The Heat Yer Buns Challenge…

by heather

7690151Do you all remember the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge? It was first started by the wonderful Crunchy over at Crunchy Chicken.

I took the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge myself this year, with a goal of keeping my home heated at 63 degrees by day and 59 degrees at night. And I’m happy to say that except for a few minor setbacks, I did it!

I was thinking today, though, why don’t we keep it going? Crunchy’s Freeze Yer Buns Challenge was an awesome idea, so why not start a “Heat Yer Buns” Challenge for the summer and resolve to keep our A/C turned down just like we did with our heat?

My Home Has ZERO A/C

It is possible to live without any A/C. I know because I do it every year. My home, which was built in 1910, has no air conditioning. And I wouldn’t install it even if I had an extra $8,000 lying around.

Granted, I do live in Michigan, so we don’t get very many 100 degree + days. But, it can get fairly hot in the summer, and most days stay in the 80’s. But we do just fine without air conditioning. We keep the windows open 24/7, and use fans in whatever room we’re in.

But you want to know the coolest thing (no pun intended)?

In the summertime, my electric bill is usually around $10.

No that’s not a typo. My monthly electric bill in July, August, and September usually hovers around the $10 mark. This is because we use CFLs, natural light, and zero air conditioning.  We also hardly watch TV in the summer because we’re outside doing stuff.

Save Money and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Reducing or Eliminating Your A/C

Air conditioners use an incredible amount of energy. Most central A/C units use a whopping 3500 watts per hour. This means that your local power plant (which probably uses coal as its primary source of power) must expend even more energy to keep up with this increased need in the summer. Translation: more coal is burned to keep up with demand.

Air conditioners, just like your car and your dryer, also put emit carbon into the atmosphere directly, which adds to the global warming problem.

And, it’s just downright expensive to use them. Cutting down or eliminating your air conditioning use this summer will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also save you a significant amount of money.

The Heat Yer Buns Challenge…

So what’s my challenge? Well, I came up with several options here:

  • Tier 1 Challenge- This is the Gold Standard of challenges. Tier 1 means you without A/C entirely. Open your windows, and breathe in the fresh air! It’s so wonderful to hear the birds and feel the breeze of summertime. Living with the windows open is my favorite part of summer.
  • Tier 2 Challenge- Think of this as the Silver Standard. Turn off your A/C during the day, and have it kick on when everyone gets home in the afternoon or evening. Or, you could also pick 2 or 3 “No A/C Days”, and go without it entirely.
  • Tier 3 Challenge- Tier 3 is the Bronze Standard. Here, resolve to turn your A/C up by at least 4 degrees. You can offset this by using a fan, which makes you feel 4 degrees cooler than it actually is. Fans use a fraction of the energy an A/C uses.

Last Word…

What do you guys think? Want to jump on board with the Challenge? If so, what Tier will fit with you and your family? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


Tiffany April 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

Woohoo! I get a gold medal too!

I live in Colorado, and while most people don’t think of CO as a hot place, believe me, it gets really hot in the summer. We lived for years without AC (miserably), and finally broke down and installed a swamp cooler, thinking it would be a little better at least. Let me tell you, it’s AMAZING! It uses as much electricity as a fan, and a little water pump. Once my parents were babysitting when we had a date night (July), and when we came home, they were shivering on the couch. Couldn’t find the switch to turn the thing off. It was like 60 degrees in the house and 90 outside. They opened the door and windows just to let some warm air in. Ha!

shona~LALA dex press April 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

11 years later I’m still not used to the sweltering summers in the south, although I don’t live in the deep south, so it could always be worse. We are having some work done on our 1932 cottage + one thing on the immediate list is to get the transoms to open + use them! They have been painted shut with no telling how many layers. Also installing more ceiling fans. I love our neighborhood, but unfortunately I don’t know if I would be able to get a good night’s sleep with the windows open at night. I guess this is silver standard level

Brenda Pike April 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm

We lived in an apartment with central air for a little over a year and I was amazed at how expensive it was. For the first time in my life my energy use in the summer was more than in the winter (in Boston, no less!). Now we just have a ceiling fan in the bedroom and one in the living room—and good air flow through the house—and we’re good. I’m amazed at how efficient the ceiling fans are.

