Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to Stay Cooler in the Summer Heat On the Cheap

It looks like it will be another hot summer this year.  I'd like to share some things I have done to stay cooler in the summer heat.
Sounds simple but make sure you drink plenty of water.  That way your body has something to make sweat with which is nature's way of cooling us off.  If you spend a lot of time outdoors then do that in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are not at their height.
Be a kid again and play in the sprinkler!  Even just turning on the hose and dousing your head will cool you down.  You can wet a bandana and wrap around your head or neck and there are items you can buy and freeze to wrap around your neck.  If you have a cold bottle of water or an aluminum can of something cold you can hold it against the sides of your neck or your armpits.  Blood vessels are closer to the skin there and doing so will cool down your core temperature.  The groin area does this too and is good to remember if someone is suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Even just putting your feet into a cool pan of water will make you feel cooler all over.
Use fans!  You can even keep the a/c in your house at a higher temperature and still be comfortable if you use fans--and yes, that is plural.  Ceiling fans, oscillating fans, box fans, they all serve to move air and that air will feel much cooler.  You can even use a fan outside if there is no breeze.  The fan doesn't care where you use it.
Shades, preferably black out shades on any windows that get direct sun, especially south facing windows.  Block the sun and heat with shades and even heavy draperies.  I know it makes the house dark but it does work.
Natural fabric clothing and lightweight, light colored clothing.
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Tips for those without a/c or electricity:
Take several cool showers a day, not necessarily with soap, just hose off to cool down your body.  I lived for 9 years here in the Houston, TX area with no a/c and this is the best one thing you can do besides using fans.
You can keep cool enough at night to sleep comfortably by wetting your sheet and laying it over you.  A fan blowing over the wet sheet is extremely cooling.
Powder!  Baby powder, cornstarch, Gold Bond, whatever powder you like.  Powder everywhere and re-apply as necessary, down your back really helps.
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If you use window a/c units rather than whole house a/c you can save on your utility bill by only cooling the room or rooms you are actually using.  I put up curtains to block off the entrance to the laundry room and the hall leading to bedrooms so I am not having to try to cool those areas.   
I have an open great room which is the living room/dining area/kitchen.  The living room area is not really used much as I usually am at my desk which is in between.  I am moving the desk to where my dining table is now and moving the table to the edge of the living room.  Then I will hang sheer curtains across to block the a/c from going into the living room.  The window unit will not have to work as hard to cool off the space I do use.  I'll post photos after that project is completed.
You can put up awnings at least over the windows that get the most sun.  Or add a covered porch!  Look at traditional old homes built in the South, especially those in Louisiana or the low country of the Carolinas.  There's a reason they have wrap around porches.  If you have an older home like from the 40's or older you might also look into an attic fan that will pull hot air out and pull cool air in at night, just depends on how your home is built.
Older homes in the south were also built to catch breezes, windows and doors were placed to let the air flow through the house, think shotgun and dog run style homes.  My old apartment with no a/c had a 60 foot hallway down the middle with doors at each end and it was always the coolest place,  you could always find the cats stretched out in the hall in the summer.  
9 foot and taller ceilings also help as heat rises so be grateful if you have those. 
Use fans in windows to push hot air out or pull cool air in.
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Find more great articles at The Prairie Homestead Barn Hop!
Linking to Frugally Sustainable.

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