Air filters, portable air conditioners fans and more — surviving a smoky summer requires electricity. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Air filters, portable air conditioners fans and more — surviving a smoky summer requires electricity. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Hot household was just one fuse away from total meltdown

Lost electricity during the heatwave and wildfires turned their whir of multiple fans and air filters into heated silence.

Wildfire smoke, temperature spikes and germs everywhere — this summer has been one for the books. After the horrible heatwave in June, I thought I’d learned a thing or two. When the thermostat rose last weekend, I was prepared. “Don’t worry,” I told my family. “We’ll be fine this time.” Or so I thought…

As soon as I read reports that there would be a double whammy of heat and wildfire smoke, I brought out my arsenal of heat shields that I’d been accumulating underneath my bed. Those included blackout curtains I had purchased from Amazon and insulated cardboard packaging material that had come in my meal-prep boxes.

I spent Thursday morning blacking out windows and pulling down shades. I also loaded up the chest freezer in our garage with gallons of water. That way we could blow fans across ice.

It turns out that the temperature in our house never got high enough for ice to be necessary. The blackout materials did their trick, but our best tool was the new portable air conditioner we set up in the family room. Between the AC unit, the air filters and fans, our house sounded like a helicopter landing pad. Still, even though our house was in the low 80s, it was much more bearable than the smoky outdoors.

Friday night, my husband and I popped a bottle of champagne and declared victory. No, we hadn’t spent $7,000 to install real air conditioning in our house, but our hodgepodge of other improvements had worked. We wedged a stack of magazines underneath the air conditioner unit to keep it from rattling so loud and turned on Netflix.

But halfway through “Red Joan” starring Judi Dench, disaster struck. Our daughter plugged in her hairdryer and everything went dark.

From the whir of multiple fans and filters to total silence, the electricity crapped out on us. “Oops! Sorry,” our daughter called, but it was too late.

“I’ll go pop the circuit breaker in the bathroom.” I rose from the couch, a little wobbly after my glass of champagne.

“That should do it,” said my husband.

Unfortunately, both of us were wrong. Yes, we brought the electricity back to life, but the Wi-Fi was dead. There went movie night. Without the internet, our entertainment options crumbled one by one.

I gave up after 10 minutes of trying to bring the Wi-Fi back online, but my husband kept at it until midnight. He finally determined that the internet wasn’t coming into the house because a power outlet in the beastly hot garage had been triggered by the breaker.

Once he fixed that, the internet was saved.

The next morning, as I sat in our darkened family room next to the precariously perched air conditioner unit, I thought about our new reality. Some people might say hope has kept people going these past two years, but I know the truth: It’s been the electricity and Wi-Fi.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

Talk to us

More in Life

Keith Stocker poses for a portrait at Stocker Farms in Snohomish, Washington on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish tree farm brings Christmas spirit, one seedling at a time

At Stocker Farms, it can take a decade to grow the perfect tree. All you have to do is pick the right one.

Collius_boys.jpg: Carolea’s father Collius (Jay Jenkins, center) has selected Ambrosius (Ian Wight, right) as his choice for his daughter, but she is in love with Nectarean (Josias Allestad) in Red Curtain’s production of “A MidWinter Night’s Dream,” Dec. 1-23.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

”A Midwinter Night’s Dream” opens Friday at Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.

Siblings Qingyun, left, and Ruoyun Li, 12 and 13, respectively, are together on campus at Everett Community College on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The two are taking a full course load at the community college this semester. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Siblings, age 12 and 13, are youngest students at EvCC campus

Qingyun Li was 11 when he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test. His sister, Ruoyun, was one point away.

A family walks through the Wintertide lights Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Legion Park in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Wintertide Lights returns for the month of December in Everett

The free family event is open nightly at Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Legion Park.

Leslie Davis, left, and Lyndsay Lamb, stars of "Unsellable Houses." (Rachael Jones / HGTV)
‘Unsellable Houses’ seeks flippable Snohomish County homes for Season 5

Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb are searching for homeowners for next season’s one-hour episodes, where houses go from stagnant to sold.

Viking promised him a flight, but now it’s asking for another $600

Brent Richter books a Viking cruise from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but now the cruise line wants another $600 from him. Can he get a refund, or does he have to pay?

Rick Steves’ Europe: Oslo’s seafaring sights evoke the Viking spirit

Anyone with Viking ancestry can enjoy a shiver of adrenaline sailing across the Oslofjord to Bygdøy.

2024 Hyundai Kona Limited FWD (Hyundai)
2024 Hyundai Kona Limited FWD

The Hyundai Kona Limited has been updated for the 2024 model year, but thankfully, retains its quirkiness.

Early 20th century Puffy lamps don’t need to be on to brighten up a room

With three-dimensional designs painted on the shade, lamps like this don’t need darkness to provide decorative value.

Great Plant Pick: Heritage birch

also called white bark river birch, or betula… Continue reading

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness comes with raised ladder-type roof rails and Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness gives the compact more capability

Upgraded suspension, 9.3 inches of ground clearance and a reengineered drivetrain are among the changes.

The Vienna State Opera hosts performances in the evening and tours during the day. (Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Rick Steves’ Europe: Exploring the musical soul of Austria

In Vienna, there are always plenty of ways to enjoy great music … on any budget.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.