Author Topic: No A/C  (Read 5248 times)

Bird In Hand

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No A/C
« on: May 28, 2017, 12:53:00 PM »
This might seem kind of silly to some, but this year I'm trying to see how long I can hold out before putting the window A/C unit into my attic (which is also my home office).  We had a warm spell in early May when the attic got to 90 deg or so, and I found that a box fan kept me pretty comfortable.

Here in the northeast US there will come a time this summer when the A/C will be needed to keep excessive heat and humidity at bay.  I'm not going to let the indoor humidity get so high that mold starts growing on the walls, obviously.  Our electricity cost is very high, and running an 500 watt window A/C costs a couple dollars a day.  The box fan costs about 1/10th that to run -- but still the actual dollar savings isn't going to add up to much.  Over ~4 months I might save $100 or so.

The real payoff is in comfort.  That might sound counterintuitive, but stay with me.   What I've noticed is that when the attic is drier and cooler, then I feel uncomfortably hot when I go downstairs.  That makes me more likely to turn on other window A/C units downstairs, which makes the whole house drier and cooler (this, btw, does start to cost quite a bit more.  That makes outdoors feel extremely uncomfortable, so I tend to stay indoors most of the time.  Staying indoors is boring and unhealthy.

Conversely, when the attic is warm (but tolerable with the box fan), then walking downstairs feels as though I'm walking into a cool, air-conditioned space.  Yet the temp/humidity differential between indoors and outdoors is not so great that I can't stand going outside.  It's all about the relative difference.

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2017, 01:09:14 PM »
> Here in the northeast US there will come a time this summer when the A/C will be needed

Need?

People lived here for thousands of years without air conditioning and I bet many of them were happier than most people today.

I live in Manhattan and last summer, I don't think I turned on my air conditioning and my building has central air, so I'm paying for it anyway. I prefer to pollute less and a fan works fine.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2017, 01:36:08 PM »
People lived here for thousands of years without air conditioning and I bet many of them were happier than most people today.

Do you ever use a refrigerator, the subway system in NYC, the internet, or toothpaste?

Seriously man, I'm not going to work in my 110 deg office with high humidity, regardless of who else has suffered under similar circumstances.  Sometimes there's a fine line between badassity and dumbassery.

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I live in Manhattan and last summer, I don't think I turned on my air conditioning and my building has central air, so I'm paying for it anyway. I prefer to pollute less and a fan works fine.

If you live in apartment building with central air, you're benefiting from others' use of A/C -- likely every single neighbor on all sides and above and below you.  Come back to me with some actual temp and RH readings and we can talk.

wrangler05

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2017, 07:33:34 PM »
can you try something between a fan and an A/C like an evaporative cooler?

Aunt Petunia

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2017, 08:07:18 PM »
Wow, I had to put the heat on in May because we had a week of 30-40 degrees.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2017, 09:05:37 PM »
can you try something between a fan and an A/C like an evaporative cooler?

Unfortunately evaporative coolers don't work well in high humidity -- basically the entire eastern half of the US, including where I live.

Today I used my kill-a-watt to find that my box fan draws 40/47/57 watts on low/med/high.  Really not too bad IMO, if it can keep me comfortable enough to avoid the 500 watt A/C on most days.

nnls

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2017, 11:25:51 PM »
You can possibly just put the aircon on for a while to cool the room down and then turn it back off.

Where I work and live in summer, it is regularly above 45 degrees celsius (google tells me this is 113 F) most people at work leave the aircon on in their rooms all day even though they are at work. I usually put mine on from when I get home to when I go to sleep (630-830ish) and then have it off all night and am usually fine, it usually drops to about 30 over night. Summer is also wet season so the humidity can be quite high. 

As I work in an office I don't get much say over aircon use during the day

Villanelle

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2017, 01:02:23 AM »
There's no way I'm even attempting to go without a/c in the hot, humid Japanese summer.  But a dehumidifier draws less power and can help stave off a/c use on some days when it's slightly less hot, but still insanely humid. 

grettman

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2017, 06:20:40 AM »
Seems like a mere fraction in savings for something that will help you enjoy life much much more. If you love being hot then this is a great thing to do but if it takes away joy....is it really worth it?

sokoloff

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2017, 06:44:18 AM »
Our electricity cost is very high, and running an 500 watt window A/C costs a couple dollars a day.
Wow. I thought our electric rates in MA were bad (basically, $0.20/kWh). A constant 500 W load costs me $0.10/hr, but even on the hottest days, our window AC units cycle quite a bit, so are probably only drawing high current half of the time. (I don't trust running them through the Kill-a-watt to test it; maybe I'll rig it up through a toroidal current sensor someday.)

