Author Topic: "It's So Hot, Waah!" [Heat Adaptation and Low A/C Bills in Texas This Summer]  (Read 3508 times)

Bayou Dweller

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Welcome to the "It's So Hot, Waah!" Thread - Houston Edition


This is something I get a lot of shit for from friends, family, and co-workers so I figured this was a great topic of this forum of people who actually 'get it'. The topic of the weather is a natural thing for Any Human Ever to talk about. So beginning in May and ending in November here in Texas, it's typical to hear people subtly complaining about the weather quite frequently with, "it's so hot outside".

I wanted to bring up two important topics that I think embodies the Mustiachian Way quite well: First is Heat Adapting and the second, which is an effect of the first, is Low A/C Bills.

Heat Adaption

I can't find the article on it exactly in case someone wants to read further... but essentially your body, when exposed to the elements for a decent amount of time (a few days usually), begins to adapt to it's surroundings ever-so-slightly. This works for both hot and cold, but because "It's So Hot, Waah!" here in Houston (and most of the US) right now I thought we could talk about this.

Now, I work in an office environment 5 days a week, so I didn't think this experiment would work. But it did! And I think the key for me getting it to work was commuting by bicycle to work (35 minutes each way). As soon as I began biking, even 2-3 times a week only, I began to notice that I could stand much higher temperatures than many others around me.

Once I did that, I began by turning my A/C UP as high as I could tolerate it. We turned it completely off while we're gone at work and our house gets up to around 86F (30C). When I get home I usually turn it anywhere between 80 and 85, depending on what room of the house we're in, if we're cooking, and what we're doing. When we first began we were doing 79 to 80 and that was difficult and slightly uncomfortable.

Now we're sleeping with it at 83 pretty consistently! I consider this a huge win because this makes me less dependent upon A/C to be able to function in my every day life. Many people refrain from doing absolutely anything when it's hotter than, say, 80F (26C) out. Now there's no excuses and I can carry on with my life, which is great!

The downside is that I'm now perpetually FREEZING at my office for most of the day. But I planned way ahead and I have a sweater I keep at work just for that reason. When visiting family or friends, we take note of how low their AC is just for for - the lowest we saw was an astounding 68F!! (20C).

Another thing to mention about the area I live in is the humidity. Really 80s and 90s aren't all that bad, but when the humidity is 80 to 100%, it makes the air thick. So after doing some reading, not only are we heat adapting but it appears we may be adapting a bit to the humidity, which is sweet, too!

I should emphasize here that I pay close attention to my hydration, I dress appropriately, and I stay in shaded areas when I can - I'm not reckless when it comes to getting sunburned.

A/C Usage
Average temperatures in Houston, TX, thanks to Wikipedia:


I never tend to think about the money first when making these decisions, but something I have noticed is that our electricity usage compared to last month is down quite a bit. I'm still not to $20 A/C bills like Triple M, but we're looking at a $60 bill here in July. It was $73 last month, which we considered our "transition" month. Previous years prices were $90-110. This is for a house built in 1935 that is terribly insulated, single pane windows, and is maybe 800 to 850 sq ft. Maybe a little more if you count the upstairs area. If we can drop that even lower, then I'll be happy. If not, I'm content with how things are going so far.

Saving potentially $30 to $40 a month is a sweet benefit to living a little more difficultly. I also subsequently am saving more by not utilizing my car nearly as much.

The Biggest Benefits of All

So far, the biggest benefit of all is knowing that I can live without the AC. Something I do is to think about my ancestors that lived here in the South or the Caddos or Karankawa's (and other various Native American tribes of this area). None of them had AC, except the AC that's built into our bodies: sweat.

And that just makes us that much more appreciative of being in the AC when we are. Whether you call it Mustachian or Stoic, I think that by not focusing on the money and instead using this as a lesson in voluntary discomfort, makes decisions like these all the easier.

The last benefit is decreasing our consumption of electricity. I'm a closet environmentalist so this appeals greatly to me. To be fair, our electricity is already 100% solar, but I'd like to bet there's still some environmental impact of using less - and if there isn't then it's still a mental shift and win for us.

In conclusion (TLDR)
We went from heavy AC reliant people to heat and humidity adapted folks. And while we are saving some money in the end, the physical and mental strength gained far outweighs all of that.

This experiment fit perfectly into my mantra of "Spend Less, Live More". Spending less on electricity. Spending less time indoors. And spending more time doing whatever it is I please, with no limiting factors because of the heat.

My next experiment is not using my dryer. The first test went quite well!

dcheesi

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Noticing this in reverse this year. The thermostat at my place is set the same way as last year (77), but this year I've been spending more and more time at my gf's house. She keeps her thermostat at a "normal" temperature (72), though it's usually a bit warmer upstairs.

Now every time I'm at home for more than 5-10 minutes, I start to feel unbearably warm! Definitely don't remember that from last year. The thermometer still reads the same, and I even resorted to running the fan constantly to keep the air evenly circulated, but I still can hardly stand it sometimes.

