In the summer, there is nothing more tempting than blasting the A/C. However, this can get expensive, and if your air conditioner breaks, it always seems to happen at the worst possible times. Whether you’re saving money or your A/C is on the fritz, try some of these tested strategies to help you stay cool and comfortable.
Turn on the fan: Fans don’t lower the temperature, but moving air does help circulate the air, which helps the body cool itself. If you want to get serious about cooling off in front of your fan, fill a bin with ice, aim the air stream over it, and then sit back and enjoy the ultra-chilled air.
For enhanced cooling pleasure, keep a spray mist bottle handy (or better yet, store it in the fridge) and keep plenty of ice, frozen treats and your favorite chilled beverages on hand.
Let off some steam: When the sun goes down, so do outdoor temperatures. Nighttime is the perfect time to expel hot air that’s collected indoors during the day. So when the sun sets, throw open the windows and doors.
Harness the power of cross-ventilation: After dark, when those doors and windows come open, flush out the heat even more quickly with fans. On the north or east side of your house, place fans in or near the windows and direct the airflow into the house. At the sun-baked south and west windows, place the fans so they push out warm air. This may mean getting used to sleeping with your bedroom door open, but the lower temperatures will be worth it!
Go old-school: Our ancestors lived for centuries without air conditioning, so consider a few old-timey tricks to cool off. Dampen a sheet in cold water and hang it in the doorway. The evaporating moisture will release the water’s coolness into the air, making things feel a tad better. And remember, heat rises, so that may mean moving your sleeping quarters to somewhere else in the house – try your enclosed porch, the ground floor or the basement, until the heat wave passes.
Close it up: In the morning, do what you can to block solar heat gain with the greenhouse effect. Shut the windows tight and draw the drapes or blinds to block the sun. Consider upgrading your window treatments to medium-colored draperies with white vinyl backing; this step alone can reduce solar heat gain by 33 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Adjust your cooking routine: Limited or no A/C requires a no-extra-heat policy, so cutting back on using your oven and stove is essential. Give your range a break and fire up the grill, or try smaller appliances that emit less heat, such as your slow cooker or microwave. For ideas and inspiration, be sure and check out Direct Energy’s collection of energy-efficient recipes.
Reschedule other household tasks: While your range oven is on vacation, use other appliances wisely, because these can also make extra heat, even if you’re not aware of it. Wash clothes and run the dishwasher only at night while venting your house, and consider drying your clothes on a drying rack or outdoor clothesline.
Rediscover your patio: On those hot days and evenings, follow the lead of the people in the South and Midwest, who know that sitting on the porch with iced beverages in hand is a great way to beat the heat. Adding shade to your outdoor space can lower the temperature a few more degrees, so experiment with tall potted plants, large hanging baskets or even an awning or pergola.
A hot house at the peak of summer is never fun, but you can stay cool and comfortable with a little creativity.