Are you living somewhere with no air conditioning or on a tight budget and want to keep those utility bills down? Maybe you just want to live a little “greener” this summer. As it starts to heat up, here are 6 easy tricks to keep your cool without turning on that AC.
1. Use Fans
These do use electricity, but much less than air conditioners. Fans come in all shapes and sizes to fit any space. The trick with fans is that they don’t actually make the air cooler, but just cool people. The reason they help you feel cool is because they create a “wind chill” factor by blowing across your skin. So, no need to keep the fan on when you’re not around.
2. Make Your Own Air Conditioner
For a more extreme fan experience, you can actually make your own air conditioner with just salt, ice, and a fan. Get a handful of bottled waters at the store. Open them up and add 2-3 tablespoons of salt to each bottle. Close them and freeze them solid. Before going to bed, or whenever you most need to cool off, place the frozen bottles onto a serving tray or baking pan and set them in front of a standard box or room fan. The action of the fan blowing past the bottles will send extra cool air your way. (Why the salt, you ask? Salt actually decreases the freezing point of water, so frozen salt water is a few degrees colder than frozen fresh water!)
3. Create Less Heat
Lots of things we do in our homes create heat without us thinking much about it. The big culprit is the stove or oven. Try focusing on cold foods (which can cool you from the inside, too!) or cook with a microwave or outdoor grill.
Other less obvious heat makers include most lights, the television, and electronics. (Ever feel your laptop get really warm in your lap?) Also, steam producing things like hot showers, hot dishes, and warm laundry can make a home feel much hotter. Try doing your heat-producing activities at night when it’s cooler outside. Hot days are also a great excuse to air-dry your laundry. It’s good for the clothes, good for the environment, and helps keep your space cool!
4. Keep the Heat Out
It takes a little work, but simply adjusting your curtains or blinds can make a huge difference in your comfort. During the day, starting as early as you can feel any heat from the sun, close all windows and shades to keep that solar heat out. Then when things cool down in the evening, open all the shades and windows wide to let the cooler outside air act as a natural air conditioner.
You can get extra cooling power by hanging a wet sheet over that open window. The evaporation acts to cool things more quickly than just the wind. Or, secure a box fan in the window to blow cool air in overnight.
5. Soak in the Cool
Water has a cooling effect. Remember running through sprinklers in the summer as a kid? This is a practical way to deal with hot days. The water itself is usually cooler than our bodies, and as it evaporates off our skin, it actually cools us more. Check out your local pool to submerge completely, run sprinklers in your yard, or even just drape a wet bandana around your neck. At night, if you don’t mind bringing a little water to bed, try dampening a wash cloth and placing it over your belly or neck to enjoy the cooling effect as you fall asleep.
6. Escape to Cooler Spots
If you have access to a basement, use it! Put your mattresses or couch as low in your space as possible, since heat rises. Even moving from the second story to the first will make a difference. During the day, check out free local places like museums or libraries where you can spend time cooling off in their air conditioning before venturing back into the heat.