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Nice job. I'm just not willing to toughen up that much in the summer. I keep my a/c at 75 during the day and 71 at night. I don't like the heat at all. I do keep my thermostat set lower than most (65) during the winter though, so I think my energy use is relatively balanced throughout the year. I turn off the HVAC as much as I can during the transitional months. I'm guessing you don't have much use for a heater in Houston though...

terran

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Well done, that's badass. We're in a neighboring state with rather cooler temps (most of the highs have been low 90s so far).

I suspect we may be "stealing" from the upstairs neighbor, but no A/C so far with internal temps in the high 70s, except when we have to turn on the oven and it goes to low-mid 80s. I open things up and get fans in the windows in the early morning when the lows are in the low 70s (not quite as frequent in the last few weeks).

Edit: we kept the heat at 60 all winter. Still felt warmer than the 68 we kept the drafty house in the Northeast at. Window/wall temp being higher thanks to higher outside temps makes a big difference.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2018, 12:25:28 PM by terran »

Slee_stack

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Were a pretty constant 79 setting on the t-stat throughout the Summer.

I exercise outdoors in the mid 90s with high humidity because the alternative is not being able to do anything active outside for most of the Summer!

I guess I've acclimated to 'hot', but it still sucks a bunch of fun out of the activity.

Our AC bill isn't a terribly high expense.  Moving it up to 83, 85 doesn't seem worth the $10/mo that might save us.

FireHiker

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I'm impressed; I absolutely HATE the heat and run my AC at 72 which is particularly indulgent. Disclaimer: we have fully paid for solar and haven't had an electric bill in 3 years. I used to keep it around 76 before solar even though it was warmer than I liked. I have lived without AC and never could manage to sleep at night when the house was 86. I'm trying to acclimate to heat since I'm an avid hiker and I've taken up running/just getting into trail running. I even do hot yoga. I find in the office, though, if the temperature creeps above 76 I just get sleepy and unmotivated.

I do go the other way in the winter though and have comfortably adapted down to 57. So, I can live without heat, because that's as cold as it ever gets in the house.

Cassie

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For a lot of my life we had no A/C. It never seemed that bad but I was young.  However, at 64 I can tolerate cold way better then heat.  Heat actually makes me sick.  Don't be surprised if some people don't come over in summer.   

beekayworld

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I was reading a "cold exposure for longevity" forum.  I had my door and windows open to 60-ish degree temperatures all day all winter and felt fabulous; wore short sleeves both at home and when I went out.

So the forum had lots of posts about cooling vests (to buy or make) and I ordered one, thinking this summer I could use it to keep cool and not run my under-performing little floor ACs.  It would be more efficient to just cool my body instead of my environment.

(Last summer was my first summer in Southern California and nobody's house here is air conditioned. I moved from Dallas where it would be very rare NOT to have AC. I was acclimated to precise indoor temperatures.)

The funny thing is that it's been in the 80's several days but I haven't been bothered enough to set up the cooling vest.  I have become acclimated to the heat!

I had started out wanting to challenge my fat deposits through cold exposure to actually becoming happy in the cold....and somehow as the days gradually warmed I adapted to the rising temperatures as well. 

beekayworld

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My next experiment is not using my dryer. The first test went quite well!

On the one hand I'm thinking drying them indoors might lower the temperature because I've seen set-ups to put bowls of ice in front of a fan that purport to cool the air as the ice evaporates.

On the other hand, turning the water to steam will raise the humidity.

Are you going to dry indoors or out?

Bayou Dweller

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Were a pretty constant 79 setting on the t-stat throughout the Summer.

I exercise outdoors in the mid 90s with high humidity because the alternative is not being able to do anything active outside for most of the Summer!

I guess I've acclimated to 'hot', but it still sucks a bunch of fun out of the activity.

Our AC bill isn't a terribly high expense.  Moving it up to 83, 85 doesn't seem worth the $10/mo that might save us.

Very true - at that point the monetary gains are marginal at best. I'm mostly interested in pushing the limits to see what I can withstand, but 79 is still pretty darn good! So good on you :)

Nice job. I'm just not willing to toughen up that much in the summer. I keep my a/c at 75 during the day and 71 at night. I don't like the heat at all. I do keep my thermostat set lower than most (65) during the winter though, so I think my energy use is relatively balanced throughout the year. I turn off the HVAC as much as I can during the transitional months. I'm guessing you don't have much use for a heater in Houston though...

We joke that we either 1. only have two seasons: scorching hot or windy, humid cold with ice, and 2. we have all 4 seasons but in 1 day (pretty frequently).

But yeah it's not as bad as most places, but I think your body adapts decently to the cold too. And I enjoy the cold a lot because I can just layer a bit and be fine. I find the cold really invigorating. This past winter we had our heater set in the mid to high 50s. But we began the cold season at the high 60s. Again, it didn't save us a ton of money, but the mental toughness and stoic gains were there.

I'm impressed; I absolutely HATE the heat and run my AC at 72 which is particularly indulgent. Disclaimer: we have fully paid for solar and haven't had an electric bill in 3 years. I used to keep it around 76 before solar even though it was warmer than I liked. I have lived without AC and never could manage to sleep at night when the house was 86. I'm trying to acclimate to heat since I'm an avid hiker and I've taken up running/just getting into trail running. I even do hot yoga. I find in the office, though, if the temperature creeps above 76 I just get sleepy and unmotivated.

