When we moved to Boston in early 2015, one of the biggest adjustments was to not having central heat and air in our home. It was a sticky, don’t-touch-me, unbearable kind of summer. The kind where it feels like someone is breathing hot breath down your back and you walked out of your house wearing a stuffy wool sweater… except the kind you can’t take off.
And as a green family, it was the last effort to reduce our footprint. But with high electricity costs in Boston and the need to lug window units in and out of the house, we had to truly make the move to better conservation of energy and air.
And this year, we’re finding ways to prepare for summer weather, hot days, and miserable heat. And we’re going in with a game plan.
In Oklahoma, air conditioning is king. In fact, it gets so hot there that it doesn’t matter if you park in shade or not, your car will be 120 degrees in the summertime and after you haul yourself inside, you bask in the glory that is literally refrigerated air. So despite wanting to be eco-friendly, I dismissed ditching my AC.
But after last year, I know going without AC is possible (while still miserable), but I definitely want to have a better grasp of making it more bearable. Plus, we are working on helping our kids understand these life skills of both conserving energy as well as preparing for weather changes.
When our kids are little, we can actually involve them in both big and small things to teach them long-term responsibility both for the care and maintenance of their home as well as to their community.
How to prep your house for hotter weather
Create a habit of opening windows during cool parts of the day.
In fact, teach your kids about creating a cross breeze across the house. If you have curtains, it’s a great visual for really young kids to be able to see the air moving in and across the house.
Every evening as a part of your summer bedtime routine, you can walk through the house and open up the windows. Then talk about how we close them as the day gets warmer the next day.
Explore your energy options.
The summer, full of sunshine, is the perfect time to see what energy sources are available in your area. So if you’re looking to go a little greener or try to improve your bill or start budgeting better, you can check out both what appliances you can upgrade to be more efficient, but also energy companies.
Look into ways you can improve the predictability of your budget can set your mind at ease, even if you have to turn on your air conditioner on the hottest days. Direct Energy, Reliant, and IGS all offer alternative energy options for your family.
Cooking is probably one of the biggest contributions to both your energy usage and heat in your home. So learning to cook differently can make a huge difference in the expensive and hot summer months.
Make it a point to grill outside as often as possible in the warmer months. Our family just grilled out for the first time in the last few weeks and while it was still a bit chilly, it’s setting a precedent for the kids to know we will be enjoying evenings outside rather than indoors in the summer.
Use your crock pot or research the differences and get an instant pot.
Place slow cookers it in your garage, basement, or attic depending on what has easiest access for you. Or use the instant pot anywhere because it has shorter cooking times and doesn’t release as much heat. Not only do they both only use pennies of energy in comparison to ovens and stoves, it also is not contributing to the heat in your living space.
As far as getting an Instant pot or electric pressure cooker, I have been able to cook even a whole chicken in mine in under 30 minutes. Obviously, a shorter time span means less energy and less heat.
Drink more water (and take water bottles with you).
If we raise our kids to drink more water and set that example for them it not only helps hydrate and keep them cool, but also cuts down on refrigeration of drinks at home and on the go. In fact, we typically have our reusable water bottles with us, but also carry along others we can pass out to those who need them.
The hot weather is the perfect opportunity to teach our children to care for those around them, give back to the community, and help the less fortunate by being able to talk about providing for people’s needs, water being our number one human need.
Use fans wisely.
Teach your kids how to maximize fan usage and use them to their advantage.
You can switch ceiling fans to run counter-clockwise to push hot air up and out. Similarly, have your kids help you position oscillating fans and box fans to blow hot air out the window.
And when you’re really hot, put a plate or bowl of ice in front of your fan to get a refrigeration effect without cranking up the air conditioning.
Switch out light bulbs and use daylight when possible.
Swap out your light bulbs for CFLs or LED lights. They use less energy and produce less heat. In the store, you can talk about energy ratings for bulbs and choose which color light coupled with its energy rating your family most wants. And again, work on not even turning on lights when possible.
Make it a point to not be wasteful with your energy usage.
There are so many ways this can be done with kids. Whether you choose to use as few electronics as possible, have a competition for how many hours you can go screen free or spend time outside, or even calculate how much energy you’re saving from unplugging items at aren’t in use.
Not only does unplugging save you money, it also cuts down on how hot your house is.
While I wouldn’t encourage young children to unplug, I would encourage the kids to be a part of the process with you. To engage them, you can draw up a map of your house and where things are plugged in that are not used continually. This can be used as you do walk-throughs with them.
Practical ways to survive the heat as a family
- Get outside, poolside, oceanside, or run through a sprinkler. (We bought a three person pool!)
- Eat cool foods like berries, light salads, nuts, and low-carbs to reduce the heaviness in your stomach.
- Keep the shades drawn in hot parts of the day if you have to be inside and open everything up in the evening.
More great ideas to survive the summer
This was previously a sponsored post by IGS Energy and has since been updated
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!