We Have Not Used Air-Conditioning This Summer Because I Listen To NPR

I have a terrible secret to share with you that I totally gave away in my title: We have not turned on the AC this summer except for 12 hours back in May.

To put our insanity into perspective for anyone who lives in Canada, here is last week’s Richmond, Virginia weather report:

  • 91 F (33 C — for the Canadians DUH)
  • 97 F (36 C)
  • 99 F (37 C)
  • 97 F (36 C)
  • 91 F (33 C)
  • 90 F (32 C)
  • 88 F (31 C)

The days above 95 F actually include a gif of the sun lighting a cactus on fire with the words HOLY CRAP IT’S HOT as the cactus’ cartoon face melts off.

How did we end up in the horror movie, SAW VIII: Jigsaw puts a family in a house without AC in Virginia?

First, I listen to NPR. (My conservative friends must be right, NPR is ruining my family.) In May, NPR has the audacity to broadcast the story of a North Carolina couple who haven’t used AC since the Carter administration. They run it once a year to make sure it still works; otherwise, it’s just windows, the heat, and helping the environment.

I tell Scott the story, and as it turns out, he accidentally listens because 3 days later summer attacked Richmond like a hungry horde of zombies, and Scott nonchalantly says: I didn’t turn on the AC.

Me: What? Why?

Scott: Well, you told me about that couple in North Carolina and…

Me: OH MY GAWD! We’re doing that this summer? I never thought you’d agree to it so I didn’t even ask but now we’re doing it. YES!

Scott: Wait, um, what?

The following day, the high is 85 and the low is not much better so Scott turns on the AC upstairs because his stick-with-it-ness doesn’t include stick-to-the-sheets-ness.

Me: What are you doing?

Scott: That was fun but now it’s time to use the AC because I need to sleep.

Me: Oh no. TOO LATE. You said we could do it. Now I’m all in. Plus, I’ve convinced myself that part of the reason I hate summer is because the heat is even worse when I go out from the coolness of our home. I’m in SHOCK, which leads quickly to not wanting to leave the house — one the signs of depression. WE ARE SAVING ME. I’ll be fully acclimated to the fiery pits of Virginia summers in no time! Heat and me will BFF it from high noon until midnight. And you know that I hate conditioned air. Ew. I think it bothers my allergies and I like open windows and it’s so much better for the environment. Don’t you want to leave our kids TREES? We are saving the world and …

My MANY INTERESTING THOUGHTS put Scott to asleep so the AC stays on for 12 hours, but the following day, I turn it back off confident my DownwithAC UpwithHappy speech soaked into Scott’s deep sleepy conscience. Of course, when I step out of the house for a few hours, Scott tries to turn on the AC downstairs, but the temperature control breaks.

He says: You got lucky.


He rolls his eyes and sweats away.

I win!

We are now 6 weeks into summer, own 6 fans, and not 1 person in our family wore underwear today.

Surprisingly, the NPR story never mentions that last part. They also forget to mention how we keep guests from leaving, get motivated to move off the couch or keep our glasses from sliding down our sweaty noses.

But, man, is our electric bill low and our go green self-righteousness high.

PS. This is the forecast for next week. I look forward to dying on Friday.


The Air-Conditioning Update: Is Our AC On?

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

43 thoughts to “We Have Not Used Air-Conditioning This Summer Because I Listen To NPR”

  1. Oh my goodness. I do not whether to be proud of you or scared for you and call a special number. :o) We would die in our house upstairs because even with the AC on it feel like it’s not and we have a fan in our room and Lucy’s room WITH WORKING AC. Keep the no ac blogging going! And if you need stay with us one night to keep it going, feel free, but you have to bunk with Sampson.

  2. YES! I am right there with you. I mean, most of the time. Twice we turned it on for a night because I was crabby.

    I need to FEEL summer. I want all the windows open in summer!

    My friends were saying how it’s nice when they hang out with us, because they can say they feel guilty turning on the air and we don’t ask them, “Are you okay? Do you need to borrow money?”

    They also convinced us to stop using our dishwasher. WHAT.

      1. I think that is the story — thanks Ashley! I didn’t think to email myself the story back in May since I never ever thought we’d do it, and I couldn’t find it this weekend because I kept including North Carolina in my google search. Where did I get NC from? I can’t imagine there are 2 couples doing this. Well, I guess now there is but in general…

  3. Environment shminviroment I turn on the AC. I too get the thing where I won’t leave the house when it’s hot but without the AC I am not able to function outside of where the fan is blowing.
    But you go! I’ll cheer you on from my blast chiller.

    Also it was equally hot in Southern Ontario last week, we had 2 days over 100.

  4. Well, I’m an environmentalist. But frankly, you’re nuts.

    But then, I live in Northern California. Fog is our natural AC, so I don’t even have it. Have a great summer!?

  5. OMG. You are so much stronger than I am. I live 2 hours north of you and I don’t know what I’d do without AC. (Megan doesn’t have it in her car and I felt like passing out when she drove me home from work recently. She’s strong, too.) You guys are awesome. The environment thanks you!

    The sad thing is, my office building goes in the opposite direction and blasts the AC so much that it’s usually freezing in here when it’s hot outside. Can’t we have a happy medium?!

    1. The NPR piece talked about that — how our office building condition us to feel like we have to have it cold. Although I don’t understand why they blast it… it must be some sort of bureaucracy thing.

      1. I’m convinced it’s the men in suits. If they’d loosen up a little (and maybe lose a layer of clothing) the rest of us wouldn’t freeze. It’s their own fault they’re so warm.

