Air conditioning makes your home deliciously cool in summer, but it eats up a lot of electricity, boosting utility costs. And for those of us who are concerned about the environment, using all that energy has an environmental cost.
Experts say that AC produces half a billion tons of greenhouse gasses through electricity consumption. On average, US citizens spend between $200 and $450 on air conditioning per household depending on the climate.
Lastly, there are some who believe that air conditioning can make them ill, even though science says that may not be true. Be that as it may, there’s definitely money to be saved by leaving the air conditioning off – but how are you to stay cool?
Rest assured; there are many things you can do to keep indoor temperatures more comfortable in summer. After all, your grandparents survived without air conditioning, didn’t they?
Basic strategies for keeping cool depend on the following principles:
1. Working with the Body’s Thermostat
We have a natural ability to adapt to changing seasonal temperatures, but the more we use our AC, the less we acclimatize and the more we actually need the AC. Instead of cooling the whole house including walls, floors and other things that don’t mind being warm, we can focus on cooling our bodies and lowering our core temperature.
2. Keeping Heat Out and Venting Heat
We can reduce the temperatures in our homes by ventilating well and keeping sunlight out at certain times of the day.
3. Using Evaporative Cooling
When water evaporates, heat energy is used up creating a cooling effect. This is a method used a lot by our grandparents, so you should give it a try!
4. A Few Minor Behavioral Adaptations
By altering a few little habits, we can also help ourselves, and our houses cool without the aid of air conditioning.
Nitty Gritty Tips to Help You Keep the AC Off
1. Get Proper Insulation and Reflect Heat
Poorly insulated homes are freezing in winter and boiling in summer. Keep it comfy all year round by ensuring there is proper insulation in your roof. In seriously hot climates light-colored roofing helps to reflect heat – something to bear in mind when next your roof needs painting.
2. Keep the Sun Out
If the sun can’t shine through your windows, it can’t make your house hot.
- Close drapes or blinds on sunny South facing windows.
- Late afternoon sun is also hot, so West facing windows are also a target.
- To solve the problem for good, create shade with deciduous trees that will still let the sun in during winter time when you want all the warmth and natural light in your home.
- Get inexpensive light reflecting film for sunny windows.
- Consider installing covers.
3. Open the Windows at Night
If it’s cooler outdoors than indoors at night, opening the windows will vent the heat. It will also get rid of indoor air pollution and improves air quality. Did your grandma say the fresh air was good for you? She’s right!
4. Make Evaporative Cooling Work for You
Try these tips to do evaporative cooling work for you:
- Take a refreshing shower and don’t dry off properly.
- Hang a damp sheet in front of an open window to cool the air.
- Sleep under a wet cotton sheet.
- Use a spritz bottle to mist your skin with water.
- Put a damp cloth on the back of your neck.
- You can also combine these tips with an electric fan that moves the air around, speeding up evaporation and increasing the feeling of coolness.
5. Get Down!
- Hot air rises, so sleeping on the floor, either on a mattress or better yet on a bamboo sleeping mat helps you to stay cool.
- Hammocks are also cooler than beds, and the lower you hang them, the cooler you’ll be.
- Plush furniture is pretty warm to sit on. If you’re spry enough, try sitting on the floor for a change.
- If you have a two story house or a basement, sleep as far down as you can go.
6. Drop Your Core Temperature
A cold bath or shower lowers your core temperature, and so do these cooling tips:
- Take an ice pack to bed with you: use your hot water bottle and freeze water in it or just wrap ice cubes in a towel. Chill down then leave it in a tub beside your bed in case you need it later. It will stay cold even after the ice melts.
- Don’t eat heavy, hot suppers, keep it fresh with cold meats and salads. Not only does this help keep core temperature down, but it also eliminates heat generated from stoves.
- Drink lots of cool water. It will help you to activate your body’s natural cooling mechanism while lowering your core temperature.
- Apply an ice pack to wrists, inner arms and elbows as well as the back of the neck.
- Chill your feet in ice water before bedtime.
7. Fans Work Wonders
- Fans move air around making evaporation happen faster. Your sweat will cool your body better when fans are on.
- Set up ceiling fans so that they turn counterclockwise in summer for optimum cooling.
- Make a cheap AC by placing a bowl of ice in front of a standing fan so that the air blows across the ice.
- When outdoor temperatures are cooler than indoor ones, have a fan blowing air out of the house while another blows air in.
- Set up fans so that they create a cross-wind.
- Use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to vent hot air.
8. Get Smart with Materials
- Choose fresh cotton sheets.
- Choose loose-fitting cotton pajamas or sleep naked.
- Wear natural fabric, loose fitting clothes by day.
- If you’re sleeping under a wet sheet, use towels to keep the mattress dry.
- Choose a buckwheat pillow as the coolest place to rest your head.
9. Reduce Heat from Appliances
- Choose LED lighting and turn off unnecessary lights.
- Don’t use the stove. If you do want cooked food, have a BBQ.
- Dry washing outdoors on the washing line instead of using the dryer.
- Don’t just switch off appliances, unplug them. Every bit helps.
10. Things You Can Do Differently in the Hottest Weather
- Sleep outdoors (as long as it’s safe). It’s fun!
- Don’t cuddle up with your partner at night.
- Spread out your body when you sleep so that arms and legs don’t touch each other.
- Let your feet stick out from beneath the sheet at night.
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