Things can get sweaty in summer, even here in Vermont. But with a little ingenuity and these time-tested tips you can keep things cool without sending your electricity bill or your greenhouse gas emissions through the roof.
1. Close your windows
It seems counter-intuitive, but on a hot summer day, opening windows will often make your home warmer, not cooler. Open windows at night if the air outside is cooler than the air inside, then close them in the morning, along with blinds, shades and drapes, before the sun hits your house.
2. Use fans strategically
Even small, inexpensive tabletop fans can really move the air around. If there's a cool breeze, particularly at night, place one facing in by the window where air is coming in, and one at an opposite window positioned to blow warm air out, can create a nice “wind tunnel” effect in pulling air through the house.
Create a little low-impact air conditioning by freezing a few water bottles and setting them between you and the fan. It works better than you'd think. Add in a spritz bottle and you can dramatically change your temperature; as the water evaporates off your skin, your body sheds heat.
Use ceiling fans to create a pleasant breeze and cool a room significantly. Just be sure to have the fan running in the right direction. In the summer, you should feel the breeze blowing down. Also, ceiling fans cool rooms, not people, so be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.
3. Eat to stay cool
Eating cold food helps keep your internal temperature lower on a hot day. Try salads, fresh raw food, vegetables and fruit. Avoid eating meat and protein-heavy foods during the heat of the day, and if you simply have to cook, use the grill. Think about serving smaller portions and lighter foods to cut down on the body heat created by digestion.
4. Shut off the lights
Incandescent light bulbs are really just mini-heaters in disguise. If you haven’t switched yours out for LEDs or compact fluorescents shut them off unless you absolutely need them. The same goes for many electronics, so consider unplugging any device that isn't needed, since even in standby mode, many electronics remain hot.
5. Get wet
If you're hot, cool off your core temperature by immersing yourself in cold water. Take a cold shower or go swimming (but don't stay in sun-exposed water for too long when it's between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Unless there's 100% humidity, the evaporation of water off your skin will further cool you once you emerge from the water. For quick relief, wet your wrists and other pulse points with cold water, and then keep those spots cool by holding an ice cube wrapped in a face cloth against them. The relief is immediate, and this method will cool down your entire body—by as much as three degrees Fahrenheit—for upwards of an hour.
6. Dress simply
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in natural fabrics like linen and cotton will help to keep you cooler. Light colors reflect the heat and sunlight better. And while some synthetic clothes are specifically made to reduce heat (read the label) in general avoid synthetics or you may find that when the sun is beaming down, none of the heat or sweat feels like it’s escaping
7. Drink plenty of water
If you aren’t in the habit of drinking plenty of water, start now. As the weather gets warmer, it’ll be the way your body regenerates itself — the last thing you want to do is pass out from dehydration -- and you’ll be able to enjoy the longer, hotter days and the good times that come with them.
8. Insulate your attic
This is not a project you should attempt when the temperatures are already soaring. But it’s definitely something that should be on your to-do list. In the summer time your attic is really, really hot and that heat is always trying to transfer into a cooler space. The right insulation can really decrease the heat that is transferred from the hot sun into your house. In winter, the same insulation will keep your home’s heat from being transferred outside. You can get a tax credit worth 10% of the material cost, up to $500.
9. Squelch humidity
Humidity makes a room hotter. Do laundry early or late in the day. Take showers or baths during the cooler times of day. If your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen has vents, use them. And if you live in a humid climate, invest in a dehumidifier.
10. Make it fun!
It’s summer! Get outside and remember how much fun you had as a kid, no matter how hot it was:
- Run through the sprinklers (provided there aren’t water restrictions in your area) with your friends.
- Fill water balloons and try to get hit (to cool down) rather than dodge them.
- Have a pool party. Cover the pool with a shade cover if it doesn't already have one and spend time partying by––and preferably in––the pool.
- No pool? Get a kiddy pool, fill it up and cool down.
- Have an afternoon of making and eating your own frozen treats, including ice cream, popsicles, slushies, frozen fruit, etc.(we’ll post recipes here soon)
- Seek out “cold” entertainment. Movies are often freezing, and matinees can be a bargain.
- Challenge your friends to find the coldest buildings in your town and treat the winner(s) to their favorite ice cream!
What’s the best tip you ever got for beating the summer heat?
Photo: Julien Haler