I do go the other way in the winter though and have comfortably adapted down to 57. So, I can live without heat, because that's as cold as it ever gets in the house.

Right on! That's on my list of things to have one day along with an Off The Grid House That's Not Off The Grid technically. Interesting that a lot of people are saying they are more Badass when it comes to the cold. I guess I'll have to make another post in December.

Don't be surprised if some people don't come over in summer.   

Haha! I never thought of it like this. We naturally turn the AC down when more people are in the house due to the extra body heat (and usually we're cooking something). We also have these amazing things called fans!

I moved from Dallas where it would be very rare NOT to have AC. I was acclimated to precise indoor temperatures.)

The funny thing is that it's been in the 80's several days but I haven't been bothered enough to set up the cooling vest.  I have become acclimated to the heat!

Woohoo! That's awesome - great work!



Are you going to dry indoors or out?

Currently indoors, next to an open window, with an overhead fan and a floor fan going. I'm a little paranoid about the moisture and humidity creating mold. After Harvey I want nothing to do with anything moldy.

GuitarStv

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Is it mostly dry in Texas?

Dry heat is much more tolerable than sticky, humid heat.  My experience is that 28 C (83 F) is perfectly fine if it's dry outside, but at 90% humidity it's pretty miserable.

Bayou Dweller

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Is it mostly dry in Texas?

Dry heat is much more tolerable than sticky, humid heat.  My experience is that 28 C (83 F) is perfectly fine if it's dry outside, but at 90% humidity it's pretty miserable.

Depends on where you are. I'm in Houston, which is right along the coast. It's frequently above 80% humidity here. Days when it's below 50% humidity I feel super human, haha.

I woke up this morning with my home being an ambient 83F. Felt great. Began my bike to work when it was 79F outside w/ 75% humidity. Immediately felt like it was 85F+.

OtherJen

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Is it mostly dry in Texas?

Dry heat is much more tolerable than sticky, humid heat.  My experience is that 28 C (83 F) is perfectly fine if it's dry outside, but at 90% humidity it's pretty miserable.

Depends on where you are. I'm in Houston, which is right along the coast. It's frequently above 80% humidity here. Days when it's below 50% humidity I feel super human, haha.

I woke up this morning with my home being an ambient 83F. Felt great. Began my bike to work when it was 79F outside w/ 75% humidity. Immediately felt like it was 85F+.

It sounds like Michigan, except 10-15F hotter on average. Dry heat (heat = 85F or higher) is great. High humidity with cool temperatures is fine. Heat + humidity = misery. We try not to run our window AC units but when it's 90+ degrees and 75% humidity (most of July this year), the units are flipped on and set to 78F so that the pets don't melt.

Roots&Wings

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So glad to see this! Hello from a fellow hot/humid dweller :) Last year I didn't use AC at all during day (occasionally house would get up to 89 inside), and unfortunately found a bit of surface mold on wood furniture. So this year, it's set at 84 during day, and 78 at night, but you've inspired me to try to bump that up a degree at night to 79.

For the indoor clothes drying, do you have a drying rack? A few low cost supplies will help there, I've been doing that for the past couple years (though anymore I do cheat with sheets and throw them in the dryer).

Way to go, it's great to see some forum badassity!

Bayou Dweller

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So glad to see this! Hello from a fellow hot/humid dweller :) Last year I didn't use AC at all during day (occasionally house would get up to 89 inside), and unfortunately found a bit of surface mold on wood furniture. So this year, it's set at 84 during day, and 78 at night, but you've inspired me to try to bump that up a degree at night to 79.

For the indoor clothes drying, do you have a drying rack? A few low cost supplies will help there, I've been doing that for the past couple years (though anymore I do cheat with sheets and throw them in the dryer).

Way to go, it's great to see some forum badassity!

Woohoo! Mold is a definite concern with all of the humidity. I don't know how people dealt with it before AC, hmm..

Yeah I have a medium sized wooden rack I got for free from my grandparents. It is really nice, but I have to do much smaller loads of laundry.

FindingFI

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I had no idea that head adaptation was a real thing!  Being from the northeast we get everything from 0F to 100F, but I always wondered why 60F in fall was time for long pants and sweatshirt when 60F in summer was shorts and flip flops or bust!

We don't get the prolonged high heat of some areas, but we have managed to not install the window AC for two years now, not even through the recent week+ heat wave. (Usually 3 days over 90F and people start losing their shit around here.)  Friends and family think we are insane, but opening the windows at night to let in the cool air and shutting them during the day to lock it in works well enough for us.

beekayworld

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We joke that we either 1. only have two seasons: scorching hot or windy, humid cold with ice, and 2. we have all 4 seasons but in 1 day (pretty frequently).
gains were there.

Yep! Went to college in Houston. Dallas has its own hellish weather. Spring AKA hail and tornado season; scorching hot summer; some nice weather in the fall; then the ice storms hit. No gentle rains or soft snowfalls. Everything's so damn severe! Torrential thunderstorms with flooding or massive snows that take out the power lines.


Currently indoors, next to an open window, with an overhead fan and a floor fan going. I'm a little paranoid about the moisture and humidity creating mold. After Harvey I want nothing to do with anything moldy.

