The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

New summer highs, new AC

In-wall airconditioner

With 20/20 hindsight, I've concluded that a partial cause of last summer's stomach troubles was simply heat stress. We used to see only a few days each summer when highs exceeded 90...but last year we instead had to deal with weeks of that weather with no relief in sight. When similar highs began in April this year, I decided to lower my standards and buy an air conditioner.

Hanging air conditioner

Mark already has an AC in his man cave, so he knew exactly how to put one into odd spaces. In true Trailersteading style, he installed my unit by cutting a hole in the wall then chinking back in around it until the air conditioner became a permanent part of our living space. No air leakage there!

Although I felt exceedingly guilty when I turned the unit on the first time, I quickly realized two things. Using basic passive cooling techniques and setting the thermostat at 74 means the AC only runs for short intervals even on the hottest days. Plus, since my brain shuts down once my living space rises above about 83, the air conditioner has more than paid for itself by increasing my writing time. I suspect this will be another one of those modern conveniences I learn to long as we keep the energy use within reason.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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When they installed my doublewide, I deliberately sited it so that the side with all the windows (I picked one like that on purpose) was pointing towards the south with the idea that during the winter, all those windows would let the sun in and thus assist with heating. I was right about that and it has helped considerably. The furnace shuts off around 10AM and doesn't come back on until around 3PM. When I added a sliding glass door on the west side of the house, I inadvertently discovered that by opening the east kitchen window and also the sliding glass door, there's a wonderful breeze that flows through the house and helps to keep it cool. Then a windstorm blew most of the shingles off the roof and the insurance company gave me money for a new metal roof that was installed over the shingled roof, thus adding an extra inch or two of airspace between the two roofs. Voila! Temps in the summertime are now another 10 degrees cooler than before! Of course if it's over 85 I still turn the air conditioner on.
Comment by Nayan Tue May 16 07:26:39 2017

I can't agree with you enough that it's harder to think when it's too warm in the house. Here in the northern SF Bay Area, summers are cool or comfortable until they're not. Longtime residents claim you only use or wish for AC for a few weeks a year in total. But I think our local climate changing for the hotter. I actually prefer a lifestyle without AC, practing passive cooling techniques and enjoying the natural changes in temperature throughout the a point. Glad you're enjoying your AC. Maybe I'll take the plunge again one (hot) day.

Comment by Jennifer Tue May 16 09:52:05 2017
Now all you need is an Instant Pot to keep the kitchen cool in the summer while cooking and you'll be right up to speed. :)
Comment by Nita Tue May 16 11:27:46 2017

As a native Minnesotan of Scandinavian heritage residing in south Georgia, I can't thank the inventor of the air conditioner enough!

Living where it hit 95 today and knowing it will be like that until mid September does not make me happy...

At least in SW VA where you are it cools down at night- here, you can go outside at 10 PM and it will still be in the low 80's and so humid the sweat starts to drip as you do nothing but stand still!

NOBODY is going to think less of you because you put in a window unit. :)

Comment by Eric Tue May 16 21:40:36 2017
Winter I can skimp on heat but summer ac is my friend. Even love the white noise.
Comment by Jim Thu May 18 10:25:36 2017
Another good side is I collect the water from the ac for garden watering
Comment by Olan Thu May 18 18:55:54 2017

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