Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Air Conditioners and Making a Cardboard Playhouse

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Yesterday, for the first time in our married lives, we got air conditioners for our home. Growing up, we actually never had air conditioners, but just used fans, and were totally fine. A year or two before we moved away from Northeast Ohio, my parents installed central air conditioning in our house to increase its market value.
Then we moved abroad, and again, no air conditioning.

This September, we'll have been married 11 years, and we've never had "real" air conditioning in our house. We started off using fans when necessary, and trying to avoid using fans when those weren't necessary, to keep down our electric bills. One summer we were just so miserably hot that we bought a portable second hand air conditioner for our bedroom (we were co-sleeping at the time, so it was for the entire family). It stood up on the floor, connected to one of the windows with a pipe, and worked... sort of. During times when the fan blowing on you simply felt like a car exhaust blowing on you, this portable air conditioning unit was a welcome relief even if it didn't actually make you comfortable, but it did a terrible job of actually cooling down the room. It just made it marginally better. And we didn't have any air conditioning in the living room/dining room/kitchen. The portable unit we had was barely strong enough for our small bedroom, let alone the bigger living room/dining room/kitchen. And the children's room was built in such a way that we couldn't put any air conditioning there.
So essentially, no AC in our place.
In the winter, we used blow heaters and radiators and halogen heaters...

Yesterday we finally bought real air conditioning units that double as heaters (I think they are called split system heat pumps). The same unit warms the place in the winter as cools it in the summer. It is supposed to be the most cost efficient way to heat your home here. When we designed the layout of our new home, we had them build it with preparations already there for the air conditioning units, so we wouldn't have a large expense to install them (places for pipes and electricity).
But we spent most of the winter here without those units, since I didn't get around to ordering and installing them.

Finally on a price comparison website I found some decent pricing for these AC units. One large one for the living room/dining room/kitchen, and one small one for my bedroom. The kids' room is right near the living room/dining room and should be able to be cooled or heated from the adjacent room, but if not, we may also put the portable AC unit in there. We also put an air conditioning unit in our rental unit's living room. (They brought and installed AC units from their old home into two of the bedrooms.)

Doing our research, we learned about inverter vs regular air conditioning units, and that inverter air conditioners generally cost a lot more to buy, but tend to be cheaper to run (depending on how you use them, but especially if you use them for long periods of time- I think), as well as quieter. The original price quotes we got for inverter ACs were so much more expensive, but I managed to find an inverter unit for just $100 more than a non inverter for the size we needed. We decided to get that inverter in our living room/dining room, since that would be on more regularly, so it is most worth it for that to be more inexpensive to run. Since our tenants are paying for their own electricity, we decided to not invest in an inverter one for them. And because our bedroom is small and shouldn't take a lot of energy to cool or heat, we went with the non inverter there as well.

We didn't buy top of the line brands for our units, but spoke with a professional who advised us, and bought ones that have a decent reputation even though they are cheaper. Ours have warranties for quite a few years so even if anything happens, we're good.

Yesterday they were finally installed- we asked around and found a guy who does quality work inexpensively, and he installed all three for the same price as another guy was charging to install one unit. Added bonus- he was such a pleasant guy, happily taking the time to explain to my kids what he was doing as he was doing it.

The cool thing that I discovered about these units only after they were installed already was that they connect to the wifi in the house, so we can turn them on or off no matter where we are; if we accidentally leave it on when we leave the house, we can turn them off from our phones, and if we want the house to be a pleasant temperature when we come home, we can turn it on a little in advance. Hopefully this will make our electric bill a little lower since we won't have it on more than necessary.

The challenge now will be to not take advantage of these units all the time, and not use them just because they are there, because I don't want sky high air electric bills.

After the units were installed, we were left with 6 really large boxes (each unit came with an internal and external unit), and I wanted to take advantage of those boxes to make play things. It doesn't matter how many nice toys kids have; for some reason they just really tend to enjoy playing with cardboard boxes.

I used scissors to cut open the boxes, and tape to attach them together, and made my children a playhouse out of the boxes.

Already they've had hours of fun playing in there.

I love it.

I don't know how long we'll actually keep the box playhouse out there, as it is, by no means, strong enough to last a while... but for now it's there, and when they're done, into the trash it'll go.

Do you have air conditioning in your house? What type? If you bought air conditioning units after a long time of not having them, how drastically, if at all, did you see your utilities bills increase?
Do your kids also like to play with cardboard boxes?


  1. My kids love cardboard boxes, but we haven't had a good big one in a while!

    We live in Pennsylvania and don't have air conditioning at home. I wrote this post about how we survive, and my brother, who is a home energy auditor in Kansas, added some helpful info in the comments about those situations in which it actually makes sense to use air conditioning.

    I hope your heat pumps work well for you in all seasons!

  2. really happy you got ac. we also didnt have for many years, but we moved to an extremely hot area, so needed.might sound weird, but to keep price down, try to use fans in the summer,.maybe u can invest in ceiling fans. they also work well and moves around the air. at least you know on those really uncomfortable days, you will have some relief.

  3. Happy to hear you'll be able to cool off this summer. I'm in America which you know almost every house built 1980's and beyond has central heat & air. So we turn the air on only when it gets too muggy. I bought my home because it's in a very shaded spot. Tree's all around but not close to the house, just old trees, very tall, lots of shade. One cooler summer we only used the A/C about 10 days all summer. Prefer having the windows and doors open whenever possible.

    Now play boxes....reminds me of my daughter when she was 2. I got her some big toy (can't remember now) but the box it came, she slept in it, played in it for about a year before we ended up moving and used it to pack up her toys.

    Everyone is so busy trying to buy the latest, greatest fad for the little ones, they forget that some of the best things in life for a child is dirt, sticks, leaves, pebbles, boxes and lots of imagination.

  4. Gosh that sounds nice, being able to live without AC. Down here, 90-something is a pretty cool day. During spring and fall, we can open windows at night and blow air in, and keep it... less-hot during the day... but there's no hope for summer. Alabama is hot and muggy :(

    And this year, we just kind of skipped spring and went straight to summer...


    for like the 3rd year in a row... and we're looking to break record highs. Again. like we've been doing for the last couple years. But I'm sure it's nothing to be concerned about.

    Bought a new AC last year. It's doing good at saving money.


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