I do not blame you!

nnls

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I need to try this for the cold, I very rarely use my aircon in summer (unless it is above 40 (104F)) but in winter I am always cold. I usually just try and wear extra layers before I put my heater on but I find it hard to get comfortable.

It also doesn't even get that cold where I live so it should be easier to acclimatise   

Roots&Wings

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79 at night accomplished. I'll do that for another week, then go for 80.

Yeah, I find the reverse for cold. Being acclimated to heat, I feel absolutely freezing at 65 F (18 C) or below. Have to work on that too!

Bayou Dweller

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I need to try this for the cold, I very rarely use my aircon in summer (unless it is above 40 (104F)) but in winter I am always cold. I usually just try and wear extra layers before I put my heater on but I find it hard to get comfortable.

It also doesn't even get that cold where I live so it should be easier to acclimatise   

79 at night accomplished. I'll do that for another week, then go for 80.

Yeah, I find the reverse for cold. Being acclimated to heat, I feel absolutely freezing at 65 F (18 C) or below. Have to work on that too!

Good work!

Both of y'all should look into cold showers. They're generally a joke in the summer in Texas since my ground water is pretty warm. However, taking a cold shower in the winter is legit and will definitely acclimate you VERY quickly.

It's actually quite awesome. I'll take a cold shower at night, dry off really well, and I feel so warm like the heat is radiating from me. Toss on a pair of socks and briefs and go to bed. That's what I was doing when we were keeping the thermostat below 60F in the winter.

nnls

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I need to try this for the cold, I very rarely use my aircon in summer (unless it is above 40 (104F)) but in winter I am always cold. I usually just try and wear extra layers before I put my heater on but I find it hard to get comfortable.

It also doesn't even get that cold where I live so it should be easier to acclimatise   

79 at night accomplished. I'll do that for another week, then go for 80.

Yeah, I find the reverse for cold. Being acclimated to heat, I feel absolutely freezing at 65 F (18 C) or below. Have to work on that too!

Good work!

Both of y'all should look into cold showers. They're generally a joke in the summer in Texas since my ground water is pretty warm. However, taking a cold shower in the winter is legit and will definitely acclimate you VERY quickly.

It's actually quite awesome. I'll take a cold shower at night, dry off really well, and I feel so warm like the heat is radiating from me. Toss on a pair of socks and briefs and go to bed. That's what I was doing when we were keeping the thermostat below 60F in the winter.

I cant even cope with cold showers in summer! but will maybe try it, its still winter now and got to about 10c (50F) overnight and I was freezing so I should be brave

Bayou Dweller

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I need to try this for the cold, I very rarely use my aircon in summer (unless it is above 40 (104F)) but in winter I am always cold. I usually just try and wear extra layers before I put my heater on but I find it hard to get comfortable.

It also doesn't even get that cold where I live so it should be easier to acclimatise   

79 at night accomplished. I'll do that for another week, then go for 80.

Yeah, I find the reverse for cold. Being acclimated to heat, I feel absolutely freezing at 65 F (18 C) or below. Have to work on that too!

Good work!

Both of y'all should look into cold showers. They're generally a joke in the summer in Texas since my ground water is pretty warm. However, taking a cold shower in the winter is legit and will definitely acclimate you VERY quickly.

It's actually quite awesome. I'll take a cold shower at night, dry off really well, and I feel so warm like the heat is radiating from me. Toss on a pair of socks and briefs and go to bed. That's what I was doing when we were keeping the thermostat below 60F in the winter.

I cant even cope with cold showers in summer! but will maybe try it, its still winter now and got to about 10c (50F) overnight and I was freezing so I should be brave

Haha! Well. To be fair they aren't easy at first! The thing is, all this shit we're talking about whether it's heat or cold.. it all sucks for a few minutes and then you just carry on. That's kind of the beauty in all this.

My biggest thing I want to avoid is becoming a climaphobe. Racing from one AC building or heated car to the next. Are we, right now, simultaneously the smartest yet weakest the human species has ever been?

nnls

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Haha! Well. To be fair they aren't easy at first! The thing is, all this shit we're talking about whether it's heat or cold.. it all sucks for a few minutes and then you just carry on. That's kind of the beauty in all this.

My biggest thing I want to avoid is becoming a climaphobe. Racing from one AC building or heated car to the next. Are we, right now, simultaneously the smartest yet weakest the human species has ever been?

I am a bit like that in winter, i have a big jacket on and am happy to be inside, and being in Western Australia its not even ever properly cold. Summer though I try to avoid the aircon and absob the heat.

I dont know if people were fine with the extreme temperatures in the past, they just didnt have any other choice

lhamo

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I used to do this in Beijing, which is hot and humid in the summers, and cold and dry in the winters.

I got so I was comfortable with the house at 30 C (86F) during the day in the summer.  And I could sleep with the bedroom only cooled to 28 C (82 F) at night.

In the winter, we would only heat the house to 16-18C (60-64 F).

Now that we are back in Seattle, we have been able to keep the winter temps at 64 (I get cold at lower than that due to the dampness).  We had a mini heat wave recently but due to orientation/trees surrounding us our house doesn't get that hot and seems to cool down pretty well at night -- we get a breeze off Lake Washington which helps.  I had a bit of trouble sleeping the last couple of nights when it was pushing 80 at night, though.  I'm glad I dont live in a hot climate any more.

