Preparing for a Heat Wave

Today’s post is a few hours late thanks to a household emergency. Over the weekend our home’s central air conditioner died. It happened late Friday night. By early morning Saturday it was 86 degrees inside our house. Opening windows would have done little good as Saturday’s temperatures were expected to near 100 degrees with high humidity. In fact, it was so bad there was a Heat Advisory issued for the entire weekend.

It quickly became apparent we would not be able to occupy the house during the heat of the day, and may not be able to occupy it at all – who can sleep in a muggy 90-degree house!

For all I’ve considered regarding preparedness, I suddenly realized I was ill-prepared to handle a loss of cooling. We have propane and other heat sources to specifically serve as a backup for loss of heat in the winter, but nothing to prepare for loss of cooling in the summer.

We considered the idea of staying in a hotel for a couple days, but worried about our dog being home alone in the heat. After contacting a number of air conditioning repair company’s emergency lines, I learned they only had skeleton crews on staff, and they had many calls ahead of us. It would likely be Monday before anyone could get to our problem unit. If they did manage to get to us, it would cost an arm and a leg (don’t these things always seem to happen on the weekend!).

I’ve performed a few AC repairs over the years. There was the time I had to unclog the air conditioner drain line, and I did manage to install a programmable themostat, but this was beyond my level of expertise as all the standard troubleshooting failed to resolve the problem.

For the cost of a couple nights at a hotel, I bought a window air conditioning unit to place in our master bedroom window – a place where we could all congregate in the heat of the day. They are easy enough to install and take down that I can store it and only install if we have problems with our central air conditioning unit. And since I only needed to cool a single room, there was no need to spend many hundreds of dollars on a much larger window unit.

Of course, this plan only works in the event it is just your central air conditioning unit that died, not that you’ve lost power to your home. Actually, this is a more likely scenario considering the strain a dangerous heat wave can put on power grids. The next step in ultimate preparation would be to have a generator available powerful enough to run your AC, or to install a whole-house standby generator that would automatically kick on in the event you lose power.

Backup power sources are expensive (permanent, whole-house backup generators can run a few thousand dollars, while portable units are a little cheaper, but often don’t produce enough wattage to operate everything in your home). Even higher on the price range you can find solar power generators, which might be worth a look considering other types of generators require some type of fuel to operate (gasoline for smaller units and propane for large, standby models). Depending on the emergency, getting additional fuel could be a challenge.

The Home Depot website offers an interactive tool to give you an idea what size generator you might need depending on the number of appliances and electronics you’d like to run in a power outage.

If you live a cooler climate, or at least a less humid climate, you can probably get by for a couple days without air conditioning by visiting a library or catching a matinee in the middle of the day and using a window fan to draw in cooler air in the evenings and early morning. Others might get by with misting fans, or by setting up a homemade air conditioner (running a fan over an open cooler filled with ice).

However, if you live in a hot, humid climate zone, occupying a house with no air conditioning can be downright dangerous. This is particularly true for the very young and the very old, as kids and the elderly are more susceptible to heat exhaustion.

This experience over the weekend is really part of a larger theme – how to prepare for “alternative” emergencies. By alternative, I mean outside of your everyday financial emergency like a costly hospital stay or expensive car repairs.

How can we better prepare for other types of emergencies? How can we diversify our emergency “fund” by investing in other forms of emergency preparedness? It’s something I plan to write more about in the next day or two, but for now I’m off to get back in front of that air conditioner!

Comments

  1. I lived in Florida a few years ago and lost power for over a week due to a hurricane. We lived in an older home with windows that were painted shut and it was AWFUL!!!!!!!! After that, my husband bought a generator and a window unit but we were fortunate enough to never have to use it for the remainder of our Floridian days.

  2. First, I live alone in a one-bedroom apt in a 64-unit building. I’m on one of the top floors.(12 flights up and down, and I can’t walk them due to health problems.) If the power goes out, in a severe heat wave, there are NO options. You have to get out and stay somewhere else where there IS power and AC and that probably isn’t in the city, as when we lose power, it’s usually the whole borough and beyond. Sans power, there is no air, no way to cook (we don’t have gas), no water and no elevator. (Nobody delivers up 12 flights of stairs even here.)

