Whether you are suffering through a summer of unusual heat, or just are without an air conditioner, use these handy tips to stay cool!
While most of us in the United States have air conditioning, especially in the south, not every house has it. And across the world, air conditioning is a luxury in monetary terms, or in time – there just isn’t enough extended hot weather to make it worth paying for. And for some, it is simply a luxury they cannot afford.
In our home, our air conditioning can’t keep up with the summer heat and still afford us the ability to pay other bills and eat food 😉 Electricity to run air conditioning at a level we find comfortable all summer long is expensive. So we’ve learned ways to help stay cooler, plus taken some advice from experts all over – you, the readers!
So here are ….
15+ WAYS TO STAY COOL IN THE HEAT
Drink a ton. You can use fruit to infuse your water, make lemonade or iced tea to change things up. Stay away from alcohol and caffeinated drinks which really just deplete your body of water, and loads of sugar which just make you feel thirstier, making it that much harder to cool yourself.
Turn on those fans.
Moving air helps cool your body which makes you feel cooler. Set your ceiling fan to turn counter-clockwise. Increase the speed of the fan as the temperature rises during the day.
EXTREME HEAT TIP: When lost our AC a number of years ago, we reverted to a way to help cool us, in the height of summer, for the couple of days we were without (and miserable). You can see the instructions here:
Use a mister or spray bottle to mist yourself during the day. Not only are you hydrating your skin, but you are adding moisture that is then cooled off by the air around you (evaporation), helping you cool down. Here’s a handy battery operated version that can be useful! You can also just do this with a damp towel (which helps clean off stale sweat), but I always found that makes me kind of itchy – so I’ve really loved the mist.
I know! I’m giving you permission! Our stove is smack dab in the middle of our living space. And there is little in the way of true air movement (if only I could smack the developers way back when). So cooking, especially if it involves the oven, can be one hot mess in the worst heat. So I don’t use the oven in the summer if I can possibly help it. If I need to bake, I do it early in the day or late in the evening, I freeze as much as I can earlier in the year to be able to pop out muffins, I use the slow cooker or Instant Pot as much as I can, or slow cook on the stove top. We eat lighter, cooler meals, and make use of cold like smoothies and overnight oatmeal for breakfasts to get our day started. Or heck…even by evening, sometimes I’m just too hot to eat and those make great dinners.
Did you know? Eating smaller meals more often can help keep your body cooler? Big heavy meals can raise your metabolic rate, which makes you feel hotter.
Cool it off!
Soak a handkerchief in water and tie around your neck. Again, this adds moisture to your skin that evaporates and cools you off, as it helps cool your blood and your head. This works around your wrists and other pulse points, too. There are neck wraps that can be stored in the fridge/freezer, too!
Tip: stick your wrists under some cool running water for a few moments to help do a quick cool down.
Adjust your air conditioning
You’d think that having it really cold in your car or house would be a good thing (except for your wallet), and it might be if you spend all of your time there. But if you get your body used to the really cold conditions, when you have to transition to outdoor conditions, it can be a bit of a shocker for your body, making you feel all the heat all the more.
Get out of the sun
Seems pretty obvious, but working in the shade or working during the cooler parts of the day is infinitely easier on your body. So plan all of your outdoor work around your home in the wee hours or in the late evening. Then come inside and use a few of the others techniques to cool off.
Eat cool stuff!
Foods full of moisture are great at helping keep you hydrated which helps cool you down. You can make healthy ice pops to keep in the freezer as a treat. Freeze grapes to snack on. Eat salads.
Weird tip: Breathe into a cup full of ice. Not only holding a glass full of ice helps cool you down, but if you blow into the cup, close to your face, that blast of cold air gives you a quick bit of relief on your face. We tried it, and it works, but I looked pretty dorky walking around with a glass in my face constantly!
Turn off the lights, shut the blinds.