Roadrunner53

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Wow, I could never tolerate such high temps and sleeping in a hot room is not for me. We keep the AC cranking at 72 and if it were up to me I would have it cooler. The Hub says the unit will freeze up if we lower it any more. I also have a fan directed at the bed to make it feel even colder. I love it! AC is my one luxury and I am never giving it up!

Bayou Dweller

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I used to do this in Beijing, which is hot and humid in the summers, and cold and dry in the winters.

I got so I was comfortable with the house at 30 C (86F) during the day in the summer.  And I could sleep with the bedroom only cooled to 28 C (82 F) at night.

In the winter, we would only heat the house to 16-18C (60-64 F).

Now that we are back in Seattle, we have been able to keep the winter temps at 64 (I get cold at lower than that due to the dampness).  We had a mini heat wave recently but due to orientation/trees surrounding us our house doesn't get that hot and seems to cool down pretty well at night -- we get a breeze off Lake Washington which helps.  I had a bit of trouble sleeping the last couple of nights when it was pushing 80 at night, though.  I'm glad I dont live in a hot climate any more.

Now that's pretty Badass! We've definitely toyed with moving to a cooler climate and may do so in the future. But for now we've got to deal with what we've got it seems.

Wow, I could never tolerate such high temps and sleeping in a hot room is not for me. We keep the AC cranking at 72 and if it were up to me I would have it cooler. The Hub says the unit will freeze up if we lower it any more. I also have a fan directed at the bed to make it feel even colder. I love it! AC is my one luxury and I am never giving it up!

I bet you could indeed tolerate higher temps if you acclimated to them! Trust me though when I say... no one really likes the heat and humidity. And to be fair I'm definitely not giving up AC anytime either, at least not completely.

Side note: Today's high in Houston is 102F (39C) for my bike commute home & to the grocery store. :)

Roadrunner53

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I used to do this in Beijing, which is hot and humid in the summers, and cold and dry in the winters.

I got so I was comfortable with the house at 30 C (86F) during the day in the summer.  And I could sleep with the bedroom only cooled to 28 C (82 F) at night.

In the winter, we would only heat the house to 16-18C (60-64 F).

Now that we are back in Seattle, we have been able to keep the winter temps at 64 (I get cold at lower than that due to the dampness).  We had a mini heat wave recently but due to orientation/trees surrounding us our house doesn't get that hot and seems to cool down pretty well at night -- we get a breeze off Lake Washington which helps.  I had a bit of trouble sleeping the last couple of nights when it was pushing 80 at night, though.  I'm glad I dont live in a hot climate any more.

Now that's pretty Badass! We've definitely toyed with moving to a cooler climate and may do so in the future. But for now we've got to deal with what we've got it seems.

Wow, I could never tolerate such high temps and sleeping in a hot room is not for me. We keep the AC cranking at 72 and if it were up to me I would have it cooler. The Hub says the unit will freeze up if we lower it any more. I also have a fan directed at the bed to make it feel even colder. I love it! AC is my one luxury and I am never giving it up!

I bet you could indeed tolerate higher temps if you acclimated to them! Trust me though when I say... no one really likes the heat and humidity. And to be fair I'm definitely not giving up AC anytime either, at least not completely.

Side note: Today's high in Houston is 102F (39C) for my bike commute home & to the grocery store. :)

Let's put it this way, I might be able to acclimate but not going to not now, not ever! I want ice cubes flowing out of my ac! We almost never eat out, never go to movies and have not been on vacation since 2004 so this is my one luxury that I will take to the grave with me! I wonder if I can get an ac unit installed in my casket?  LOL! I will have a thermostat installed in it for heat and ac!

Slee_stack

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Another consideration is a person's physiology.

Some people sweat more than others.  Some people also get...more stinky than others.

Depending on if/who one has to interact with...the temperatures inside your home...and outside when you are being active (commuting) may dictate extra steps.

I've always been a heavy sweat-er.  I've actually been appreciative of that because I think I can last longer outside because of it.  Thankfully I don't get too stinky, but looking like a wet mess doesn't always go over well either.

I would not be able to ride my bike certain distances at certain temps without arriving pretty sweaty.  Do I have a shower available?  Do I have the time to shower?

Same indoors...  What level of general activity will make one start to sweat?

Sure I can tolerate more heat than say... 20 years ago.  But one thing that has never changed for me is what conditions/activity prompt me to sweat.

Just presuming 'mind over matter' doesn't work for this.


As an aside, when I am driving, I tend to not use my car AC until 90F.  I really like cars that have vented seats when its in the 80s so my back doesn't get sweaty...

(Unfortunately I have a 28mi commute, so biking doesn't make sense for a normal workday.)
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 09:25:46 AM by Slee_stack »

DreamFIRE

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For about 10 years, I ran my AC the bare minimum - my house would be in the mid to upper 80's through the afternoon.  I might run the AC to cool it just a few degrees and open a window in the evening as it cooled off outside.  The problem is that the heat would make me want to sit in front of fan wearing only a pair of shorts.  So I started running the AC more regularly, and I will cool the house down to about 82 in the afternoon.  I prefer 80 in the bedroom with a fan blowing on me.  If the temp is much above that, I have trouble sleeping.