    I live in one of the single most expensive cities in the U.S. Even if you could find a hotel room (hard to do without access to the Net, which is out in a power failure), even if you have an emergency fund, you could wipe it out in a night or two. And with everyone else in the area competing for rooms, the odds of one being available are small anyway.

    >FYI: Building rules do not permit the use of personal generators and there are NO backup ones in the building (Yea, pretty stupid but it’s expensive for a building of this size.) It also forbids electric heaters in winter as well, which is a good thing since so many people use them and other types and have caused fires in buildings.

    So this Plan B entails a few things, beyond the normal of stocking paper goods and canned foods and water and toughing it out for a day, if you even could. (When our in-room ac is on, our temp is usually 82 and higher. It’s an old building and it retains heat. It takes several days after a heat wave and LOTS of wind to clear out the heat.)

    >>ALways having sufficient cash on hand for at, a minimum, a week of expenses as if you were on vacation somewhere else. (Lodgings, transportation, food out, etc.)

    Power out means whatever stores are open don’t take ATM or credit cards and you also cannot get cash from a bank ATM. You need some serious cash on hand.

    Think about trying to rent a car when they can’t do it because computers are down and they can’t take credit cards. how would you get out except for public transportation, which would be overwhelmed by others trying to get out, too.

    >>Always having one friend outside the city, in a place that you can reach via outgoing public transportation, that you can stay with. (Keep in mind, also, that public transportation, train or bus, may or may not be functioning since staffers cannot get to work.)

    We have tons of friends in the city but if the power is out for ALL of us, we can’t stay with them or vice versa.

    We’re dependent on the running of buses and other transportation (taxis), which is often jeopardized or very limited. (Let’s think. How much would a cab cost to take you an hour or two outside a city? You got that much cash in an emergency fund and readily available?)

    (And don’t even think about calling a close friend to drive in when you’ve also got issues that you sometimes cannot literally get thru turnpike and bridges due to electrically controlled passways/access.)

    The biggest thing is getting OUT, which becomes imperative based on your own physical health, ability to withstand heat and ability to live on canned goods for X number of days. If power is only out a day, you might be able to do it. Beyond that, who knows, so plan for bugging out ASAP.

    Finally, we’re amazed that people who are watching their dollars use central air. Why cool a house when you only need a few rooms, at different times, to cool off?

    We have one AC unit, in the bedroom. Yea, it’s hot as hell in the kitchen and living room, so in summer we have to basically not entertain and just sweat while cooking even with fans on. Our electrical setup literally cannot support more than one AC. In fact, we can’t use certain kitchen appliances when we have the AC on in the bedroom. We used to have an old AC unit that was so good that it also cooled the living room. But when we got an energy-efficient model, we’re lucky if it cools six feet around the bed. Cheaper, yes, but far far less efficient.

    People who live in houses, with cars, have far more ability to adapt to emergencies that we in the city, sans cars, in highrises and such, do not.

    So you have to be really prepared and resourceful.

    (We try to stock as much bottled water as we can. When the electricity goes, so does the power to the boiler, etc. So we lose water too. Something again that non-city folks don’t have to worry about. Plus, a lot of you have gas and can still cook.)

    Bottom line: YOu need to prepare but you are also dependent on the help and resources of others. It’s a crapshoot in the best of circumstances.

      • Believe me, we’ve considered it! Of course, this is not a great time to relocate across the country what with the struggling housing and jobs market. However, we are positioning ourselves for a possible move when things do improve. So far my primary objective is to get away from the oppressive summer heat here in the south. I’m not looking for a harsh winter, but at this point I’ll deal with a little snow to get away from this heat.

  3. I live in coastal North County San Diego. I got a chuckle out of your “might be able to survive a couple days” comment.

    Our house doesn’t have air conditioning.

    Neither does any other house in this area.

    It’s the third house I’ve lived in in California without air conditioning.

    The coast simply doesn’t need it.

    Today it is about 70 and cloudy…it’s unusually cloudy this year, but temps never really go above 75.

    If you go about 8 miles inland, you need A/C, but housing is cheaper.

