Numero Uno: Gave up air-conditioning. Hated it anyway. Dried up the nostrils, made ears ring. Instead: we
* Put in tight-fitting new windows with UV glass in the 1912 house.This meant winter and summer, the cold and hot stay out, the bearable temps stayed in.
* In summer we track the sun around the house. (Yes, we are the center of the universe. Just in case you didn’t know!) Hot morning sun on the south side we slap in the face with closed windows and lowered shades.
Hot afternoon sun on west-facing kitchen windows, ditto with window closings and shades. Remember those dainty Victorian females who pasted cologne-wettened handkies to their fevered brows? They collapsed in darkened rooms. Dark in summer equals cooler.
When the sun moves away and the windows are in shade, we open them and position floor fans to draw cool air inside.
Numero Due We planted trees like there’s no tomorrow. Over twenty-five years, our no-tree lot has become a green jungle. Eight species of shade now cool us north and south. We can’t control east and west. These belong to the driveways, but our neighbors are close. They shade us. We shade them. Note: we planted mostly northland natives–better survivors. Silver Maples our favorite.
Numero Tre Cotton, cotton and more cotton. Abhor synthetics–they paste the sweat to your body. Cotton breathes. Cotton like linen and wool is a natural fiber. Light, loose clothing for summer–easy skirts, tank tops, shorts. Bulky layered clothing for winter. Many many layers like a critter adding fur. Simple, but humans don’t have smarts born in. We have to teach every generation over and over and over. (Watching TV from a young age doesn’t help.)
Numero Quatro We stopped plugging in what we weren’t using. Mostly. It was a fight, but I won. The husband went blah-blah-blah, this won’t work on a power strip, this is too much trouble on a power-strip. I bought the strips, I power-stripped TVs, computers, fans, DVD players, shredders. I also began pulling out of the sockets the dangling plug-ins for stupid phones. What kind of smarts keeps a power cord plugged in when it’s not attached to what it’s supposed to be juicing–eh? That’s when the electric bill really bottomed out. We power-strip TVs, computers, fans, DVD players, shredders.I’m still working on the coffee pot.
Numero Cinco We changed all the light blubs to compact flourescents and LEDs. Our Christmas tree now has bright blue LED lights. (Maybe Rudolph needs a blue LED nose?) ALL the lights are flourescent or LED–in the ceiling fixtures, in the lamps, under the cabinets, above the stairs, in the basement, in the attic. ALL the lights. When we leave a room, we turn out the lights. I get a little zing when I turn off his lights!
Now he’s frowning and turning off my lights.
Postscript: Energy conservation, and staying cool and cheap was all my schtick. But he’s caught on. In winter, we conserve by turning up the thermostat to 68 and down to 62. Every night. I cheat with an electric blanket. My argument: I’m a southern girl. My blood will never be thick enough for 30-below. My first winter in Minnesota I had frostbitten fingers and toes. I was wearing thin leather gloves and boots. Fine for New York. Stupid for Minnesota.But I didn’t know!
Postscript: Some African women wet their long, scarf-like clothing to cool off by evaporation. I keep an inch of water in the tub, and on 90+ days, step in, douse myself all over, pat dry. The fan feels heavenly on wet skin.
Finale: Our monthly electric bill has shed $100. This began about 9 months ago. No reason to think it will go back up. We got energy credit with the replacement windows.