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2017, 07:29:06 AM »
Seems like a mere fraction in savings for something that will help you enjoy life much much more. If you love being hot then this is a great thing to do but if it takes away joy....is it really worth it?

Well as I mentioned above, the attic A/C just makes the rest of the house feel intolerable by comparison, which usually leads to turning on the A/C in other parts of the house.  Then outdoors feels intolerable by comparison, and I end up cooped up indoors.  My point was that a box fan can help avoid this much of the time -- just not on the very hottest and most humid days of summer.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 07:35:41 AM »
Our electricity cost is very high, and running an 500 watt window A/C costs a couple dollars a day.
Wow. I thought our electric rates in MA were bad (basically, $0.20/kWh).

Our rates are similar.  I wasn't accounting for cycling, but the attic unit tends to stay on almost continuously on the really hot days - heat and humidity rise and all that.  "A couple dollars a day" was really back-of-the-envelope.  It's probably closer to $1/day than $2.

HenryDavid

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2017, 11:06:16 AM »
Never had AC.
Lived in a  hot humid place as a kid, put up a tent in the yard and slept there all summer. No TV noise!
Now spend the hot season in southern Europe and use shutters.
They are made out of wood.

surfhb

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2017, 09:30:29 PM »
Wow!   $100 over 4 months?!   Impressive!   


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Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2017, 10:20:49 PM »
Wow!   $100 over 4 months?!   Impressive!   

Lol, the sarcasm is strong with this one.  In case you missed the punchline, I went on to explain how not using the A/C actually results in greater comfort (except in extreme cases), and that was the real payoff.

Optimiser

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2017, 02:47:30 PM »
Seems like a mere fraction in savings for something that will help you enjoy life much much more. If you love being hot then this is a great thing to do but if it takes away joy....is it really worth it?

Well as I mentioned above, the attic A/C just makes the rest of the house feel intolerable by comparison, which usually leads to turning on the A/C in other parts of the house.  Then outdoors feels intolerable by comparison, and I end up cooped up indoors.  My point was that a box fan can help avoid this much of the time -- just not on the very hottest and most humid days of summer.

If the attic feels better than the rest of the house with A/C on, maybe you are overusing the attic A/C. Can't you just set your attic A/C to run at a level that feels the same or maybe slightly less comfortable than the rest of the house? Maybe combine that with the box fan.

This might allow you to keep your energy use lower for the whole summer, rather than at some point abandoning the no A/C experiment and starting to use the attic unit all the time.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2017, 08:51:19 AM »
If the attic feels better than the rest of the house with A/C on, maybe you are overusing the attic A/C. Can't you just set your attic A/C to run at a level that feels the same or maybe slightly less comfortable than the rest of the house? Maybe combine that with the box fan.

This might allow you to keep your energy use lower for the whole summer, rather than at some point abandoning the no A/C experiment and starting to use the attic unit all the time.

You're right.  I presented the issue as all-or-nothing, but those may not be the only options.  Though on a very hot day, the A/C may stay on almost continuously, probably regardless of how high I set the thermostat.  Stronger magic (more BTU) may be required to avoid this, but then the tradeoff is that the compressor might not stay on long enough to dehumidify sufficiently.

wildbeast

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2017, 12:49:41 PM »
I get what you're saying.  I notice that after we got a portable AC unit for the house, I stopped thinking of alternative ways that I could cool down with.  And the thing about AC is that your body gets used to the temp after a while and even a reasonable temp feels too hot.  Plus I get cabin fever and I start to feel like I'm trapped in my house and that I have to stay still to avoid heating myself up.

Before the AC unit, I used to go outside in my bathing suit with a tasty beverage, a beach towel, and something to read.  I would hose myself down and then settle in the shade to enjoy feeling like I was on vacay.  When I got hot, I would just repeat.  Often, I would end up putting in the garden and the time would fly by.  And when I finally came in the house in the evening, the house felt very comfortable.  And I had a feeling of enjoyment of the day, rather than having 'endured' it.

Ironically, we are thinking of putting in central AC right now.  I had forgotten about how much I enjoyed spending time outside on a hot day.  It made me feel young and carefree. 

retiringearly

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2017, 01:15:32 PM »
A/C is one thing I have no problem paying for.  I turn the temperature up during the daytime when I am at work, turn the temp down when I come home.

My condo is on the third floor so I get a pretty good breeze but that isn't enough when it is really hot & humid.

Not sure if this was asked, but why no move your office to a lower floor?  The basement will be cooler.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2017, 02:24:33 PM »
I get what you're saying.  I notice that after we got a portable AC unit for the house, I stopped thinking of alternative ways that I could cool down with.  And the thing about AC is that your body gets used to the temp after a while and even a reasonable temp feels too hot.  Plus I get cabin fever and I start to feel like I'm trapped in my house and that I have to stay still to avoid heating myself up.