YoungGranny

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Hello from someone who does the same thing! When I started reading your post and it said your house gets to 86 degrees during the day my initial thought was "Well that's not bad at all!". I live in the great state of Michigan - I only run my A/C around one week per year when we get our week of weather in that pushes 100 degrees with the heat index. Outside of that I open my windows at night and close up during the day. As long as my thermostat reads 90 or under we don't turn the air on; 86 feels quite comfortable to me now. It's been cooling off at night and when I woke up to a 70 degree house it felt so cold! I'd say I don't know how people do it but in the winter my house sits at a comfy 64 degrees. I agree that riding my bike and pushing myself to adapt helps; it's amazing what our bodies are capable of!

Bayou Dweller

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Hello from someone who does the same thing! When I started reading your post and it said your house gets to 86 degrees during the day my initial thought was "Well that's not bad at all!". I live in the great state of Michigan - I only run my A/C around one week per year when we get our week of weather in that pushes 100 degrees with the heat index. Outside of that I open my windows at night and close up during the day. As long as my thermostat reads 90 or under we don't turn the air on; 86 feels quite comfortable to me now. It's been cooling off at night and when I woke up to a 70 degree house it felt so cold! I'd say I don't know how people do it but in the winter my house sits at a comfy 64 degrees. I agree that riding my bike and pushing myself to adapt helps; it's amazing what our bodies are capable of!

That's great to hear and thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like biking is a strikingly common theme around this topic.


Another consideration is a person's physiology.

Some people sweat more than others.  Some people also get...more stinky than others.

(Unfortunately I have a 28mi commute, so biking doesn't make sense for a normal workday.)

No doubt. I am a bit of a sweater myself. Fortunately I don't smell terrible afterwards though, like yourself. Thank you for sharing your perspective (and to others who did as well and even didn't agree).

The glaring thing here is.... 28 mile commute?! I'm at 6 and I think that's ridiculous already. If you're really interested in the topic of happiness, which I know you are since you're a human, check out the book Happy City. MMM has recommended it as well.

Slee_stack

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DW has a sub 2mi commute.  Any relief for me would be at her expense.  Our house is in a pretty good place right now.  Not worth a move.

Being in OMY mode, another job for me doesn't make much sense either.

Its an inconvenience, but not likely a long term one.  The money still makes it worthwhile.

I finally got 1 day a week WFH.  Seeing what I can do to increase that.

I really can't complain.  I can (and do) ride my bike for fun at other times.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 02:04:12 PM by Slee_stack »

cooking

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Sometime around the mid 2000's or so, some universities, mostly from the DC area, used to hold an annual "solar decathalon" on the Washington Mall.  I don't know if this is still going on, but I haven't heard anything about it for probably the last decade.

It was basically a competition by the architecture, science, engineering, etc. departments of each participating school to collaborate on small houses that were very efficient to run and maintain, and which they built prototypes of on site to be judged.  One year one of the schools (seems like it might have been Univ. of MD or DE) had a house featuring a "dessicant waterfall" to cool it w/o air conditioning.  IIRC, the waterfall was made of something like the little packets that are packed into various objects like pills to remove moisture.  Idea being, if you can decrease the humidity in a high humidity region like the mid-atlantic, you'll feel a lot cooler and decrease the necessity of A/C.

The article said that the particular university involved was developing the dessicant waterfall concept to commercially market in the near future.  I kept an ear open for years to see when that would happen, as it's something that would be useful in a climate like NJ, where I live.  Alas, nothing heard about them since then.  I tried googling a couple times, but it kept returning me to the decathalon from that time period.

Maybe the professor who was leading the effort lost grants, retired, whatever; maybe there were still problems that were impossible to surmount.  But I still think of it in times of high humidity and wonder what happened.  Has anyone else out there heard of this, does anyone have a clue as to why the idea seems to have disappeared?

onlykelsey

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With respect to your concern about working in an office environment, when I was living in Austin on a grad student salary, I would wear sweaters and even long pants around campus.  I find that it helped keep my body from acclimating to the ridiculous 69 degrees that public buildings seem to be set to.

Now in humid but not that hot NYC, we keep the A/C at 79-80.  We did 81 pre-baby, but the baby has no a/c in his room, so it needs to be 79 near thermostat for baby to stay cool.

expatartist

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Another consideration is a person's physiology.

Some people sweat more than others.  Some people also get...more stinky than others.

Depending on if/who one has to interact with...the temperatures inside your home...and outside when you are being active (commuting) may dictate extra steps.

Something to consider, especially when socializing / at work.

I live in Hong Kong where temperatures and humidity are similar to Florida: hot and extremely humid 8 months/year. At work, in public spaces and transportation the AC's typically blasting. Going between two extremes daily requires a lot of layering of natural and light fibers, I like secondhand clothes made of cotton/silk blends, cashmere/silk, or linen knits which are cooler and more discreetly absorbent than cotton. For me sweat mitigation is paramount. East Asians sweat less than westerners, sweat scent varies depending on diet and other factors, and  East Asians don't like perfumes. So I wash clothes every time I wear them, wash hair every morning before work, shower twice or three times/day and am generally more fastidious than I'd have to be in the west.

