Sweltering summer temperatures can make it tempting to seek the relief of air conditioning for your home, but if you’re like me, you hate the idea of a soaring electricity bill, and the thought of adding more greenhouse gases to the environment. Here are some great ways to reduce your dependence on air conditioning, while helping you to stay cool this summer.
Keep the sun out: The summer sun can be intense and will quickly heat things up. Block it out during the day by keeping curtains and blinds drawn and the windows shut during peak heat hours. But once the sun goes down and temperatures begin to drop, open things up and let the cooler evening air in.
Get creative with fans: Sometimes it feels like a fan just blows the hot air around, but if used effectively, they can do a lot to offer relief. Try these tips:
Change ceiling fan settings so the blades run counter-clockwise. This will help pull hot air up and out to the sides, rather than just twirling it around the centre of the room.
Position a shallow pan or bowl full of ice in front of a fan. The blowing air will pick up cold water from the ice surface to create a cooling mist.
Point a box fan to blow air out of a window to help push hot air out of your home. If you have two fans and windows at either end of your home, position one fan pointing inward, and the other fan to blow out, to help push air through your home.
But, don’t forget to shut your fans off when you’re away, to avoid paying to power them when you don’t need to.
Unplug: Limit your use of heat-generating appliances during the day, such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, computers and more, and use them in nighttime instead as they can add to the temperature of your home. Don’t forget to turn out the lights too, as bulbs can really give off heat.
Change your cooking habits: Avoid using your stove, and nix the hot, heavy meals. Smaller portions of cooler foods – like salads, fruits and raw vegetables – will not only feel more refreshing, they will be easier to metabolize – meaning your body won’t produce as much heat during the digestion process.
Get low: Warm air rises, so get as low as you can. Spend more time in your basement if you have one, or sleep on the floor.
Ice ice baby: Keep your freezer stocked with ice and ice packs. Adding ice to a cool drink, or applying a cold compress to pulse points (at the wrists, ankles, neck and behind the knees) will help you cool down quickly. Also consider keeping a spray bottle filled with ice water handy, and mist yourself every now and then.
Change your bedding: Swap out your winter flannel, silk and satin sheets for linens made of light-weight cotton that are more breathable and better at promoting ventilation. For added coolness, consider putting your sheets in the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes before bedtime. It won’t last all night, but it should last long enough for you to fall asleep. For longer relief, fill a hot water bottle with cold water and place it at your feet.
Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water during hot weather to help replenish fluids lost by sweating. Not getting enough water can lead to dehydration, and then potentially to more serious heat-related illnesses.