Food & Fitness

Alternatives to Air Conditioners

Making some changes

You may have noticed that the layout of Living Healthy in the Real World has undergone a makeover! I have finally found a blog template that I really like. I met with my graphic designer earlier this week and we made some fun changes to my entire website. Check out the main Living in the Real World page, from which you can access this health blog, my Twitter profile, Facebook Fan Page, Living Rhetorically in the Real World blog, Health Writer Eats food blog, Living Well health column, as well as my freelancing page which is currently under construction (yes, I am available for freelance editing and writing. Please contact me at sagan.morrow[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested!) Take a look around and let me know what you think. You can even support my healthy lifestyle by clicking on the Donate button in the sidebar 😀

Staying cool

My home is hot. Hot enough that I’m sweating before I even leave the house in the morning. Hot enough that when I get home from work at the end of the day, I have to stand in front of the fan to cool off.

But that’s okay – I will take heat over cold any day (summer, I *heart* you). And it’s also my own choice. I have an air conditioner in my storage closet in the basement of my condo building that was leftover from the previous owners of my condo, but I’m leaving it down there. Instead I have two fans that are turned on 24/7 to cool down the place with air circulation.

There are many benefits of using simple fans in place of air conditioners. They use much less electricity, are environmentally-friendly as well as being inexpensive, and they don’t “dry out” your home the way that an air conditioner does. Keeping the windows open, as well, to let in the breeze, is a nice way to get fresh air moving into your home and to maintain a connection to the great outdoors (even if it is polluted city air coming through your window ;)). Air conditioners also contribute to climate change, which means that they actually increase temperatures and cause us to want to crank up the air conditioning even more!

When going on road trips (such as to Riding Mountain for hiking trips), we’re moving too fast on the highway to be able to comfortably sit in the car with the windows rolled down. In these situations, I usually do like to have the air conditioner on. But we should make the effort as much as possible to reduce the frequency of our air conditioner use and to instead use more natural ways to keep cool.

Living healthy isn’t necessarily about eliminating unhealthy things completely from our lives. It’s about decreasing the unhealthy things that we do and increasing the healthy aspects. If you are looking to stay cool in the hot summer weather, there are other ways to do it than to crank up the air conditioning. Drink plenty of water, take cooler showers, and keep those fans running to better your physical health as well as your financial health and the environment’s health.

How do you live healthy while staying comfortable?


  1. fd

    thanks for this, I loathe AC (except, like you, on long journeys) so nice to see someone promoting something else.
    I’m sure you do it, but you haven’t mentioned the importance of opening the windows to catch the cool air at night and shutting windows and blinds/shutters by day to keep the cool air in. This doesn’t really work if you live right under the roof but should work for all other spaces. 🙂
    Also just put some water on your skin if you really are too warm, it’ll pick up the moving air and cool you down.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Oh my goodness, I didn’t think of that! My window is just perpetually open. I never thought about shutting it during the day to keep the cool air in. Thanks for that tip!

      Damp cloths are fantasic for putting on the skin to cool down.

  2. Emergefit

    I have always been confused about this god-given right to stay cool. Man lived without AC until just few decades ago. Perhaps I’m spoiled living in San Diego, and it’s easier for me to say this, but I have not used my heater or AC in the last 10 years — and yes we do get some very hot days where I live.

    As far as sleeping comfortably goes, a glass of ice water on my bedside table and ceiling fan works wonders!!!

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Exactly. We’ve become rather lazy as time goes on, expecting technology to do everything for us.

      That being said, I can’t imagine living without heaters! When you live in a city where the temperatures get colder than -30 degrees C for half the year, sometimes the blankets and tea just don’t cut it. That’s a major reason why I compromise: I make use of the heater in the winter, but I don’t use the air conditioner in my house in the summer (even if it DOES get to be +30 degrees).

  3. mary

    Unfortunately, I am from the other side as you. Living in south Louisiana, where the heat index hovers in the triple digits for at least 4 months, air conditioning is a must. Add humidity to the mix, and you have an absolutely miserable summer without air. 90’s in the shade, houses even hotter. When Hurricane Gustav hit, and we lost power for a week, generators and window units were a blessing. On the other hand, we can go the entire winter without heat. Sometimes we’ll fire it up quickly in the morning just to chase the chill away while getting ready for work/school, but 30’s (Fahrenheit) would be cold for us. I understand Emergefit’s point about not having air until recently, but we could say the same for just about anything (cars, electricity, running water, etc). I also understand your point about them not being eco-friendly, but I’d rather conserve another way and use my air conditioner!! Thanks for the great topic.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      You make a wonderful argument and I agree with you entirely. We all must make our sacrifices, and sometimes it is simply NOT feasible to make certain sacrifices! You need your air conditioning in the summer just like I need my heater turned on in the winter – there are other ways, like you say, that we can conserve energy. This is just one of the many 🙂

  4. cathy

    I have to agree with Mary about living in the South. It is a whole different ball game down there. And yet…my grandparents did without AC in north Mississippi – as did we when we visited them. They knew how to live and work in the heat, but it didn’t make the hot any less hot. I do think that AC has a place in some areas, and that area is one.

    When we lived in Boulder, CO, where it can get scorching hot during the day in the summer but cools down at night thanks to low humidity, we didn’t have AC. There were days that I longed for it, but we made do with swamp coolers (aka evaporative coolers). Swamp coolers simply wouldn’t work in the US South where the humidity is too high.

    Now I live in a place where it’s rare to see 90 F. We’re in the middle of a heat wave right now with temps soaring close to 90 and falling back into the 40s and 50s at night. Smart use of window and ceiling fans keep us plenty cool all day. I love it, but I’m just the opposite of you – give me cool, not heat!

  5. Mary Anne in Kentucky

    Here in Kentucky we get cold winters and hot summers. Hot DAMP summers. My mind boggled when you said air conditioners “don’t “dry out” your home the way that an air conditioner does.” Not having mold growing in the house is a _good_ thing! ; ) Even so, since moving to this solar house, I have only used the air conditioning in the bedroom during my pollen season. Keeping the windows closed when the temperature is in the 70s and 80s is not bearable. Keeping the windows open all night and in the cool of the morning with the ceiling fans running when the temperature is in the upper nineties is comfortable. The indoor temperature has never gotten above 82F, even when the nights don’t drop below 78F. (I love heat! 82F is just about when I don’t need a blanket.)

    In the car I am completely different from you, Sagan. I gave up trying to buy cars without air conditioning (“Why,” I kept asking the dealers, “should I spend a thousand dollars on something I won’t use more than three weeks a year?”) a few years ago and find it useful during the pollen season. I also run it when I have ice cream in the car. Otherwise, the windows are down. My last two dogs have been Australian Cattle Dogs, bred for the heat, so they are comfortable when I am, but in the future I may have breeds that are less heat-adapted, so then the car AC may be handy.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      I bet it’s super useful in pollen season with your allergies! But like I said, I’m all about the windows in cars – it’s just when I’m going 100 km down the highway that rolling the windows down aren’t so much fun (I don’t like getting dust and bugs flying in ;)).

  6. Hanlie

    Oh I agree with you! I would die without air-conditioning in my car, but at home I’m quite happy with the ceiling fan… Similarly, in winter I prefer not to use the climate control except on the very coldest of days.

      1. Mary Anne in Kentucky

        Put that on your to do list. Ceiling fans rock. There are ceiling fans in five of the six rooms in this house (not counting bathrooms–they have exhaust fans.)

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