Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coping Frugally With the Weather

It's hot! It's hard to believe that we were drinking hot cocoa a week ago; the mercury hit 100° yesterday and is forecast for 105° today. I'm awake in the cool of the morning, however, with the windows open trying to cool the house. It was too warm last night to open the windows before bed.

Our house is built with plaster and lathe construction, an older method that has its benefits and drawbacks. The walls hold heat and cold really well; this is an advantage when the weather is moderate, but not so much when it is very hot (or very cold, but that is rare). On summer nights our house starts releasing heat back into our home. Even if we can open the windows to cool things down it will heat up again as soon as the windows are closed.

I think this summer has felt more like the summers of my youth than any I have experienced in the past decade. It isn't the weather is different - I am different. I am choosing to cool the house with the A/C far less than we used to. We awaken early (something I am so glad to have transitioned to) and do most of our activities before it gets terribly hot. Yesterday I was baking from 6:30 - 8:30AM, and the guys rode their bikes during that time. (Today it is going to be so hot that I won't even bake.) We set the thermostat high (growing up we didn't have A/C), around 83°. We run ceiling fans when we are in the rooms that have them (turning them off when we leave the room - they don't cool the air, only the person). I have one stand fan that I move from the living room to the kitchen as needed.

There is a big difference between cooling the house to 83° than the 78 - 80° I have done in the past. At 78° I don't feel warm in the house at all, just comfortable. At 80° I am comfortable most of the time. At 83° I am warm and don't have a lot of energy. But it isn't 83° right now, not with the windows open and a temperature of 68° outside (lower than forecast!!!).

I am encouraging the boys to dress appropriately for the weather; I wear a loose cotton skirt and camisole everyday, and suggest that they wear shorts and flip flops. But really, they never complain about the temperature of the house (unless they are too cold). They complain about how hot it is outside if they are riding in it, but other than that the weather is simply something that is, and complaining doesn't change it.

We drink lots of water, iced, and sometimes bubbly (using a SodaStream maker). If we are really hot we'll process ice and water into slushy ice in my blender. The boys love that. Last night we were all refreshed by enjoying a cold watermelon that I cut into cubes. I need to get popsicles made, but we have made food processor sorbet in the past week. Today I think I will make a lemon sorbet in the ice cream maker.

It's funny to think that we should be able to have our houses the same temperature indoors year round, and to dress the same year round, and to eat the same foods year round and simply not be affected by the weather at all unless we leave our homes. We used to do almost that, although I never cooled my house down to ice box temperatures or heated it to the point that I could wear t-shirts in winter. But I don't like pretending that the weather doesn't exist; I enjoy the seasons and the changes that come with them, both inside and outside. Variety is the spice of life.

It all seems like common sense, and yet I know it isn't. Many people are raised with the comforts of A/C and don't know how to get by without it; indeed, they may not know that they can, and they accept high energy bills as a necessity rather than a luxury. I think it's sad, but it isn't my business to tell a person what temperature they should be comfortable at or how they should spend their money. Unless someone specifically asks me for advice on saving money I will keep my mouth firmly shut.

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