Summer’s in full effect here in Georgia, and we’re already struggling to stay cool. Heat waves are beginning to roll across the country, and you have to be extremely careful not to get overheated and dehydrated. Many deaths have even been connected to power outages during the heat wave.
However, it’s possible to lose your air conditioning even if your power doesn’t go out. These tips will help you and your family stay cool in case your a/c goes out, and they might also help you save some money during the summer months.
How to Stay Cool Without A/C
1) Close Your Windows – During the day when it’s hotter outside, keep your windows closed and your blinds and curtains drawn. Black-out curtains pinned over the windows will help keep all of the sunlight out – get light colored ones, the darker ones might heat up and actually radiate heat. If it’s cooler at night, you might open them up.
2) Use Fans – It makes sense to use fans when you have no A/C, but there are a couple more tricks that will make them more efficient. For oscillating fans or box fans, put them near an external door facing an external wall (for example, in your bedroom, put the fan in the bedroom door facing into the room). If you put the fan inside the room near the external wall, the radiant heat will be blown inward by the fan and actually make the house hotter. You could also put a pan of ice water in front of the fan to super-cool the air as it blows. If you’re using a ceiling fan, make sure it’s blowing air down (typically counter-clockwise). This will cause a “wind chill” effect making the room feel cooler.
3) Build a “Swamp Cooler” – Like the last tip of using a fan blowing across a pan of ice water, there is a great concept that has been floating around for decades – swamp coolers (also known as an evaporative cooler). Instead of trying to explain it all to you, check out the great information my friend Scott at Graywolf Survival has about building your own swamp cooler here and here.
4) Eat Cold Foods – Help regulate your body temperature by eating cold foods like popsicles. When it comes to meals, think about eating salads and raw fruits. This will prevent you from having to use your stove or oven (which will raise the temperature in your house). If you just have to cook, check into getting a solar oven and use your outdoor grill. You can also make your own solar oven.
5) Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine – Ok, I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, but I’ve got to have my coffee every morning, so this one might be tough for me. Both alcohol and caffeine have been considered diuretics (something that promotes urine production) for many years, and may cause dehydration. It’s best not to drink them if you’re struggling to stay cool. To prevent dehydration, stick to water. It’s recommended that you have about eight glasses of water per day.
According to WebMD, caffeine isn’t bad in moderation:
The bottom line is that although caffeine does act as a mild diuretic, studies show drinking caffeinated drinks in moderation doesn’t actually cause dehydration.
…but The Naked Scientists confirm the rumor on alcohol:
The common belief that taking alcohol will lead to dehydration is pretty well-supported in scientific research. The reason for this dehydration effect is that when the blood alcohol level rises it stops the release of a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone. As the name suggests this hormone normally prevents urine production so when you lower its levels that leads to an increase in the amount of urine you produce. Consequently you can get dehydrated.
6) Stay Out Of The Sun – If you’ve got outdoor chores to get done, try waking earlier to do them or wait until the sun goes down in the evening.
7) Dress Appropriately – Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to help keep air circulating where you need it the most. If it’s possible, wear less (but PLEASE not in public)!
8) Go Swimming – People with pools get plenty of company in the summer – pool parties are fun, right? If you don’t own a pool or have a friend who has one, even a little kiddie pool full of water is a welcome sight on a hot afternoon! If you’d rather stay inside, you could always take a nice, cold bath, too.
9) Turn Off the Lights – During the day time, you don’t need lights, anyway for the most part. Only turn on lights when you absolutely need them – especially if you’re still using incandescent bulbs. If you change your bulbs to compact fluorescent lamp bulbs (CFLs), not only will you use less power, but your house will naturally stay cooler, too. CFLs don’t produce as much heat as incandescent bulbs since they don’t use as much energy.
10) Kill the Humidity – “Dry heat” is far less draining on your system than humid heat. Take showers and do laundry early in the morning or late in the evening. You might also want to invest in a good dehumidifier (but run it on the other side of the room from your swamp cooler).
11) Chill in the Basement – It’s a known fact that heat rises. Your basement (if you have one) is most likely at least partially underground, right? Again, a known fact that temperatures underground are naturally cooler. Basements can be 10-15 degrees (or more) cooler than the main level of your house.
12) Cold Towel – Soak a wash cloth or small hand towel in cold water, wring it out (or don’t) and place it around your neck. You could also place a cold compress (lightly) against your carotid or femoral arteries to help cool your blood (which will, in turn, cool your body).
Bonus) Put It All Together – Combining any or all of the methods above will make sure you stay cool as a cucumber this summer! If you’re in your basement in a cool bath drinking cold water with the windows closed, fans going and running your swamp cooler, you might actually catch a cold! I kid, of course, but I’m sure you’d be pretty cool!