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The Summer without an Air Conditioner

Lasko 16 inch electonically reversible window fan
Lasko 16 inch electronically reversible window fan

We’re trying to live without an air conditioner this summer. It was actually my idea as a way to reduce our electricity consumption and save some money. My wife doesn’t like the sound of an air conditioner and was eager to agree.

A few weeks ago, we bought a new fan for our bedroom which is doing a remarkably good job so far. Our last decent fan was made by a company named Patton, which used to make great fans in the US. They seem to have disappeared. Too bad, because they were really solid, high-powered fans that moved an incredible amount of air through our house. Unfortunately our last Patton fan committed suicide when it blew itself out of a window last year and bent a blade. The thing sounded like an aircraft propeller when it was running.

Our newest and biggest fan is a Lasko 16 Inch Reversible Window Fan. It’s nice because you can switch reverse the direction of airflow without taking it out of the window. It rests on screws mounted onto the window sash, making it easy to move out of the way if you want to close the window or get at the screen window. The Lasko really cools our bedroom off fast and keeps it pleasant in the evening. It’s nowhere as solid as that old Patton, but it’s worth every penny of the $80 we paid for it.

Not having to take the fan out of the window to reverse it is a big deal in my house. We have a 120-year-old home with very old windows that pop out of their frames and crash to the ground from the second story if you open them too much. While we’ve replaced a lot of them with newer windows, many are still “original,” and act out periodically to the amusement of our carpenter.

The open question is whether we’ll get through the hottest, most humid nights in late July and August with no air conditioner. So far, so good, but the hottest days of New England are still on the horizon.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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  1. Have you seen those new blade-less Dyson fans? They don't have a window version, but they certainly rouse my curiosity.

  2. Whoa just checked the price on those blade-less Dyson fans…WOW!

  3. Check to see if the design of your house and attic will work with a whole house fan. These are common in the south where heat is more of an issue than in New England. These fans pull outside air through open windows and exhaust the air into the superheated attic where the air is then vented outside. I live in Minnesota and estimate our whole house fan cuts air conditioning use in half. Since our house has casement windows placing a fan in the window is problematic. A DIY installation will cost $150 and take 2-6 hours.

  4. I live in Texas. John Carrier invented air conditioning and I think his birthday should be a state holiday here. The other night, it was still 97° after midnight.

    Unfortunately for us, this has been "The Summer without and Air Conditioner" a couple times. First, the run capacitor on our condensing unit quit. I was without AC a couple days until I got the part in. Later that week, our main breaker box fried. An electrician friend and I replaced the guts and got things going again.

    I'm thinking of installing a whole house fan but that will only work for shoulder seasons here.

  5. We've talked about a whole house fan before, but we're getting by fine with this Lasko. It's been really hot on the east coast and super humid this summer, but it's not bad at night. Maybe 8 degrees (70 F) warmer than with the air conditioner on the worst 94+ degree days. We're also thinking about sleeping downstairs where it's cooler on the really bad nights coming up later this week. I'm surprise by how easy this transition has been.

    But Texas is insane. My folks live down there and we avoid the place in summer. You need to be a cactus or an armadillo to live there.

  6. Philip, come to England at the moment, you won't need aircon!! it was that cold the other night that my wife wanted me to light the wood burner.

    We had our summer back in March to May by the look of it. Had virtually no rain for three months and record high temperatures for that time of year. We are paying for it now with constant rain and cool temperatures. I really hope it picks up for my 2 week vacation to Scotland in a week's time.

  7. Armadillos don't actually live here. They're born dead on the side of the road.

    Where in Texas do your parents live?

  8. I grew up in southern Louisiana. When I was 11, the central a/c- heating in our house broke (installed when my mother was 10) and we went without till we could afford to fix it. That took over a year.

    Things like that are why I love the PNW.

  9. Good luck making it through the next couple of days! It looks like temps could be touching 100. Just put an AC in for the first time in 20 years in anticipation of this heat wave.

  10. The second floor got up to 88 degrees by mid-afternoon. I went swimming. Cooling down now. I think we're going to make it. You'd be amazed by how much email I've gotten about getting rid of the AC.

  11. You could freeze some water in plastic bottles and place them in front of the fan making a cheap 'air-con' unit

  12. 98F today and I'm not about to shut off the a/c.

    Women in hell are no doubt complaining about the cold.

    I typically open the windows and doors(screened) at night and close them up mid morning and seldom use the a/c but not with this heat.

  13. good luck with trying to go w/o AC, I can't imagine not having it in GA, I keep two ceiling fans running 24/7 too

  14. Just returned from Ranier. Below freezing at 10,500 feet so it's the ultimate way to avoid AC. Another solution is the Eco Breeze from Nature's Cooling Solutions. It's a little pricey but it automates the night breeze process and even works during rain.

  15. My summer without AC is progressing quite well, although I wish it wouldn't. Yesterday, the condensing unit started making weird noises and I smelled hot electrical wiring. Then the AC quit altogether. It was only 106 degrees. Today, there was more weirdness and I checked the voltage at my main breaker. I had 300V coming in, and 150V at each side. Evidently, the transformer that serves us was weirding out. The electric company just came out and did some work and now I'm back to 240V and the AC is working, although I think the motor is going out on the unit. It's the third time we've been without AC in this brutally hot summer. Of course, it's only 105 today.

  16. Sunday it got up to 82F. That sucked. In all seriousness, the lack of heat in the west is preventing a lot of good trails from melting out. Only one person so far has actually completed the Wonderland trail, for example, and his photos show the trail to be like 65% snow covered.

  17. You may have missed this news item on July 21 here in the Pacific Northwest:

    "While Sea-Tac Airport only reports temperatures on the hour, the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department keeps a minute-by-minute log of the weather station atop their roof on the Seattle campus. And since the UW is in the heart of Seattle, while the airport is more like the lower-left shin, I figure this could be an accurate representation of what a true Seattle person would have felt this summer.

    "The mission: Find out how many minutes it's been at 80 degrees or warmer this year– what I would call a true warm summer day in Seattle.

    "The answer: 78 minutes."

  18. Update from July 2012 – we were quite comfortable last summer with this Lasko Fan and despite high summer temps this year, we sleep continue to sleep very comfortably at night. I finally disposed of our old air conditioners yesterday!

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