With the dog days of summer in full effect, your house might feel like a ring of fire and you may have decided that this will be the year you make good on your vow to move to Antarctica. But don’t pack your bags just yet. Whether you don’t have an air conditioner by design or due to financial constraints, it’s still possible to cool down your home and feel comfortable even when the temperatures reach the triple digits. The following tips will help you stay cool.
1. Block out the sun. Take a page out of a vampire’s book and block sunlight with heavy curtains to keep your house cool during the daytime. Bill Davis, the general manager of Anna’s Linens in Los Angeles, California, suggests using triple-lined or foam-backing curtains to keep the heat out. “Place the curtains on the side of the house where the most sun comes through,” he says. Factors such as window size and the closeness of nearby buildings will affect how much sunlight your home receives.
2. Keep the windows closed during the day. It’s time for a pop quiz. During the day, should you open your windows to take advantage of a breeze? And the answer is…no. While you might be tempted to open windows to get any sort of breeze, keep them closed during the day to prevent more hot air from coming inside your home. Open the windows at night to take advantage of the cooler air and to facilitate cross-ventilation.
3. Avoid using your dryer during the day. While you might want to do a quick load of laundry during the day, running your dryer can create more heat, thus needlessly making your home hotter and more uncomfortable. If possible, dry your clothes in the early morning or late at night when the heat outside isn’t as intense. Or better yet, skip the dryer completely and line dry your laundry.
4. Ice ice baby. Brandi Little from the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, says that drinking plenty of cool fluids will help you keep cool in the heat. “Drink plenty of cold water throughout the day, but avoid beverages with caffeine or alcohol, as they will dehydrate you,” says Little. She also suggests dressing in light, cool clothing when inside. Taking a cool shower will also help you feel more comfortable. If you can’t take a shower, try applying a wash cloth dampened with cool water to your arms, legs and forehead for a quick cool off.
5. If you can’t stand the heat, then stay out of the kitchen. Don’t use the oven to prepare meals as the high temperatures generated from baking a frozen pizza will make your kitchen feel like, well, an oven. Instead, now is the perfect time to fire up the grill or prepare cool dishes such as salads, sandwiches and chilled soups like gazpacho. If nothing else, now you can check out that new deli that opened up in your neighborhood.
6. Remember mom’s advice and close the refrigerator door. While opening the refrigerator door for a cool blast of air sounds refreshing and might cool you off short term, it’s actually counterproductive to cooling off your home. The motor in the refrigerator needs to work harder to maintain a constant temperature and winds up generating more heat.
7. Ditch the extra bedding. During the day, it’s fine if your bed looks like it could be in a Pottery Barn catalog. But at night, kick the excess pillows, shams, throw pillows, coverlets and comforters to the floor. Alternatively, put them away in storage. They can trap your body heat and make you feel warm while you sleep. The fewer bedding accessories you have on your bed, the more comfortable you’ll feel at night.
8. Take a page out of the history book when it comes to keeping cool. Before air conditioners were invented, people had to get creative when it came to cooling off on a hot summer’s day. “Women would fan themselves off with fans dipped in cool, scented water, which also helped them smell clean,” says Janet Franke, program coordinator for The Grove, a nature preserve in Glenview, Illinois that includes homes built in the 19th century. Get a hand fan from your favorite party store, sprinkle it with water and fan away.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.