It can happen day or night…the dreaded air conditioning shut off. Much like any machine, air conditioners can break down, and they often do so at the most inconvenient times. If this happens to you, and it looks like a technician won’t be able to make it to you within the next couple of hours, don’t worry! People in the South survived for hundreds of years without air conditioning, amassing a variety of tricks for keeping cool when the heat and humidity were both unbearable. Here’s what you need to do…
Use Cotton Sheets
If your shut off occurs at night, you will want to make sure you are using cotton sheets to help keep you comfortable. Cotton is extremely breathable, and allows air to flow through the material as you sleep. It also helps to wick moisture away from your body, keeping you dry.
The Freezer is Your Friend
Remember your friend the freezer. If your shutoff has occurred at night, and you are feeling the temperature rise, take your sheets (or just the top one) and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes. You’ll end up with a luxuriously cool cover to help you drift off to sleep without issue.
But that’s not all the freezer can do. If you have an old school hot water bottle, fill it with water and put it in the freezer. Soon, you’ll have a tool for keeping your feet cool while you sleep, which also has the effect of cooling the rest of your body. And let’s not forget its all-important role of storing the always-refreshing ice cubes and ice cream for keeping us cold via tasty treats.
Fan Placement to Your Advantage
If you have ceiling fans, you will definitely want to turn them on and make sure they are spinning in a counter clockwise direction. In addition, if you have a box fan, use that to your advantage to pull hot air out of the room. Place the box fan in your window so that it’s facing outward – when it is on, it will pull hot air outside, and the ceiling fan will keep cooler air circulating throughout your room.
Old School Air Conditioning
You know those cooling sea breezes everyone is so fond of at the beach? Well, you can create your very own sea breeze in your house – all you’ll need is a fan and a tray of ice. Turn on the fan and let it blow over the ice…you’ll be feeling the refreshing breezes in no time!
Draw the Curtains
If your a/c emergency happens during the day, the first thing you should do is close your blinds or curtains. Even with high-efficiency windows, the light shining through the glass will still likely heat up your home more than it would otherwise, and every little bit counts with the temperature is inching upwards. Also, in order to keep what cool air you do have in your home, it may not be a good idea to open your windows during the heat of the day.
Make the Most of a Cross-Breeze
If your house is situated so that you get a good cross-breeze from having multiple windows or doors open, then it might be worthwhile to take advantage of the situation. Take a cotton sheet and soak it in cold water. Wring it out, and then tack it up in front of a window or door that is allowing the cross breeze in. This will cool down the air coming into the house, keeping things a little more comfortable.
Your body has a hard time regulating your temperature when it doesn’t have enough water. Plus, a delicious cold beverage will go a long way towards helping you to maintain your cool. Make sure you are consuming at least two liters of water a day, and stay away from alcoholic beverages – they tend to make you more dehydrated over time.
Take a Cool Shower
When things seem like they are just too hot to stand, it might be time to jump into a cold shower. Not only will this reduce your body temperature, but wetting your hair will also help to keep you cool after you exit the shower.
Minimize Your Appliance Usage
Appliances such as tvs, stoves, washers, dryers, and computers all put off a surprising amount of heat. If your air conditioner has konked out, it would be worthwhile to keep these appliances turned off completely, or at least minimize their usage. If you need to cook, consider using an outdoor grill, so the heat won’t be trapped in your home.
You should also be careful of turning on lights. Incandescent light bulbs put out a surprising amount of heat and can rapidly raise the temperature of a room. Keeping things darker than normal will help to maintain a reasonable temperature in your home.
It probably goes without saying, but a home without air conditioning is not a place for long sleeves and heavy fabrics. Wear whatever keeps you cool – natural fibers like cotton and linen are good choices because of their breathability. And if you have long hair, it’s time to get it up and off your neck to help reduce your body temperature.