    -Erica

    • I’m officially jealous, Erica! Just checked weather.com and our current temperature is 98 with a heat index of 108. I’ve always thought the San Diego climate was as close to ideal as you could get.

      • Well, don’t be too jealous…we are looking at buying a house at some point. We found one we really liked. Its price: $569,900. And that’s not unheard of for this area.

        -Erica

        • Yeah my friend just moved from St. Louis to San Diego, and although the weather is divine, the cost of living is crazy. California has higher income tax than just about any other state. The rent is astronomical. Everything costs more. If she had figured all of that in, she might not have left the midwest. But she did it all for love, so I hope she can tough it out. Meanwhile it’s reached at least 90 degrees every day here for a month. Without air conditioning, I’d be out of my mind and quite probably dead.

  4. Funny timing on your post! In the NE, we got hit by a crazy storm Sunday afternoon, and my power company has 2/3rds of it’s customers w/o power (myself included). Even though we had high humidity, near 100 degree weather this weekend, the storm brought some temperature relief, and I napped in the basement to keep cool.
    The bedrooms didn’t get comfortable till late at night, so I lay there wondering if there really is any way to cool the house w/o power..

  5. We just had seven days straight of excessive heat warnings. In the metro area where I live in there are many older homes with no central AC – and many residents who simply cannot afford a window unit or the additional electricity costs associated with air conditioning their home. All 5 counties in the area offer cooling centers – at local libraries, churches, etc – where residents are welcome to spend the day and evening. Some of the local animal shelters are involved so family pets aren’t left home alone in the heat. I also believe they have plans in place in case the power fails at the cooling center sites.

    While you may prefer to stay in your home with a back up generator and a window unit, you should also check with your local emergency management agency to see what plans they have for prolonged or excessive heat waves. It may be less expensive in the long run to spend the weekend playing board games with your family in the basement of a church than to invest in equipment you may never use.

    • Cooling centers are a great idea for those without the means to purchase, and/or run, backup power and A/C. Personally, I would rather be in my own home if at all possible 1)to protect its contents, and 2)because I have seen how living conditions can go downhill fast when sharing space with several other families in a crisis (remember the Superdome fiasco in New Orleans?).

  6. Where I live we have had the hottest summer on record this year with many days of temps in the 90′s and high humidity.

    We had lost power 4 years ago from a Nor’Easter. We have 2 sump pumps that need to always be connected to power. If not, our basement will flood when it is raining heavily. Therefore, we have a generator and an extra can of gasoline for such emergencies. I don’t know if it would provide enough power to run our central air because we haven’t had a power failure in the hot season. We would likely go to DH’s parents and borrow their two window units which are only used in the upstairs bedrooms if they have guests staying (we purchased them for when our children stay at their house).

    Pets would go to the kennel. ;*).

  7. That sounds horrendous. A few years back, a huge storm hit our housee and microbursts (tiny tornados) broke many trees in our neighborhood, falling on cars (one hit our driveway, thankfully the cars were out and it didn’t aim for our house!), and cutting the power for about 36 hours. It was the middle of August and we were left without many options. We slept downstairs to keep it at least a little bit cooler, but I remember thinking how awful it was.

    And of course, home depot was out of all their generators.

  8. To stay cool this summer, we’ve taken advantage of public services in our city. These services include:

    1. Public cooling places.

    and

    2. Extended public pool hours. Some pools in our city have been open until as late as 12 AM.

  9. When we lived in TX many years ago, our AC unit froze up and it was the hottest time of the year – 98+ degrees each day. ICK!! It would be three days before anyone could come to fix the unit so we would undress down to our skivvies to hang out, and slept on our waterbed that had no heater. The bed was cool and refreshing – what a life saver!! Makes me wonder….. does anyone buy waterbeds anymore?! :) Good luck!

  10. We live in Houston, TX…does anybody remember Hurricane Ike in 2008? We were without power for 8-9 days. We don’t have gas. I was still expected to show up for work since they had a backup generator. That was a weird week. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drank bottled water I just happened to buy a few weeks before, pigs in a blanket from a local donut shop that had a backup generator, and cooled off in the Prius 2-3 times a day. I slept on the kitchen’s tile floor with our dogs because it was cooler than the bed upstairs. We would have been completely messed over if it wasn’t for the 3-4 day cool front that blew through Monday night -Thursday – it made my showers almost unbearable, but at least I could sleep.

