Friend on phone: I’m calling because I figured you’d be the person to ask. My air conditioner is quitting on me, and it would cost thousands to get a new one. I’m seriously thinking of not replacing it. Did you tell me you’ve gone without air conditioning before?
Me: Not only have I gone without air conditioning; I have never voluntarily used air conditioning in my adult life. And, you would be surprised how easily the body adjusts. In two or three weeks without a/c, your temperature envelope will have shifted, and after a while, you might start to need long sleeves when the temperature gets below 80! And with the a/c gone, you won’t have to worry about that family member you’ve been having trouble with, who comes and stays for weeks on end and doesn’t contribute any money for bills.
Her: Hmm, good point! That’d be a bonus. Well, I’m going to give it a try. I’m worried about mold and mildew though.
Me: Open the windows. Get rid of the carpet; just use scatter rugs in winter to insulate your feet from the cold bare floor. And don’t try to own too many leather shoes or bags.
Me on phone: Hi, I need an air conditioner removed. How much would you charge?
A/C company: Removed? Are you getting a new one?
Me: No. I don’t use a/c. I want it gone and the freon properly disposed of.
A/C company: This is literally the most bizarre request I’ve ever heard. You are talking about trying to live without air conditioning in Florida???
Me: Not trying; I already do. It’s actually not a big deal. I didn’t move to Florida to be cold!
A/C company: But – Aren’t you worried about mold and mildew?
Me: Never had it, except for one pair of leather boots that broke out in mildew some years back. [Note: And they were not ruined. I seem to recall I just cleaned them off with a dilute vinegar solution and then oiled them, and they lasted me several more years.]
A/C company: But what about when you sell your house?
Me: The new owners can get themselves an air conditioner if they want. Anyway, I’m not selling my house. I live here.
A/C company: But if the unit isn’t broken, why not just let it stay there?
Me: Ummm, it’s ugly and it’s taking up space. I want to put a bird bath or a rainbarrel there.
A/C company: Unmmmm OK I’ll ask our guys if they can do this.
(She got back to me the next day, but I had already found another licensed a/c professional, who came right over, captured the freon for proper disposal, and had the unit removed. The photo above shows my new birdbath occupying the freed-up space. Now that I have a birdbath in my yard (will be adding more water sources over time, but this is a start), I can apply to the National Wildlife Federation to get my yard certified as wildlife habitat. To find out how you can do the same, see the link at the end of this post.)
Me: I have a question. Mold, this mold that people say is such a problem if you don’t run the a/c … I’ve never had any! At least I’ve never seen any. Other than one pair of leather boots that got covered with mildew overnight one time. If there were mold, where would it be?
My neighbor who has done some handyman jobs for me: Well, if you had any damp areas of your house. And if you didn’t open the windows. Or maybe if you had carpet. Or closets jammed with shoes and clothes.
Me: Mmkay, I’m probably safe.
[Note: A good friend of mine, who also lives without a/c in Florida by the ocean, says she has on occasion had a bit of mildew on an item of clothing or shoes that were jammed into the back corner of a closet. But it was only on occasion, and the stuff was fine. So even if you have a lot of clothes and shoes, it’s do-able.]
On the subject of wildlife habitat, and getting your yard or balcony certified, the National Wildlife Federation website says, “Rapid and large-scale changes to our lands and waters mean wildlife are losing the habitats they once knew. Every habitat garden is a step toward replenishing resources for wildlife such as bees, butterflies, birds, and amphibians—both locally and along migratory corridors.“ Visit this NWF page to learn more and find out how to get your yard certified.
And, for tips on living without air conditioning if you want to try it, check out this post I wrote awhile back.