        1. YES!!! BLAME THE MEN IN SUITS! My office building is the same way! Can’t a lady wear a cute dress to work without needing to add 8 cardigans just to survive the work day?

  6. The fan on our air conditioner broke last week, so we are without it in HOT Canada as well. Yes, that’s right – we live in British Columbia and it’s a semi-desert here. I could not believe it either, and my family back in Germany still thinks we live in an igloo 😉
    I agree with you about not using the air, I also never turn it on in the car, because it just doesn’t feel “right”.

  7. I haven’t used A/C in years either; not because I was trying to do the right thing, but because the house I live in does not have it. Though… I am moving next month and still plan to do without. With enough fans, ceiling fans, and a vivid imagination, I believe that I will survive this summer as well!

  8. WTF. No. Just…no.

    Our AC compressor went out last summer, I think it was, during one of the hottest weeks we had. If it weren’t for the window unit in our bonus room, I think I might have ponied up for a hotel stay. I do. not. like. heat. I’ve always said it’s better to be too cold than too warm, because it’s easier to warm up than to cool down.

      1. It’s the room (pair of rooms, technically) over the garage that could have been attic space but instead are now the guest suite. The way the house is set up, they don’t get cool enough for comfort in summer off of the house’s main HVAC, so we have a window unit that acts as a mini-“upstairs A/C” when used along with a box fan blowing down the hall.

        Now go soak your head.

  9. I think that’s amazing what you are doing. I am pretty sure I couldn’t survive the 100* temp without AC. I *might* be able to pull off. I don’t know if I’m quite willing to try it yet though. Definitely looking up this story!

  10. I grew up with no AC. If I lived by myself I probably still wouldn’t use it. You might want to bust out a sprinkler on Friday though. Also, all of the sweating should really help keep your skin looking youthful!

  11. Let me tell you a little story…

    back in june of 2005 a certain couple got married. they had a house and decided they didn’t need no sticking AC. So they go on their honeymoon to SC where it is a million degrees. They get back and Michigan is having an ugly heat wave of high 90’s/low 100’s. And thick humidity. As they grab all their bags, they open the door to their new home and look forward to the familiar rush of cool air. Instead, because they don’t have AC, they get a wall of wet heat.

    The next day they spend all of their wedding money on putting central air in their house.

    end of story.

    oh, and you are totes cray.

    that is why i love you.

  12. Hey Alex-love this Post-please write more about your summer w/o ac or not!!!
    I almost wrote you when you wrote I Hate Summer b/c I Hated last summer & I, a late July baby, LOVED Summer as a Kid/young adult in CT and the Cape on the shore, in Chitown-hot time/back of my neck getting sweaty and gritty and MI by the lake, at RISD in Providence, RI, Berkshire mtns at UU camp and many other fun places my dr/shrink dad and lawyer mom took us in August….camping all summer in CO w/ crazy BF etc etc…even camping with bugs that love me to death…always outside and all SANS air conditioning…

    So what happened LAst SUMMER-I got insanely depressed….I stayed inside with air conditioning, let my garden go to ruins, created/painted nothing, no magic, ignored my dog, no picnics, cried A lot…called my husband at work and moaned pitifully, never went to the river-1/2 mile from house, didn’t even go to dance-my tried and true love…total rejection of Summer

    What went wrong—->And the Solution IS-Don’t Use AC and end up staying inside….get use to the heat….wear very little inside..when very hot go outside in early morning and late night….love/drink/swim in water….use AC only when Desperate….FANS….COOL non/ALC Bevs….Find coolness/shade(well a few degrees cooler) outdoors..feel GOOD about saving energy and enjoy/accept SWeating……

    look FW to hearing more much care LIsahhh

  13. I keep thinking no AC and very little showering could be used as a form of birth control. It would at least be as effective as holding asprin between your knees or the rhythm method. You could be an advisor to the Romney campaign and eventually be responsible for making conservatives go green or at least give them a reason to promote the importance of reducing energy use. You might be saving the planet one sweaty blog post at a time! Also, mothers on both side of the political spectrum now have a legitimate and respectable reason for not showering and for wearing pajamas all day (they are saving water by reducing laundry).

  14. Never, ever invite me to your house. Like ever. I’d die. And I know you have been all “I should invite that other blogger named Alex to who lives in California but used to live in Virginia.” but don’t because I won’t come, unless its Winter.

    Just today our local news suggested keeping the thermostat at 78 when not home…but once I get home do they actually think I’d be alive to turn it down to its normal 68, because I will have surely died from a heat stroke.

    😀 But more power to you all!

  15. I’m sorry.

    I cheered for you when you decided to go TV-free. I enthusiastically applauded your Blogger Body Calendar photo shoot. I tentatively supported you when you decided to try to get up early every morning.

    But this?

    This I can’t support. This is madness, lady. Simply madness.

  16. See, it’s time to break out the New england tricks to keep a house cool. Keep your house darkish, as dark as you can stand it without needing lights, all day unless it’s dark and rainy. This means covering your windows during the full sun of the day. Once the sun goes down, open it all up and let the evening breeze in, granted in VA that breeze is kind of warm, but if you vent your fans outside the cool air moving in your house makes it feel better.

  17. We did that the first here we lived in Richmond. We were getting along just fine until one day the ceiling started to fall down in the kitchen. We called the plumber thinking we had a leak in the bathroom plumbing directly over the kitchen. He said the plumbing was fine but we had too much humidity in the house and should turn on the AC like everyone else.

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