    We now have a propane grill, a great flashlight that we had during the storm that takes several kinds of batteries and has an attached emergency whistle (we have the Energizer Everready LED Flashlight with Alert Whistle & Battery Options for $20), and still have the awesome Prius that can provide A/C and radio for at least 36 hours on one tank of gas. We sat in that thing for hours and didn’t worry about filling up until 6 days after the storm and it wasn’t even a full tank. :-)

  11. Wow, it was 105 degrees over the weekend where I live so I hope it was at least marginally better where you are! There is a neighborhood a few miles away where everyone lost power, not just the AC, and I can’t even imagine how miserable that must have been. You couldn’t even be outside for 2 seconds without being completely drenched in sweat. I hope everything is back on track for you guys, this kind of heat is dangerous!

  12. I live in the Netherlands and most summers temperatures will be around 35C (95F)) and winters will be mild with some cold spells. Nothing to compare to the extremes in heat and humidity in some states in the US. We live in small houses and only during the past few years busienesses, shops, restaurants, cinemas and people in their private homes installed AC-units. An AC-units is something luxurious and expensive to run (reminder: regular gas for a car costs about ten dollars a gallon (yes: USD 10,00 a gallon!) in the Netherlands). I am sure that when I lived in the Southern States I would have AC in my house too. But on the other side, why pay large amounts of money to cool a house when you don have to? The Amish live without AC, so how do they do that? In the past it has been possible to build houses in which one could live comfortably without AC, so why not in the present. Learn from Australia and Africa: Build houses with lots of ventilation and with extended roofs, with thick hardstone walls, or earthen walls, or walls made with bales of hay…or (an idea I send to the Alaska Daily News: use empty bottles to build houses wiht – cheap, very durable ans environmentally friendly). With modern techniques it will be possible to live even more comfortable then ever before. For example: solar heatpipes that drive a stirlingmotor – which cold outputside can cool an entire house. Use a Geothermal heat exchager, etc….
    Be smart, be eco-friendly, live in a small house and within your means (spend less than you earn and don buy stuff (book exempt).
    Maarten

    • I live in the southern US, in Tennessee near Nashville, and our heat pump broke back in April – it took our a/c with it. It’s been one of the hottest summers on record (right now it’s 93, which is one of the cooler days), but I have to completely agree with you. AC is not necessary, and frankly, by going back and forth between air conditioned rooms or buildings, it’s harder on your body and mind – not only does your body constantly have to compensate for the temperature change, but in your mind you are thinking about it, too. People have lived without AC until the past 40 years or so – how did they do it?

      I’m lucky enough to have ceiling fans in nearly every room. Those can lower the temperature of a room buy 6 to 10 degrees. We leave the windows open to catch a breeze because if we close them, it quickly becomes stuffy. (But when we lived up north, we would open the windows at night and close them during the day and that seemed to help, too.) Fans assist in other rooms.

      The most important thing, and the thing that kills the elderly and children, is dehydration. Dehydration causes heat stroke and heat exhaustion. So the very best thing you can do when your A/C goes out is make sure you drink enough water! I am constantly handing my kids cups of water.

      Also, spritzing cold water on your face and neck with a spray bottle or putting a cold wet washcloth on your neck also helps to cool you down.

      Keep curtains drawn during the day if the sun comes in them.

      And you can prepare for this event by planting trees on the south and west sides (it really does work!)

      It stinks, but we’ve lived with it. We’re in the process of putting in a new system, but until then, we can do without. It’s not comfortable, but it’s livable. :)

      • Holly – those porches sound beautiful. I’ve always loved the architecture of older houses.

        Candice – your spot on on the spritzing. On days it’s above 100 we ‘ve been getting cold water on our shirts because a wet shirt seems to keep us coll for 2-3 hours. Also my son has been allowed unlimited water sprinkler play time as long as he’s actually in the sprinkler – once he’s had enough the water goes off!