Yay, somebody gets it.  :)

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Ironically, we are thinking of putting in central AC right now.  I had forgotten about how much I enjoyed spending time outside on a hot day.  It made me feel young and carefree.

Right!  We didn't have A/C -- central or otherwise -- when I grew up.  I remember going outside to cool down on really hot days.  The breeze helped, and that's also where the sprinkler/kiddie pool were.  We'd also lazily ride our bikes up and down the street (under mature shade trees!) if we needed to generate our own breeze.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2017, 02:30:05 PM »
Not sure if this was asked, but why no move your office to a lower floor?  The basement will be cooler.

I don't think it was asked, but it's an excellent question.  I used to have my office down there, but there were three things I couldn't abide: too much noise from the kids running around right above me; no natural light all day made me feel gloomy; and coming upstairs at the end of the day was brutal because it was so much warmer than the basement.  But there are probably some creative solutions to those problems that I haven't thought of yet!

2Birds1Stone

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2017, 02:41:03 PM »
Haven't had AC at home in nearly 10 years =D

Mac_MacGyver

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2017, 07:14:19 PM »
I turned on my A/C... It's the South and I love next to a big river, the humidity is awful and then add the heat...

FamilyGuy

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2017, 11:26:51 AM »
I don't turn on AC until otherwise required. I manage with fans sometimes with an additional table fan. Don't like the idea of cooling the whole home when all I want is some cold in bed room.

retiringearly

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2017, 02:50:21 PM »
I don't turn on AC until otherwise required. I manage with fans sometimes with an additional table fan. Don't like the idea of cooling the whole home when all I want is some cold in bed room.
If you have central air, you could close off the vents to the other rooms other than the bedroom.  I have a second bedroom that i don't use so I close the vents to that room then close the door.  That room stays quite a bit warmer than the rooms I use.  I figure it must save some electricity if the AC doesn't have to cool that space.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2017, 02:35:25 PM »
Well, it was a noble effort (if I do say so myself), but I ended up putting my window A/C in the attic today.  This morning we awoke to indoor temp of 69 (yay!) and relative humidity 74% (not yay!).  At humidity levels this high, hard-surfaced floors feel sticky to walk on, and carpet feels...crunchy?  I went outside for a bit and started sweating.  After coming back inside, the sweat did not evaporate, and in fact I kept on sweating.  More concerning, RH above about 60% is not so great for allergy sufferers, and we have a few of those in the house.

My basement dehumidifier has been chugging nonstop trying to keep the RH around ~50.  I put another dehumidifier on the 1st floor, and after running all day the temp/RH is 76/66 -- actually a higher dew point than this morning, probably because we all keep breathing.  I could open all the windows in the house and let the outdoor air, with slightly lower dew point, dry out the house somewhat.  But I know from experience that it takes many hours to do so, and it means our indoor temperatures would get too hot to sleep well tonight (it's in the low 90's outside right now).

So my new goal is to run the window A/C('s -- I'll probably put in 1 or 2 more on the 2nd and 1st floors, as needed) only until the RH drops below 60.

Alf91

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2017, 03:09:29 PM »
With the humidity, it 'feels like' 97 here today. Tomorrow it will be 105. :(

So yeah, A/C is on as needed. I keep the blinds closed during the day, open the windows at night. My a/c costs about $1/day.

slackmax

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2017, 06:08:29 AM »
Supposed to be 93 and humid today here in Pa.  I'll see if I can resist turning on the a/c.  Windows are closed. Blinds down.  It's the humidity that makes things horrible, not just the heat. Maybe windows open would be better, if there were a decent wind.

Bird In Hand

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Re: No A/C
« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2017, 08:18:24 AM »
Supposed to be 93 and humid today here in Pa.  I'll see if I can resist turning on the a/c.  Windows are closed. Blinds down.  It's the humidity that makes things horrible, not just the heat. Maybe windows open would be better, if there were a decent wind.

I've found that indoor relative humidity tends to be higher than outdoor in the warm months, and the only workable options to manage humidity on a hot/humid day are:

1) Close windows and crank the A/C and/or dehumidifiers to get the indoor RH down, regardless of temperature.

2) if the outdoor dew point is acceptable (mid 50's or lower), open all windows and put outward-facing box fans on a high setting in the windows of the uppermost level of the house.  Some adjustment to technique is needed on a single-story house.  Your goal is to roughly equalize indoor/outdoor temperatures, but you'll feel like you're sitting in a breezy shade outdoors.

Unfortunately 1) is more common than 2) on the mid-Atlantic/Northeast US between June-Aug.  Because of the humidity, I can't even fathom ever living in FL -- or anywhere with similar humidity.