After a long winter and chilly spring, the heat of summer feels like a gift from heaven. But the truth is that those warm summer days are actually a mixed blessing. While warm weather means backyard parties and dining alfresco, for people without air conditioning, it can also mean a stiflingly hot home where getting comfortable is next to impossible.
However, while nobody loves peeling themselves off their furniture or noticing conspicuous sweat marks developing on their clothing, beating the heat is often more than just a matter of personal comfort. On average, more than 600 people die from heat every year in the US, according to the CDC, and many more will experience heat exhaustion. The good news? Even if you don’t have the cash or incentive to spring for central air, you can still make yourself safer, cooler, and more comfortable with these easy tips for keeping your home cool. And for more ways to stay cool, check out 20 Tips for a Less Sweaty Summer.
Invest in Good Curtains
When it comes to keeping your place cool without central air, it’s you versus the sun. Get insulated or thermal curtains, and close them every morning before the day gets hot. You want to keep the sun out for as long as possible, and covering the windows will provide a miraculous amount of help on that front, keeping your home cooler all day in the process. And for more on the usefulness of good curtains, check out 70 Tips for Your Best Sleep Ever.
Turn Off the Lights
If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, turn them off. They create a lot of heat— just one of the many reasons they’re so energy inefficient. However, even energy efficient light bulbs should be turned off when you’re trying to keep things cool—any electronics in use can heat up your home a little bit. Make a habit of checking that all the lights are off when you leave a room, and use them as little during the day. And if you still can’t sleep after the lights are out, discover these 40 Tips for Better Sleep on Summer Nights.
Try Window Film
If the idea of keeping your home curtained off from the outside world all day in the summer has you bummed, removable solar window film might be right for you. The film will block ultraviolet rays and reduce heat gain from sunlight without making your home as dark as a cave. And for more on why you might want to let the light in, learn Why Sunshine Is Your Ultimate Weight Loss Weapon.
Take Your Kitchen Outside
Cooking generates a lot of heat, but a person can only eat frozen grapes and salad for so long before they start to crack. Fortunately, cooking on a grill doesn’t need to be reserved for big barbecues and cookouts—it’s also a great way to keep your kitchen cool. You might also want to purchase or make a solar oven to expand your arsenal of summer cooking styles. And if you don’t want to be bothered to cook at all, Here’s Why Eating Raw Food Is Better For You Than You Ever Knew.
Switch the Direction of Your Ceiling Fan
In winter, you want your ceiling fan to turn clockwise, which will push hot air down. But in summer, you’ll want it to turn counter-clockwise, to push cold air down. Be mindful of the difference, and switch your fan’s direction accordingly. And if you want to take the cool outside of the house, check out 10 Ways to Cool Off This Summer in Seersucker.
Open The Windows
Living without AC requires a very elaborate dance between you, your windows, and your fans. During the day, you want your windows shut and covered so the inside of your home feels like a hermetically sealed tomb. Once the sun goes down and the air cools off, though, it’s time to open them up and let some fresh air in. Repeat this process every day until pumpkin spice lattes return. And if you think this sounds annoying, check out the 30 Worst Things About Summer.
Do Laundry at Night
Ideally, you can hang your clothes out to dry, because running a dryer is a great way to heat up your home. But if that’s not an option for you, do your laundry at night, so you can have windows open and fans going to help circulate the heat made by your dryer out of the house. And for more on cleaning smarter, discover 20 Genius House Cleaning Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind.
Point Your Fan Out
It might be tempting to stick your fan in the window and sit right in front of it, but before you can do that, you need to get the hot air out of your place by having the fan pointing outward, rather than in. And if you want to see some appliances that are significantly less useful, check out The 30 Worst Home Appliances Ever Created.
Paint Your Roof
If you have the option, use reflective roof paint to transform your roof into a cool roof and keep heat from the sun out of your home. A cool roof can be up to 50 degrees cooler than a dark-colored roof, so the difference it makes can be pretty major. And for more ways to best the sun, learn how to Beat the Summer Sun With These 10 Skin Care Products.
Do Weekly Meal Planning
If you’re going to cook inside, try to consolidate it all into one day, especially if you’re planning on making anything involving grains, like quinoa, rice, or pasta. Virtually any grains require a pot of boiling water that will heat up your kitchen like nobody’s business. Use a rice cooker if you have one, and use it at night. If you don’t have one, make sure to keep a lid on the pot while you’re waiting for the water to boil to trap heat in the pot instead of unleashing it in your kitchen. Cook everything in advance and heat it up in the microwave as needed for the rest of the week. And if you want to get the most out of your microwave, This Is the Safest Way to Heat Food in a Microwave.
Get Your Curtains Wet
An old pre-AC trick is to use curtains made from natural materials and dunk the bottoms of them in buckets of water. With your windows open, when the breeze passes through, the water on the curtains will help cool the air.
Use a Block of Ice
This is a trick that dates back to when people still had ice delivery men. If you want to go really old-fashioned, freeze a container of water, and put the resulting block of ice under your fan. It will cool the air as it blows over it, and you can feel a brief emotional connection to how your great-grandmother probably lived, which might help distract you from the heat, too.
Your lights aren’t the only thing generating heat in your home. Any appliance that’s left on will generate heat. Most will continue to do so to some degree as long as they’re plugged in. Whenever possible, use power strips and unplug everything you can when you’re not using it and your home will be cooler in no time.
Create a Cross Breeze
The magic you can get from one fan is pretty impressive, but if you can get your hands on two fans, you might even forget you ever wanted air conditioning. The first step is to figure out which way the wind is blowing. Put a fan in a window that will pull in wind from the outside, and then put another fan in a window opposite that’s blowing air out to really amp up the air circulation in your home.
Get a Swamp Cooler
You won’t want to do this if you live in a humid climate, but if you live someplace where you’re being blasted by scorching dry heat, you can buy or make a swamp cooler for your home. Unlike air conditioners, swamp coolers (also known as evaporative coolers) turn moisture into vapor using the thermal energy in the air, reducing the temperature in the process. Another option if you’re desperate for evaporative cooling is to hang a wet towel in front of your fan, which is undeniably cheaper, albeit less effective. And if all of this has got you wishing it was October already, here are The 30 Best Things About Summer.
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