  13. I partially agree with Maarten’s sentiments, I live in Australia, and we have hot summers. The temps you are talking about are really hot, I get pretty miserable in anything over 40 degrees (104 f) but I would really recommend expanding your emergency focus to include changes to your house (like roof vents, heavier insulation, plant trees) so that losing AC isn’t an emergency and maybe broadening your ideas to keep the kids cool. if you have a water supply (which sometimes Australians don’t have) there is heaps you can do, like letting the kids bathe in cold water, hanging wet cloths in the breeze of a window, drinking alot, not exerting yourself, avoiding being in the sun etc. I have to admit to never having travelled to your area, or country and I had to use an online calculator to work out the temps you were talking about, maybe the humidity is completely different etc but I think sometimes you can change our lifestyle or habits to accommodate very hot weather, which doesn’t rely on AC.

  14. Not the point of the article, I know, but I think it is sooo sweet that you would not leave your doggy in the heat. So many people could care less about their animals. I think it is wonderful that you cared enough about your pet. On another note, I know your pain. Our central heat and air went out about 2 weeks ago, and we ended up having to pay over $200.00 to get a concensor (??) or something like that replaced, and also we had to wait about a day and a half before they could even get here. Thanks for the info! :-)

    • Do you mean a Compressor for about $2,000.00, or a Contactor for $200.00?

      Either way, it’s expensive, but that’s about what the going rate is.

          • Must have been the capacitor. It costs about two hundred dollars to replace. It looks kind of like a battery and they cost a mere $15.00 to buy on line. I have a hunch it might be easy to install if you know where it goes — perhaps even just plugs in. We paid $200 for this service a couple of years back and I checked the price of the exact capacitor on line and was shocked at the low price after paying 200..

  15. Man that sucks! I feel your pain though. We lost our electricity for over about 20 hours Sunday into Monday and just THAT was awful! We also were experiencing the 100 degree tempatures coupled with the humidity. SO UNCOMFORTABLE….

    Fortunetly for me, I just went to a friends house for the night:) I guess you could say, that’s my backup plan:)

  16. My grandparents (who had a inground pool), didn’t have air conditioning. Luckily, were will live the tempature only get really hot in August (except for this July…), so we made do.

    I would often swim as much as possible or hang out in their basement when I was over. Their basement was cool, with a pool table and dart board, it was a small boy’s paradise! So much so, that I didn’t even miss the lack of an air conditioning.

    So if you have a basement where you live, that’s where I’d be camping out until the AC was fixed… The basement and a fan or 2.

    Still, I bet you’re very glad it is fixed though :)

  17. We lived in Virginia for eight years, the last three in a house w/o central air. Every time I felt sorry for myself I’d remind myself that people lived for HUNDREDS of years in that area w/o A/C or even running water. Modern houses aren’t built for natural cooling, but there are things you can do. Even in areas of high humidity, close the windows and window coverings during the day, and open them at night to let cooler air in. Ceiling or other fans, will move the air around and help you to feel cooler. We had a huge box fan in a window and kept it running 24/7 to move the air around in the living room area. Dress in loose cotton or linen clothing and drink gallons of water. Permanent changes are planting trees, bushes or vines on the south and west sides of the house to shade and cool. Insulate the attic and install vents, including ones with thermostats to turn on a fan to exhaust the hot air out.
    We lived in a rental and couldn’t do much but we endured and lived to tell the tale. At the very end of our last summer there the electric water pump went out on the well and we were without running water for five days. But that’s a story for another time. All my life I’ve studied history and “pioneer” living. There have been times in the past twenty years when I’ve had to live it. Sure has given me an appreciation for modern conveniences.

  18. I grew up in SW FL and we didn’t have A/C – not at school nor at home – so all I remember of those times is a fan in every room – and we survived – but it was uncomfortable to say the least. Guess we were just used to it and didn’t know any differently.

