While most of us have the luxury of living with central air, some of us live with portable air conditioners that may not be reliable or produce less-than-perfect cooling. There is a smaller group reading this who may not have any air conditioning at all. If you are one of those people, we must congratulate you for your immense strength and ability to persevere in the hot Southern summer! Lesser people might melt in the face of such heat.
If you are someone dealing with imperfect or no air conditioning, it’s likely that you are always searching for a way to keep the heat at bay. Not to worry – if our grandparents did it, you can too (although we do have cooling system options that we’d be glad to discuss with you). For those faced with the prospect of a long, hot summer ahead, here are some options for staying cool during the worst the weather can offer.
1. Keep Your Blinds Closed During the Day
The number one way most homes end up with an excess of hot air is through windows. While many modern windows are energy efficient and prevent radiant heat from becoming a problem, older windows do the opposite. When the sun is shining directly through the glass from the past, radiant heat from the sun is amplified, filling your home with unwanted warmth.
The easiest way to prevent this problem is to keep your blinds or drapes closed. You will be surprised at how much cooler your home is when you prevent sunlight from getting in during the summer months.
2. Stay Hydrated
Humans cool off via sweat, and we sweat more than you might imagine. You may not always notice it, however – a little sweat on the skin evaporates quickly, and that evaporation process leaves you feeling cooler. If you’re not hydrated, though, your body won’t have the resources necessary to produce sweat, making it harder to stay cool.
Keep a bottle of water with you always during the hotter months of the year. Bonus points if you keep your water in the freezer then let it melt throughout the day – the ice-cold liquid will also help you stay cool and comfortable when the temperature outside is unbearable.
3. Find A New Use for Old-Fashioned Water Bottles
Remember those old-fashioned hot water bottles that used to be so popular before the invention of heating pads? It’s time to give them a new purpose. Fill some of those bottles with water, pop them in the freezer overnight, and wake up to cooling pads for use around your home. Sitting on the couch watching some TV? Take a frozen bottle, wrap it in a towel, and place it behind your lower back for instant cooling relief. The same can be done when it’s time to go to bed – it’s like having your own personal air conditioner that follows you around.
4. Make the Most of a Cross-Breeze
If you have windows that receive good air flow throughout the day, make sure you keep them open to enjoy the breeze. This works even better, however, if there are enough windows to open to take advantage of a cross-breeze. The wind actively flowing through multiple windows will help to avoid that stagnant air feeling, which is the worst part of dealing with air that is just too hot.
If you don’t have two windows to open, use a fan to simulate the power of a cross-breeze. It will make the room seem much more bearable in the heat of the summer.
5. Follow Some Advice from Grandma
This is an old trick, but a good one – if you have some old cotton bedsheets laying around, or have drapes that are cotton or linen, take the fabric and dip the ends in ice cold water. After letting them soak for a bit, hang the curtains up in front of a window or door with a breeze. The water will wick up the fabric and there will be a cooling sensation from the wind blowing through the water on the drapes.
6. Skip Turning on the Oven
If your home is hotter than you-know-what, cooking on an oven isn’t going to help. If you know the weather is set to be hot for the week, plan your meals using things that don’t have to be cooked or can be cooked outside on a grill. This will keep your house comfortable and free of excess heat.
7. Treat Yourself
While no one wants to overdo it with the sweets, now is not the time to develop a sudden fear of weight gain from ice cream. When the temperature of the air goes up, the temperature of your food should go down. Treat yourself to some frozen goodies – if you’re not interested in ice cream, try popsicles, sorbet, or even frozen fruit.
Have a blender? Even better – it’s time to mix yourself up some frozen beverages, but watch the alcohol content. Alcohol will make you dehydrated, which will defeat the purpose of drinking more liquids.
8. Dine Al Fresco
If it’s just too darn hot inside, you might as well enjoy the great outdoors. Sometimes our homes can get hotter than we realize, and getting outdoors helps to cool us off. Set up a place to hang out and eat dinner in a shady spot outdoors. Invite some friends over and make a party out of it – it’s hard to stay upset over a lack of air conditioning when enjoying good conversation.
9. Switch to Cotton or Linen Sheets
Kick that polyester, jersey, and flannel right out of your bed – now is not the time for these fabrics. During summer months, try switching to 100% cotton percale or linen sheets. These fabrics work double time at wicking away moisture while allowing air to flow freely through the weave of the cloth. You will be amazed at how much more comfortable you will be using these sheets.
Bonus tip – take your sheets and put them in the freezer before bedtime. You’ll stay cool and fall asleep before you know it.
10. Take a Cold Bath
A cold shower might seem like the answer, but even a cold shower can lead to increased humidity in your home. A better option? Take a cold bath. Soaking in the cold tub is kind of like enjoying a cold swimming pool on a hot summer’s day, and it won’t add extra moisture to the air in your house. Add some essential oils like peppermint and receive an additional cooling sensation!