Here's what we've done instead:
We had blackout blinds installed. It was an investment, but much cheaper than an AC unit. Not only do they keep out heat when the sun is blazing, they do an amazing job of blocking light while we sleep, and they also keep our home cozy on cold winter nights. At our first house, we just had lined curtains with homemade curtain rods, which absolutely worked as well. It just depends on the aesthetic you want, and your budget.
It's counter-intuitive to close up the house on hot days, when you just want some lovely wind to cool you off. But, if it's hotter outside than inside, and you don't want your house to heat up, it's extremely effective to shut every window and close all your curtains and blinds. We keep our windows open all night for the glorious cool, fresh air. On very hot days, I close all the windows and blinds in the morning while the house is still cool. The heat stays outside, our home stays comfortable, and the only energy used is what it takes to walk around and close up all the windows.
Also, notice the standing fan. We have fans in a few rooms of our house. They do an amazing job of keeping the air feeling cool while using very little electricity. They are only really effective if someone is in the room to enjoy the cooling effect of moving air, so there's no point having them running when no one's around.
Speaking of fans, if you have central heating, then you probably have one of these, which can be set so the fan is just on, without heat or AC. This whole house fan moves air all around your home, and I really notice the effect in our two-story house since it brings cool air from the basement up into the top floor. Along with the closed windows and blinds, this really effectively keeps our house comfortable- as long as we don't use the stove...
I never cook inside on hot days, except first thing in the morning while all the windows are still open. For lunch, we'll often reheat leftovers in the microwave, which does a good job of heating the food without heating up the kitchen. But when it comes to really making a meal, I just take it outside! Many people use an outdoor grill for this, but honestly on the hottest days I would hardly want to be stuck cooking over a hot grill. I have a small table set up on the deck outside our dining room, and it's here that I run our electric pressure cooker. Before I had a pressure cooker, I would do the same thing with a crock pot, letting the food cook for hours outside where it would not heat the house. It sure beats going to a restaurant every time it's too hot to cook! For more info about what an electric pressure cooker does and is, check out the article I wrote about my Instant Pot.
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Four Ways To Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning
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