    Now, in NW coastal Oregon, I only need A/C a couple weeks of the year, if that… so about 15 years ago I bought a small window unit. It is in the master bedroom, but with fans can take the cooling slightly to a couple other rooms… When it’s over 90, that door gets shut and I don’t come out til it cools off … haha!
    Other family members drag in sleeping bags, the tv is there, and the bathroom off it, so with a couple tv tables, we can play games, write, read, or watch tv – and sleep comfortably. Been really nice – $99 expense for the unit (very small unit) over 15 years :) Stays in the bottom of the closet in the off season :)

    • We are definitely spoiled by the air conditioner. My grandfather reminded me of this throughout this past weekend’s ordeal (he lives with us), as he sat calmly while we sweated and fretted over the broken air. He grew up without A/C, power or even running water for a time, but even he admits modern luxuries have spoiled him a bit, too.

      I definitely envy those in the northwest. It was quite depressing Saturday morning (around 4:30am) when I opened the windows expecting a cool breeze and the warm, muggy air outside was the same temp as inside the house – about 85 degrees. Yuck!

  19. We’re in east Nebraska – so it doesn’t get as hot as Arizona but it’s much hotter & humid then the Dakotas.
    We’ve been without AC since May – I’ve been told it’s unrepairable although someone is coming by this weekend to verify that diagnosis (incase it was just a sales pitch).
    I’ve been doing what my Grandparents & parents did during summer power outages (those happen often in the country after major storms). We open the windows after 9 at night & if possible have box fans on one side of the house blow cold air in and for an hour or soon the other side blow air out. I close a few windows before going to bed for saftey and turn some of the fans off so it’s quiet enough to sleep. When I wake up at 5 I open all the windows & front door back up & blow the cold air in until I leave at 7.
    I have 2 one liter bottles that are about 80% full that I freeze every night and if it’s going to get above 90 I give one frozen bottle to the rabbit (before moving in town I had a rabbitry and they get heat stroke easy & giving them frozen items to lay against can help) and one to the dog kennel just to be on the safe side. So far it seems to have been more for my peace of mind then their comfort.
    When I get ready to leave for work I close all the windows, close the blinds (in hopes they will reflect some heat out since they are all white) and close the thermal curtains to block out any other heat.
    So far we’ve topped out at 87 when it was 102 outside. Shutting the windows also seems to help with humidity a good bit.
    Also taking cold/cool baths/showers instead of hot ones helps keep the humidity inside the house in check and also cools ya off much quicker then a fan.

    That said I don’t think any of this would work in southern states where it gets above 110.

  20. seriously people?! Our grandparents and generations before lived fine without air conditioning. It’s not HEAT that hurts anyone it’s a lack of hydration. Americans need to quit being such wimps, it’s an embarrassment.

  21. I live in Michigan. Even with the lake, it’s darn hot here this summer. Hitting 90 most days…yet, I go home and my house is naturally 20 degrees cooler than the outside temp. The answer? HUGE TREES in my yard. Two tall pines on the west side block sun all day. East side has a huge plum tree, tall pines and a couple of really big, old red maples. The back side of the house (southern exposure) is full sun all day and not insulated (old farm house) yet.

    North side has a full wrap around porch. Between the porch and the trees it’s like natural air conditioning. Wouldn’t cut those trees for anything! Imagine if the back yard (south side) had a few trees…it takes several days of 90 degree weather for me to see any increase in my interior temp.

    Trees, folks. That’s the answer. Except in desert climes, maybe.

    • The area we moved to is a former agricultural area, hence no mature trees. It’s something I really miss about my old house. We’ve planted several trees around the lot and all but one took. However, like the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.

      Hopefully, when these trees mature we’ll get some much needed shade around the property. As it is, our house sits right out in the open and bakes all summer long.

  22. You people are sooo freaking soft!

    In Australia where I live we had 7 days of plus 113 deg F tempereratures without air conditioning (and even if you have it it doesn’t work at temperatures like that). And they WERE NO FATALITIES!!!!. Unlike our european and american friends we know the only think to do in a heat wave is to 1) not do too much :) 2) drink lots of water and 3) eat delicious salty things

    Summer temps are generaly about 100. No schools here have airconditioning or heating so we have a “hot schools policy” if it gets above 105 the kids get to go home. LIke a tropics version of snow days. They’re pretty fun you just go an splash about in the local creek.

    Imagine 100 plus deg christmas days! Welcome to Australia.

