Ode to Open Windows

People are often surprised when they find out I don’t have air-conditioning at home. But I couldn’t bear to live without open windows. And it turns out my family and I may be healthier as a result (hotter, but healthier!). A recent study done in California shows that there are almost twice as many pollutants inside our homes as there are outside…and it didn’t make a difference whether people lived in the country or the city. The bottom line is, we are all better off letting the fresh air in (and the bad stuff out).

What is the bad stuff inside our homes? Well, it’s everything from the off-gassing that our furniture, paints, and carpeting do to the air fresheners, beauty products, and cleaners we use. Even if we all try to reduce those things in our homes, I am sure that the exhaust from our refrigerators and stoves do plenty to add toxins to the air inside our homes.

Fortunately, I love to keep my windows open, especially at night. When my husband and I built our ecofreindly home five years ago, I specifically designed our bedroom as if it were a tent in the woods. There are windows on all three sides (including a door that leads to a sleeping porch), and they look out onto our woods. At night, under the pile of blankets, I can snuggle up real warm while my nose can peek out and get fresh air all night long. In the summer, when it’s really hot, we let the night gently cool us down to the sounds of crickets and the occasional screeching fox. I love waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a rainstorm (and the fresh scent of nature getting a bath—no bottle in the supermarket can ever replicate that!).

Even in the winter, keeping the window open a crack lets frosty fresh air filter into our house. I love when I can smell that snow is coming, or that someone in the neighborhood has a wood fire burning.

I feel like a good ecocitizen by not wasting energy on air-conditioning. But the truth is, I just love living without it. Even if you have it, and you need it to stay cool (I confess, our summer vacation in Tennessee would have been a lot less pleasant without it!), if the weather turns nice, turn it off and open a window. Let the fresh air in, and the bad air out.

Just as importantly, think about all you might be doing to pollute your indoor air, and how you can find less-toxic replacements. I’ll be writing about those less-toxic replacements in a future post—so let me know your ideas!

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10 Responses to Ode to Open Windows

  1. Sue says:

    my feelings exactly, thanks for expressing these thoughts

  2. WTGeorge says:

    “I love when I can smell that snow is coming, or that someone in the neighborhood has a fire burning.”–so true. We’re without air conditioning as well, in the house, and we just want to live long enough to allow all the green to grow up around us, cool and full of life.

  3. Amanda says:

    Ditto. Though our house was so poorly designed we desperately need bedroom AC in the depth of summer, we try to use it at little as possible. Nothing like the smell of rain, snow, changing seasons, etc.!

  4. alice says:

    When my daughters were toddlers, sleeping with a cracked window in the wintertime…they would snore, ha. The fresh, cold air would put them into a deeper slumber.
    In the mornings when everyone leaves, I open up the house and run all the ceiling fans to exchange the stale air. I believe it helps.

  5. Kim says:

    Amen, Maria! We live in the South and have a/c only on our bottom floor. Our upstairs, where we sleep, has open windows 3 seasons a year… and I love it. (This summer was unusually hot and a challenge, and my husband’s talking about installing central air up there… I’m hoping a fall/winter/spring of comfort will change his mind.)

  6. Donna in Delaware says:

    We use our central airconditioning system as little as possible. It really does have to get way past 88 degrees upstairs before we think about using it. Being that my husband is European, and most Europeans do not have a/c in their homes, I have gotten used to not using it over the years. There is enough dust in the house without spreading it everywhere. An open window is the best air refresher in the world, if the air outside is good.

    I too love smelling wood burning from someone’s fireplace when the air is chilled. I simply can’t wait for autumn to arrive.

  7. Merideth from So. California says:

    I have loved the windows open since I was a small child and I too will open all the windows at night cuddle in and breath the cool fresh air. I love it I do love my ac but, I will even drive my car windows open with the air on.

    Thank you for this post. I hope that the people who read it will take it to heart. Because, people need to realize that the place to start getting healthy isn’t first going to the gym but in their homes. If their homes are “toxic” they are going to have a really tough time. It’s not easy but you have to be smart how you set up your “home base” your place to relax, rest, and eat.

    This is a way of life and people need to be concious and smart about how they live and all of the different products they use.

    Happy Healthy Living!

    mj

  8. Anne says:

    I open my windows in the summer for a change of air and a crack in the winter for fresh air, to get a good night’s sleep

  9. Debbie says:

    Thanks a million for printing this article. We are on the same wavelength! My windows are open year round; all the way in the summer and 1/4 of the way in the winter and more or less depending on weather conditions… but never closed, not even during a hurricane (lol). I have found that getting a constant supply of fresh air helps me to rarely get sick, and to get a good night’s sleep, and enables me to have mental clarity! Though I’ve chosen this wise path, there’s been many obstacles along the way as in people with opposing viewpoints who try to be control freaks, as well as other obstacles. But nothing will stop me from living this way the rest of my life because I just LOVE the smell of natural fresh air (and yes, I also love the smell of snow, and can smell when it’s about to rain too)! I can even smell when it’s Indian Summer! ;>)

  10. Anne says:

    I love to put out my pillows, comforters on my clothes line to freshen them up even in the winter, that’s when you get a heavenly sleep! even, open the doors for a little change of fresh air. We are having a whopper of of snowstorm in Quebec, Canada to-day.. so, I will put a few longs in the fireplace and feel the wonderful comfort..
    Thanks Maria for your great articles. Love them all..

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