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Surviving the heat — without AC

Staff writer

Without central air in their home at 1761 Remington Road west of Marion, the Thornhill family is relying on survival materials:

  • a kiddie pool
  • a mister connected to their garden hose
  • an attic fan
  • industrial strength individual fans
  • lots of well water
  • push pops and other ice cream novelties
  • bandanas stuffed with plant gel, cooled in water.

Even with these devices, Shana Thornhill said, it has been unbearable to sleep in their country home the past few weeks, with triple-digit temperatures yielding to night temperatures in the mid-80s.

“I love my husband dearly but it’s too hot,” Thornhill said of kicking her husband, Scott, out of bed.

Thornhill said the young family bought the residence on Remington because they fell in love with its charm, especially the organic garden originally planted by Harry and Margie Bennett. The Thornhills share the Bennett’s ideals — a desire to preserve the environment by consuming fewer fossil fuels.

However, the Thornhills worried about their children, Kaitlyn, 5, and Arthur, 3, in the intense heat.

Last Wednesday, they had heating and cooling pumps installed in two bedrooms in their home. Thornhill said the pumps have made a 10 to 15 degree difference in their home.

“We want to protect the environment that way; we try to keep the place as organic as possible, but we also have to live.” Thornhill said.

She said the extreme heat has affected areas around their house as well. Their horses are losing weight, all the corn in their garden has died, and trees around their home have been dropping branches.

“It was bad enough that we looked forward to when it got to 95,” Thornhill said.

Fred Putroff Jr. has also gone without air-conditioning at his country home outside of Marion most of this summer. His air-conditioning unit broke and he said he does not have the money to fix the machine.

But, Putroff was defiant in his choice to go without the modern comfort of air-conditioning. He said it connects him to an older generation — his grandpartents — that never had air-conditioning.

“Most people live without it,” Putroff said of the world population. “It’s not as bad as people make it out to be. People can survive if they just plan; not sitting around and whining about it.”

Putroff’s plan includes cold baths and an attic fan.

Some people have not had a choice; going without air-conditioning was an extreme discomfort and even dangerous.

The employees and parishioners at Valley United Methodist Church had been sweating inside the Church from July 10 through July 23 when their air-conditioning system was broken.

“In our sanctuary, there’s no way to open windows,” administrative assistant Karen Williams said. “You just roast.”

Williams has worried about parishioners on both ends of the age spectrum — children and the elderly.

The first week the air-conditioning was out, the Church hosted a Ready for Kindergarten event. Organizer Patty Putter spent a lot of time outside with the preschool children at Central Park.

There was a concern for elderly parishioners during services, although Williams said they handled the steamy conditions better than younger Churchgoers.

Jim Davis fixed the air-conditioning for the sanctuary for service July 23.

“We had this sense of relief in the sanctuary,” Williams said.

So far Marion residents have dealt with the heat wave as best as they can; however, Marion County was on track Tuesday for a record high temperature.

Last modified Aug. 3, 2011

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