  23. Trees are great, but they won’t help the humidity — but they will still have an effect, even there.

    Reading all these posts I am struck by the YMMV principle. I am surprised at how many people feel that 82 in the house is too hot; I regularly let my house stay at 85 during the day and 78 at night when it is this hujmid. It is not too hot; it’s only in the mid 90s, but it is definitely too humid for me! Otherwise I would leave the AC off –mine went out this weekend, too, and the house only got to 88 degrees. With a couple of floor fans and the whole house fan going, my bedroom eventually got down to outside temps of 78. It was sticky but manageable. Fans, wearing light clothing, staggering physical activity with stationary work, napping in the afternoon and working later at night / earlier in the morning all are part of my strategy. Of course, I work at home much of the week at this time of year, but for those working traditional hours, you aren’t at home during the day’s heat anyway. Mind you, it isn’t as comfy as I like, but it isn’t hotel-time, either. (I froze water in plastic cups and put them in the dogs’ bowls, and they did fine, too.)

    Unfortunately, a small apartment can get much hotter than my house, especially one on a top floor. I draw the line when the ambient temperature inside is at or above normal body temperature.

  24. I agree with Justin – I don’t know if it’s because I spent a lot of time with my Dust bowl era grandparents in their dwindling years, a lot of time out doors doing famr work or what but it seems to me most folks are just too cushy. If you drink enough water your fine. Hadn’t thought of salt but it makes sense. Or maybe it’s not so much cushy but maybe because they keep in the 60′s or 70′s inside their home, their bodies go in to temperature shock when they are outside? The secretary keeps the office at 63 and I have serious trouble going from 90-102 outside & in the un-conditioned buildings I work in, to 63-65 in the office.

    Also forgot I have a huge mature elm on my south side that shelters much of the house – that probably helps too. Humidity here is the stinger when it gets hot. When that tree goes I don’t know what I’ll do – it grows right along a retaining wall & I don’t know if I should grow another sturdier tree next to it to take over in 10 yrs when the elm breaks up or not. Neighbor has tried to cut down the elm 3 times now even though it’s on my property so she might lop down an oak sapling if I put it there.

  25. Trees, shade, porches! I live in a 100 year old frame farm house in Mississippi. I do love my air conditioning — I have central which I rarely use and a window unit in my BR which runs 8 months a year. But even without AC, a shaded deep porch is bearable in 100+ temps.

  26. Good post. We are going through almost the same thing. We are renting out our house and the coil in our heating/cooling unit is slowly leaking refrigerant. Lucky for us we topped it off and it should last the rest of the hot months at least. It gets to 110 degrees here, you’re lucky!

    On a good note, our apartment ceilings are lower, the place is smaller, and the A/C works great!

  27. On Miriam’s comment:
    I know I can find directions to fix my appliance on fixitnow.com and I’ve foudn people’s instructions on fixing my car by googleing what I need to do on my make & model so you could be spot on for their thing.

  28. On: Miriam’s and Sam’s comment: Thank you for the webadres of Fixit.
    I would NOT recommend though that one tries to replace the condensator (or electric condensor) of an AC-unit, or any other appliance (washing machine, tumble dryer, etc.)!! A condensator looks like a small soda can with electrical leads on one side and a bolt and nut fastener on the other side. The capacity (the amount of electrical charge that can be stored) is printed on the side, mostly in micro-Farad mF, or millionth-Farad uF. Even when an appliance has been switched of for months or has been disconnected from the mains, there still is enough charge stored inside to kill a person. It can explode when it is installed the wrong way (it has positive + and negative – charge leads).
    So whatever you do on maintainance, or replacement of worn parts, never touch the condensator – please call an expert to change it for you (The part only costs a few bob to buy, but one needs expert skills to change it in a safe way).

  29. Take the perishable food from the freezer and fridge and consolidate it to the smallest space possible–in a cooler or a box wrapped in one of those emergency blankets.
    Take cold showers frequently.
    If the bugs aren’t bad, sit on the ground (grass, not pavement) in the shade or in a tent. Earth is a great heat sink. A plastic tent bottom will still be cool, but even a ground pad will feel too warm.
    As I lerned on Wise Bread, the reflective emergency blankets are great for keeping sun and heat from the windows.

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