Weekly Roundup: Northwest Heat Wave Edition

My friends in the northwest tell me it’s been hot lately, and just today I read where Seattle broke a record temperature set back in 1941. Forgive me for not having much sympathy, as temperatures in the south hover in the high 90’s (and higher) from the end of May to early September. Of course, we are used to it-if there is such a thing as getting used to a 107-degree heat index with high humidity.

I do feel for those without air conditioning in a region where it typically isn’t needed very often. If you live in this part of the country, I’m interested to hear how you’re coping with the heat. Stay safe, and cool!

The Frugal Roundup

What If There Was No Tomorrow? Before we get into personal finance stuff, I wanted to share this story from my blogging colleague, Lazy Man and Money. Lazy almost died last Friday, quite literally, but pulled through. Glad you’re still with us, Lazy! (@Lazy Man and Money)

Paying off Debt: Lowest Balance or Highest Interest First? We have enjoyed the most success paying off the lowest balance debts first, and celebrating each zero balance as a new mini-milestone. The only exception was our car, which we moved up in the payoff schedule because it had the biggest monthly payment to free up. (@ Million Dollar Journey)

The Art of the Business Trip. Steve sounds as disillusioned as I am with business travel. It used to be kind of an adventure, an opportunity to see something new on the company dime. Now it is just a necessary evil that I try to avoid as much as possible. (@Brip Blap)

How to Budget for an Irregular Income. For those who do not earn a steady income, budgeting can prove to be a real nightmare. Some months are really good, and some are very lean, but those bills still roll in, regardless. (@Get Rich Slowly)

Saving for Opportunity. I love the idea of saving for opportunities. Unfortunately, I spent much of my younger life financing “opportunities” with a credit card. Now, with some debt paid off, a little more cash flow, I’m able to take advantages of opportunities with cash (like that yard sale sofa we scored a couple weeks ago!).

Best of the Rest


  1. I live in Seattle now, but grew up in Atlanta, and always had outside jobs (like landscaping) in the summers during high school and college. So I’ve always felt more comfortable in the heat than most people around here. Native Northwesterners start melting when it reaches 85 degrees. But in the South, you at least have the option to cool off with air conditioning at home, at work, in restaurants, etc. Here in the Northwest, air conditioning is scarce, even in most public and private buildings/businesses where you’d think it would be in place. Both buildings I work in on the Univ. of Washington campus: no A/C. My house: no A/C. The local restaurants down the block: no A/C. Even the tried-and-true “let’s go to the movie theater to cool off” (which in the South means bring a sweatshirt) doesn’t work because the A/C at the theater is so weak that it can’t cool the large room. So we dragged a futon mattress down into our unfinished basement to sleep at night. Its a lot like indoor camping, but at 11:00 at night it was 71 deg in the basement compared to 89 deg up in the main part of the house. By coincidence we are leaving tonight for a two week vacation with family in Northern Michigan where the high temps are in the mid-70s. Hopefully the heatwave will be over when we get home!

  2. I’m originally from Northern California, which feels much like Olympia (103 yesterday) where I live right now. I bought a window air conditioner four years ago on clearance in January following four days in the 90’s the previous summer. It has served us remarkably well. We keep it downstairs in our main living area/kitchen and it keeps those rooms at about 75 all day. Upstairs is about 86 degrees by comparison. We have been camping out in the living room the last three days. I usually am awoken about 2 or 3am by a child falling of an air mattress, so I get up then, turn off the A/C, put the window fans up, open the garage door, and turn the air intake on that connects to the heater/blower. This brings all the cool air from outside into the house. The house was 70 degrees by 7:30 am this morning, very tolerable. At 9 am, I shut the house, close the curtains and turn the window A/C on to maintain the temperature.

  3. And at midnight, it’s still hovering around 85 degrees here in Portland.
    Luckily, I work in the tech industry and my wife is a nurse. We do get to escape to the cooler temps at work.

  4. Absolutely painful here in Seattle for us weather weanies, like when it snows we are woefully unprepared. It inspired me to build my own AC unit since none are to be had at any of the local retailers. It works to an extent you can see my website for the details you other Northwesterners.

  5. I live in Boise and while it’s not been too intolerably, I’m looking forward to a bit cooler. We try to minimize the use of our A/C by
    * setting the temp at 78
    * using a variable thermostat to up the level to 88 while we’re out (8am to 4:30pm) and at night
    * open all the windows and sliding glass door at night as soon as it’s cooler
    * ceiling fans

    I’d be interested to hear a comparison of swamp coolers, heat pumps and A/C for frugality and their impacts on the earth.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  6. I live in the Seattle area and it has been super hot. It doesn’t seem to get any cooler than about 88 degrees inside and yesterday was about 107/108 here. My apartments don’t have A/C. I did some shopping yesterday to get into an A/C store. I’ve been taking cold showers every few hours. On Mon & Tues I went to a water park. My fiance and I tried to go swimming yesterday but we drove around and every pool and beach was too packed to even think about it. I think he was getting a heat stroke because he was having trouble breathing and he had a temp of 102. All the stores are out of fans and A/C. I saw the news about people standing in line at 1am for a A/C unit lol. I know it’s only for a couple days and it will go back down. At least I have a fan to help me sleep, I guess if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to sleep in this weather.

  7. We live in Atlanta now, so summers of perpetual heat are the norm. However it seems the South is better prepared to deal with heat, even at the extremes.

    Having grown up in the Northeast, where summer temps can be every bit as hot (and even more humid)than in much of the South, heat waves were killers–literally.

    Many of the older buildings, and there are more than a few, don’t have air conditioning and many of the elderly forego it because they didn’t grow up with it. It wasn’t uncommon for some of them to die of heat stroke during heat waves, and medical authorities made public appeals for people to check in on their elderly family and neighbors.

    When an area isn’t properly prepared for extreme heat, it isn’t anything to take lightly.

  8. I live in Seattle and while it has been really hot, I would be okay. It’s the kiddos that are having a hard time with going to sleep when it’s 93 still in the house. I’ve been putting their pillows in the freezer along with those rice-bag microwave packs. They’ve been a life saver!!

  9. The really hot weather just ended today. Yeah!!! I’m a transplant from Michigan originally so I know about hot humid weather in the summer. But with Seattle, AC is just not as popular. I’ve never missed it since I’ve moved over here until this week! My house was miserable the previous three nights. I went shopping at Costco and it was equally miserable.

  10. Thanks for the sympathy. I’ll remember when you get a freak cold spell and have a heating bill of $300. for the month. But on the other hand I love your site and follow it. I live in northern Idaho and chose to because I do not do well in heat and humidity together. I just stay in mostly during the day and use a wet cloth around my neck with the fan on. It can keep you cool and happy. Also always drink lots of cool, not cold, water. Thanks, Sherrie! I write articles on these very survival subjects if you are interested.