Before leaving for work I close heavy linen curtains to minimize sunlight. Returning home in the evening I open all windows in my 12/F apartment to cool it off and usually get a harbor breeze. Our vintage building was made with natural aircon: air comes down from the open rooftops and by design turns our corridors into wind tunnels. At night I keep windows closed due to street noise and always have a fan going, but generally manage not to use AC more than twice/week unless we're in an extended heatwave where it can't escape from our building. This year I invested in a Sasawashi lower sheet for my bed made of washi paper and Japanese plant fibers, which has helped keep me cooler than ever before. It's designed for people who sweat heavily and is naturally antibacterial. Love it.

Our homes aren't heated but it can get relatively chilly from December-Feb. In Minneapolis I learned to layer tights under trousers and boots for winter wear. I'll occasionally use a tiny space heater in my small flat when it gets really cold (cold for HK). Eating heavier foods helps me put on a couple pounds which come off every summer. Mostly I vary my diet and clothing choices to the seasons, and this helps me avoid having to use unnatural climate control at home. Though electricity's cheap where I live I prefer to stay in tune with the weather rather than avoid it.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 12:14:41 AM by expatartist »

SunnyDays

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Since you say you're an environmentalist and that your home is barely insulated, why don't you work on that with your savings from lower AC?  Then maybe you wouldn't need any?  Where I live (Canada), we have hot and humid summers and frigid winters.  My house is insulated to the gills with triple pane, gas-filled windows and if kept closed up on hot days, stays around 25C.  Even cooler in the basement if some urgent relief is needed.  Sometimes I do put on the air, depending on what I'm doing, but the summers are so short here, that I want to be hot.

Cranky

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So glad to see this! Hello from a fellow hot/humid dweller :) Last year I didn't use AC at all during day (occasionally house would get up to 89 inside), and unfortunately found a bit of surface mold on wood furniture. So this year, it's set at 84 during day, and 78 at night, but you've inspired me to try to bump that up a degree at night to 79.

For the indoor clothes drying, do you have a drying rack? A few low cost supplies will help there, I've been doing that for the past couple years (though anymore I do cheat with sheets and throw them in the dryer).

Way to go, it's great to see some forum badassity!

Woohoo! Mold is a definite concern with all of the humidity. I don't know how people dealt with it before AC, hmm..

Yeah I have a medium sized wooden rack I got for free from my grandparents. It is really nice, but I have to do much smaller loads of laundry.

I grew up in central Florida before anything was air conditioned, and I lived in Miami, without a/c, when me kids were small.

Honestly, nothing got moldy except the shower, which needed regular scrubbing with bleach, but I've had to do that up north, too. If you left wet towels in a pile they got yucky, but the easy solution was to not do that.  We didn't have a dryer when I was growing up, so everything got hung outside, and it was fine.

But houses were built for that! We had cement block construction, no drywall, and the windows were set up for a cross breeze, and we ate out on the porch in the summer.

It's much harder to acclimate when you go in and out of the a/c.

cooking

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Re the mold: I used to live in the now defunct Panama Canal Zone.  About 9 months of rainy season a yr.  Most homes used room A/C, no central since it was all rental gov't. housing built shortly after the turn of the 20th century.  The A/C didn't really reach the inside of the closets, even w/louvered doors on them.  Belts, shoes, anything made of leather would grow mold in a relatively short time.  The closets were equipped with lights (non-overhead), not to illuminate the closet but to mitigate the mold growth.  This was back in days before there were light bulbs that didn't emit heat.  So it was actually heat from the light bulbs that were supposed to keep the mold from growing.  Ridiculously inefficient, the heat working against the A/C.  But it was all we had available to do the job at that time.

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Though electricity's cheap where I live I prefer to stay in tune with the weather rather than avoid it.
Nailed it! And that sounds like you've got this down pat. Good stuff.

Has anyone else out there heard of this, does anyone have a clue as to why the idea seems to have disappeared?

Never heard of that, but that is neat. From an energy savings standpoint that might be a potential solution, but it's still attempting to create a comfort/convenience.

Since you say you're an environmentalist and that your home is barely insulated, why don't you work on that with your savings from lower AC?  Then maybe you wouldn't need any?  Where I live (Canada), we have hot and humid summers and frigid winters.  My house is insulated to the gills with triple pane, gas-filled windows and if kept closed up on hot days, stays around 25C.  Even cooler in the basement if some urgent relief is needed.  Sometimes I do put on the air, depending on what I'm doing, but the summers are so short here, that I want to be hot.

I rent my home or that would be the first thing I'd do, of course. Adapting to the heat and a really well insulated house are the top 2 most efficient manners of dealing with heat and cold, no doubt.

I grew up in central Florida before anything was air conditioned, and I lived in Miami, without a/c, when me kids were small.

Honestly, nothing got moldy except the shower, which needed regular scrubbing with bleach, but I've had to do that up north, too. If you left wet towels in a pile they got yucky, but the easy solution was to not do that.  We didn't have a dryer when I was growing up, so everything got hung outside, and it was fine.

But houses were built for that! We had cement block construction, no drywall, and the windows were set up for a cross breeze, and we ate out on the porch in the summer.

