Are you suffering through a summer without air conditioning? Excessive heat can be uncomfortable at best and fatal at worst. Although handy, air conditioning is expensive and not by any means necessary to stay cool and comfortable in your home during the warm summer months. By making some simple changes, you can avoid the heat and save a lot of money by skimping on the AC.
Method 1 of 2: Cooling Yourself
Sleep cooler. If the heat is keeping you from resting at night, try these ideas:
- Get a fan for your room. A fan on a low setting that can keep a light breeze blowing across your room can work wonders. If you don’t like air blowing directly on you while you sleep, you can still make your room cooler by using a fan in your window to circulate fresh air.
- Get a waterbed. A waterbed is like an air mattress, but full of non-pressurized water that supports the body by buoyancy. Water conducts and absorbs heat far more than air, so a waterbed, like a pool, feels cool in practically all weather. (It will need a small, low-power heating pad under itself to run most of the year.) They are very smooth but tend to “hammock”, more as one is bigger and heavier (as with most sleeping difficulties) so if possible try before you buy.
- Put a small pillow in the freezer an hour or two before you go to bed. Put a few plastic shopping bags over it to keep ice from forming on the fabric.
- Hang up your bedding in the coolest part of the house during the day. As soon as you get up, take your bedding to the coolest room in the house (in the basement, or where there’s the most shade) and hang up the blankets and sheets so that each side is exposed to the air. Take them down and put them back on your bed just before you go to sleep.
- Use silk or satin pillowcases, and satin sheets. These fabrics will feel smoother and cooler as you sleep.
- If you wake up too hot, consider how many coverings – e.g., over 80°F/26C maybe sleep uncovered, over 73°F/23C under one sheet, cooler, under that sheet and a blanket, etc. Similarly your dress or no dress top or bottom.
- Just add water. The relief is almost immediate, and will last for up to one hour or more.
- Drink water frequently. Your body will feel cooler if you are hydrated. Try drinking eight ounces of water at least every hour. Adding mint leaves, or orange, lemon or cucumber slices to your water makes it more refreshing.
- Get a cheap spray bottle – fill it with water, adjust it to fine mist and spray it on your exposed skin for an instant chill-zing cooling effect.
- Keep the back of your neck in shade (wear a cap backwards, or raise your collar) or put a wet handkerchief on the back of the neck. The sensor for our body temperature control system is in this area, and so with this method you can make the rest of your body think that you are “cool”.
- Place or tie an icepack behind your head.
- Wet all your hair, or just all along the hairline in a pinch. The evaporation of the water will cool your head (though it may make your hair a bit frizzy if it’s curly!).
- Wear a bandana with water soaked on it and put it on your head. Or you can relive the 80’s and wear a wet terrycloth headband on your forehead.
- Try using a water misting fan. These portable devices are battery operated so you can take them with you wherever you go. As you mist and fan yourself, the water is evaporated on your skin, giving you an instant cooling sensation.
- Soak a t-shirt in the sink, wring it out and put it on. Sit in a lawn chair (or other chair that lets air through to you) in front of a fan. Re-wet as it dries. Use lukewarm water for this so you don’t “shock” your system with cold water.
- Wear a short sleeved shirt and put water on the sleeves only. If there is a breeze or fan blowing on you, you can actually get cold! Use a squirt bottle, the sink or hose if outside to keep your sleeves wet. If you are outside and wearing long pants and you put water on your legs, the water will cool your legs. Long skirts are also good for this. Just sprinkle the hemline with water.
- Run cold water over your wrists for 10 seconds on each hand. This will reduce your temperature for roughly an hour.
- Soak your feet in a bucket of cold water. The body radiates heat from the hands, feet, face and ears, so cooling any of these will efficiently cool the body. Kids wading pools are great for adults feet too.
- Fill your bathtub with cool water and get in. Once you are used to the temperature, let some water out and refill with cold water. Keep doing this until you are sufficiently cold. Your body will stay cool for a long time after you get out. For a fast cool-down, add ice!
- Go for a swim. Visit the swimming pool and unwind.
- Dress appropriately. There are several strategies to dress (or undress) for the heat, depending on your situation:
- Wear nothing. If you’re in a situation where you can go without clothes, this can be the most comfortable and natural way to stay cool.
- Wear next-to-nothing. Put on a swimsuit, or wear your underwear at home.
- Wear summer clothing. Wear loosely-woven natural fabrics (cotton, silk, linen) rather than polyester, rayon, or other artificial fibers (with the possible exception of performance fabrics).
- Wear light colors. Darker colors will absorb the sun’s heat and stay warmer longer than light or white clothing, which reflects light and heat. Wear natural summer clothing.
- Cover yourself up. Covering up may actually keep you cooler, especially if the heat is low in humidity. In the scorching temperatures of the Middle Eastern deserts, traditional cultures wear clothing covering from head to toe. By protecting your skin from the sun beating down, you’ll also shade your skin. Be sure your clothing is made of natural fabrics and is loose-fitting.
- Alter your diet. What you eat and drink can help keep you cool as well.
- Stock your freezer with flavored ice treats. Freeze a bag of chopped fruit such as watermelon, pineapple or lemons. Cooling down can be a tasty experience too!
- Use a hint of mint. Mint refreshes the skin and leaves a nice cooling sensation. Try a few minty or menthol products to cool your skin. Slather on lotion with peppermint (avoid your face and eyes), shower with peppermint soap, use a minty foot soak or other powders with mint. There are even a few minty recipes you could try, for example:
- Use cucumbers. Slice a thin piece of cold cucumber (from the fridge or a cooler) and stick it in the middle of your forehead! This feels fantastic on a hot day or when stuck in a hot car and works almost immediately! An ice cube or a cold soda can work similarly, though the astringency of the cucumber is more refreshing for your eyelids.
- Eat spicy food. It’s not a coincidence that many people in hotter regions of the world eat spicy food. Spicy (hot to the taste) food increases perspiration which cools the body as it evaporates. It also can cause an endorphin rush that is quite pleasant and might make you forget about the heat.
More next week …