Melissa April 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Hmm…wonder if you are aware that you’re talking to Texans via your blog? People who live with the reality that some days, it’s impossible to cool your house even with your AC blasting non-stop all day? Last summer during a heat wave that lasted for 6 weeks, my AC never cooled my house below 90 degrees during the hours between 3 pm – 10 pm, even though it ran without ceasing. I’ll just say that I laughed out loud when reading this.

queenstuss April 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I’m interested how much your electricity costs per unit? Where I live (in Australia) I rarely use air-conditioning and never use heating, only have CFL bulbs when necessary, but my electricity costs a lot more than $10 per quarter!
We don’t have gas cooking or solar hot water in our house either, maybe that makes a difference, too?

RenaissanceRonin April 16, 2010 at 7:51 pm


How do you deal with all the “hot air” in your house?

Does “A” make you take a vow of silence? 😉

It’s easy for YOU to live without air conditioning in the summer, because you don’t see a whole season of 100 degree days. So…

I think that you need to make up a Regional award system.

Me? I’m in “hot pursuit” of that “Tin” award. The one you get for thinking about getting up to turn down the A/C, but you never quite make it out of the recliner… 🙂

Wha? You think I’m gonna risk spilling my frosty cold beverage? You’re nuts! 🙂

Bobbi April 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

I’m on board. I live in Florida so I will probably have to go for the Bronze though. I will try for Silver too. 🙂 Thanks!

Jean April 17, 2010 at 9:11 am

Like you I live in an older house with no AC. I also live in Wisconsin within a few miles of lake Michigan so in summer much of the time I get natural AC in the form of a wind off the lake which even at the height of summer is only 70 degrees.

Even if I didn’t live near the lake I would never use AC. For most of the year here in Wisconsin I must live shut up indoors because it is cold so I love it when I can open windows and feel a fresh breeze and hear the birds.

I can still remember one hot humid summer day with no breeze when I was running around in the house busy with things I no longer can remember when I heard a mourning dove cooing outside. Just that simple sound, that I would never have heard with the windows shut and the AC on, made me slow down and take stock of what I was doing and know it was time to do less.

R Dieker April 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I would say we will be Tier 2. We have real time pricing on our electric. This means it changes hourly. We will try to use when it is the cheapest. This means at times it is the coolest. Wish us luck. It worked well over the winter but summer will be much more difficult.

Morgan April 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm

This would be a wonderful challenge if I didn’t live in hell on earth, aka Phoenix. What we will do, however, is go Tier 2 at night. It’s definitely better than running the air conditioner 24/7. Maybe we could even go Tier 1 at night – we’ll see!

Jennifer April 19, 2010 at 11:36 am

I live in North Carolina, where we’ve already had two days over ninety degrees (granted, it was in that freak heat wave two weeks ago)… Air conditioning is pretty important here at least three months out of the year–particularly with high humidity, when it can cause mold growth!–but we do keep it set above 76 degrees (usually 78) and use ceiling fans upstairs.

heather April 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to everyone for writing in about this! Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond; I’ve been away visiting my family in Louisiana and just got in late last night.

@Melissa- I know that people all over the world read this blog. And I’m aware that not everyone lives in a climate where turning off the A/C entirely is feasible or comfortable.

But, let me say this…I grew up in Louisiana, and my family lives there still. When I was growing up there were many afternoons and nights that I turned off the A/C (it was always too cold for me!) and felt just fine with open windows and fans. When my dad was growing up (in Louisiana) his house had no A/C at all. We’ve talked about it at length and while he remembers the summers being hot, it wasn’t unbearable.

This is because the houses, back then, were designed to be cool without A/C. There was cross ventilation, high ceilings, fans, and plenty of shade trees. Plus, people spent more time outdoors anyway.

I think we’ve become so accustomed to being “comfortable” that we’ve lost the ability to thrive in temperatures past 80 degrees.

I know not everyone can, or has the desire, to cut off their A/C. Especially the sick and the elderly. I simply wrote this post to give everyone a chance to think about the alternative of using less, or turning it off entirely.

heather April 20, 2010 at 8:30 am

@queenstuss- Our bills come monthly, not quarterly, here in the States. We’re paying $10 per month during the summer months, which would come to around $30 or a bit more per quarter. And we pay around .09 cents per kWh. Thanks for your question! 🙂

queenstuss April 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Wow, I think our electricity costs us around 15c per kWh! We pay $180 per quarter, plus hot water which is on a cheaper tariff!
We live in the tropics, so we have higher bills during summer because we run the fans all day and night, but we also have a weeks straight of rain where I just can’t avoid using the dryer.

