one of those DIY mini-split systems himself so I’m trying to save enough to get one through ebay or amazon before next year.

  2. Auriette
    Auriette says:

    We have one window a/c with a warmer-to-cooler style thermostat. We keep that turned to about the 2 o’clock position on the dial. W 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.

  3. Tracy L
    Tracy L says:

    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!

  4. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    When we realized how high our power bill was because of the central air we shut us down. We did some research and ended up getting a big window swamp cooler and using it for a fraction of the cost.

    • Todd & Erin
      Todd & Erin says:

      Melissa- this is what we’re going to end up doing. Utah’s super dry, so a swamp cooler makes sense. Thank you!


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