It's much harder to acclimate when you go in and out of the a/c.

Thank you for sharing that. It's a fresh reminder that I don't need to think back to tribal times in order to realize that no A/C was very common until recent times. My Dad's side grew up in FL as well and shared a similar story with me recently, however it didn't sound like his house was built for all that fancy stuff like cross-breezes and a big patio for eating - which is unfortunate.




beekayworld

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.... "dessicant waterfall" to cool it w/o air conditioning.  IIRC, the waterfall was made of something like the little packets that are packed into various objects like pills to remove moisture.  Idea being, if you can decrease the humidity in a high humidity region like the mid-atlantic, you'll feel a lot cooler and decrease the necessity of A/C.


I did a search for "desiccant dehumidifier" and found several for sale and a little bit about how they work. It sounds like the method used in the "desiccant waterfall". From https://cleanfax.com/restoration/how-desiccant-dehumidifiers-work-part-i/ :

A desiccant wheel with a grid of small air passages, similar to a large bundle of coffee straws, is impregnated with silica gel (the same silica that is used in the packets that keep shoes dry). The desiccant wheel rotates slowly through the different airflow zones of the desiccant, as it works to remove moisture.

beekayworld

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Has anyone else out there heard of this, does anyone have a clue as to why the idea seems to have disappeared?

Never heard of that, but that is neat. From an energy savings standpoint that might be a potential solution, but it's still attempting to create a comfort/convenience.

It won't work in Houston anyway. From the same article I quoted above: Portable desiccant dehumidifiers work best in cool and/or dry environments.  Ha! That's not Houston. Good thing you prefer to adapt to the environment.

GrumpyPenguin

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I have something called hyperhidrosis. Just sitting calm doing nothing in a 74 degree room my hands will sweat bullets making almost any activity that uses them incredibly difficult and unpleasant.  I've heard people tell me to just wipe them when they're sweaty... uh, okay, two seconds later they're just as sweaty again.

cooking

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Quote
I did a search for "desiccant dehumidifier" and found several for sale and a little bit about how they work. It sounds like the method used in the "desiccant waterfall". From https://cleanfax.com/restoration/how-desiccant-dehumidifiers-work-part-i/ :

A desiccant wheel with a grid of small air passages, similar to a large bundle of coffee straws, is impregnated with silica gel (the same silica that is used in the packets that keep shoes dry). The desiccant wheel rotates slowly through the different airflow zones of the desiccant, as it works to remove moisture.





Yeah, doesn't sound like an efficient system for removing humidity in a residence in lieu of A/C in climates like NJ either.  And it generates some heat, if I'm reading it correctly.

I've often thought that if humidity could be removed from our air here on the hottest, most humid days (only really a few weeks of every summer where I am), then we could do away with the expensive to install and run central A/C systems in a lot of our houses.  Yes, it's a comfort issue, but it could also be a money and energy saver if someone could invent the right device to do it efficiently.

I believe it wouldn't be for everyone here, but still there are plenty of people who would like to eliminate that "smack you in the face with a wall of hot air" feeling that you get when you go from an A/C space to the outside.  Helps to keep your A/C set higher, but still can be uncomfortable.

Michael in ABQ

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I've spent the last three weeks in for Army training in CA with no AC. It's been from 95-105+ everyday. I'm currently on the second floor of a WW2 barracks and it is about 93 degrees with little or no airflow. However, it beats walking around in the sun with 50 lbs on my back. Luckily it drops to about 60 at night so I can sleep. I'll be quite happy to return home to my evaporative cooler and a 70-75 degree house.

beekayworld

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I've often thought that if humidity could be removed from our air here on the hottest, most humid days (only really a few weeks of every summer where I am), then we could do away with the expensive to install and run central A/C systems in a lot of our houses.

As much as I am trying to be heat acclimated, we have an excessive heat warning here in the South Bay Los Angeles area this week and I'm on the third floor.  So I broke down and plugged in my two portable AC units. 

One I ran in the bedroom all night the last 2 nights.  During the evening I'm running both in the LR/DR/kitchen open floor plan to bring the temperature down to the 80's.  They also dehumidify and collect water in drip pans.

Those might work for you.  Walmart, Home Depot, QVC, Costco.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0CyLvZsG_I

Roadrunner53

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Life is short, use ac to your tolerance level. My level is 74ish in my home and I have no shame. I love the lack of humidity and the cool temps. I am 65 and no idea how long I will live but for the time being, I am doing ac. No way I am going to boil and be uncomfortable. I saved during my working years and I will use my ac and not be so frugal that I hate every day of my life. My hat off to all of you who can tolerate the heat and humidity but that ain't me!

EricEng

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That's great you can handle that heat.  I can handle 80+ without issue during the day and enjoy it, but impossible to sleep in that.  Not sure how you manage.  I just end up a sweaty, uncomfortable mess laying on the bed with no sheets (I love sleeping with a heavy blanket).  Only way I can sleep in that is passing out, and that's with a few years with no AC in a desert.

HAPPYINAZ

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That's great!  Thanks for sharing your experience with heat adaptation!  My husband is way more heat tolerant that me, and we know people who have no air conditioning or evap cooling that live here in Arizona.  When I visit them I literally have sweat pouring down me while they seem fine!