Compromised April 21, 2010 at 8:29 am

My family suffers from SEVERE environmental allergies. We can not open our windows all year for fear of asthma attacks, hives, or facial swelling. We have found that insulated curtains or shades are a huge help keeping the cool in. We keep the ceiling fans on high and the air conditioning around 79. We have a Southern exposure so we get a lot of sun. During the day we keep all the blinds closed. On the days I just need to see a little light I adjust my wooden blinds to allow light but reflect the direct sun. We also moved all the toys to the basement which is naturally cool. We live in an extremely humid area and have found these things help a great deal. We also grill all our food so the oven doesn’t heat the house. We’ll also crockpot to reduce heating the house.

Melanie Bickham April 24, 2010 at 1:11 am

First let me start by saying, I am up for the challange, I am going for the gold. Next to the people that live in the”deep south” and to the ones in Texas, I am a born and breed Texan, Have been here 30+ years since my birth. My grandmothers house that I grew up in didn’t have A/C, and Yes before you say it I know the summers have gotten hotter here, but still… My family and I have gone without A/C for the past 2 summers, and no before you ask I do not live in the panhandle regions, i live in the Mid-south region of Texas about an hour from the DFW area. We get hot here, but since we are outside most of the time it doesn’t affect us as badly. Other than the lower electric bills, which by the way got my first official “spring/summer” bill today and guess what less than a hundred dollars, that is with a septic system, computers, appliances, and kids that can’t remember to turn off lights. I am betting that it will be even lower as the summer progresses. Oh and by the way we don’t us A/C in our cars either.

Christie May 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm

We decided to take the challenge at the Bronze level (live in AZ, can’t really survive otherwise!). We have increased the thermostat to 84 during the day and 83 at night. We had 95 degree temps this weekend and managed to spend the whole weekend (sleeping not included) without the A/C on. And it really wasn’t hard at all. As long as the fans are on and we are not too active, you don’t really even notice. Now ask me again when it’s 115 outside and I’m sure you’ll get a different answer.

I can’t wait to see how/if this affects our electric bill this summer. Thanks for the motivation!

Jacquie June 2, 2010 at 5:31 pm

This is awesome! I used to live in Phoenix with my parents before moving to school, but even in the dead hot of summer (sometimes even past 120 degrees F!!) my mom always insisted that the A/C never be turned up higher than a certain point (which I can’t remember at the moment). And when no one was home, it was off. Yes, it was a little crazy at times, because it was SO HOT, and our friends didn’t want to come to our house to play (haha), but we survived… And saved $ and the earth at the same time. I didn’t really mind it, actually. And now, I have moved up north, where this past winter, we got almost 5 feet of snow! Guess what – I have turned into my mother! We (my roommates & I) decided to see how long we could go without turning on the heat this winter… Well, it is now summer and we are still going! That’s right, we NEVER turned it on… And somehow, our apartment was always a pleasant temperature. Don’t know how we did it, but we sure saved a lot of green!! We haven’t touched the thermostat in a year, and we’re looking forward to continue to ignore that thing!

Catherine Chandler July 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I’m joining in on this….we’ll probably be at the silver or bronze level, mostly because my partner “runs warm” as it is, and gets insanely hot in the summer. Luckily, in Portland, we only have a handful of 100+ days and the rest are at the 90’s or lower (mostly 80’s). This summer’s been slow to start, so we’ve not had heating or a/c on at all and I revel in our lower electric bills. However, this week heats up FAST taking a 10 degree jump by tomorrow. I’m not going to mention the A/C to my partner, in hopes he won’t break it out too quick. In all his earnest cooling interests, we now have two window A/C’s, which he loves and I tolerate. During the summer we do a dance of him turning them on, me turning them off, back and forth back and forth.

This summer, I’m insisting on less A/C and more fans. I want to get some vintage fans this weekend (I like to buy used/vintage to lower my footprint) and hopefully he’ll be on board.

CJ July 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm


Great to find this – we have a 2nd home in the Bahamas where EVERYONE has ac – we built our house to catch the breezes, have fans and yeah it gets hot – but the ocean is there, can sleep with the doors open and listen to the waves – so not installing ac and guess we get a gold star!

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