While most of us have made the switch to CFL or LED bulbs, if you’re still using incandescent lighting, that can generate heat which may be making you feel hotter. Shutting out the heat by closing the blinds helps create an insulating effect. But remember that you can open up those windows at night to let the cool breezes in (if you have them!)
TIP: If you’re really suffering in a house you cannot cool down, turn off every electrical appliance you can. They generate heat, even running in the lowest mode available. While it may not seem much help, in closed spaces, it can be a lot.
Wear appropriate clothing
Wearing natural, loosely woven, light, loose-fitting clothing can actually help protect you better. Plus having something covering your skin can help protect you from absorbing as much of the sun’s heat when you’re outdoors, and allow you to feel cooler indoors as they don’t stick to your body or keep heat in.
Dress Your Windows
If, like us, your house is a dungeon with the blinds closed, or you have one particular window that gets a ton of direct sunlight, I have a solution for you!
When we installed heat blocking window film on our front windows, the relief from heat was immediate. Even as we were installing the film, we could feel a difference in the heat radiating through the window. You can get the window film from your local DIY store or purchase online here.
Create a cross-breeze
If you don’t have AC, are without AC, creating a cross-breeze in your space is helpful to feel cooler (breeze blowing across your skin helping with the evaporation of moisture, i.e. sweat). You can set up a fan bringing in cool air from a shaded side of your house, and another fan blowing out the hot air of the house to the outside. Or you can use this fan in one room that works both ways – draws in cool air and forces out hot air.
Take a cool shower
or jump in the pool. Even just having a kiddie pool with water that you sit in a chair and soak your feet in can cool you off tremendously. (and it serves double duty as a water storage source should you need it one day!)
It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes, it can feel cooler outside than inside. When we lost AC in our home, the house isn’t built for a cross breeze, and it became stifling hot. Opening windows just didn’t help. But we found that going outside, using some of these cooling techniques, and sitting in the shade of our big oaks gave us more comfort, even though it was still hot. If you have a shaded screen porch, lots of big shade trees, or anywhere that the breeze can offer a relief, try it out!
Take off your socks
If you’re tooling around and can go barefooted, do it. It helps keep your feet from getting hot and sweaty which just makes you hot and sweaty. Be safe, though, and make sure to wear appropriate foot gear for where you are going. I always suggest wearing socks with tennis shoes to help absorb sweat, keep your shoes lasting longer (and not smelly), but if going in sandals, flip flops, open toed sandals, etc. is an option, DO IT!
Wet your head
It helps keep your whole body cooler as the heat of your body leaves through your head.
Dress your furniture
Add cotton sheets to fuzzy furniture. If your furniture is the kind that holds in heat, you can use cotton sheeting to help keep a cooler surface to give you a little more comfort. I know my couch is the hottest thing to sit on in the summer because it just seems to create hot pocket wherever you sit and radiate heat back to you.
Use a Rice Sock
Rice socks aren’t just for sore muscles, anymore! Create rice socks, buckwheat pillows or other grains encased in cool fabrics which can be stored in the freezer and used to as cooling pads on your body or in your bed. Using buckwheat pillows instead of fiber fill can help give you a cool space to lie your head at night. I suggest this more than using an ice pack because you don’t run the same risk of ice burn with a rice sock as you do with direct ice.
Preparedness Tip: Keep these instant ice packs in stock not only for first aid, but in the event of hot weather when you are without power. They can really help, but be sure to layer cloth between you and the ice pack to avoid ice burn.
Give your sheets a chill!
May seem weird, but if you put your top sheet (and bottom sheet if you’ve got the room) or pillow case into the fridge during the evening before bedtime, you can have nice cool sheets to fall asleep on. Make sure to wrap them in a bag to keep them from getting dirty or transferring your own stuff into the fridge. We did this when our air conditioning went out years ago, and it helped so much, especially the pillow case.
What’s Your Opinion? Have Solutions?
How do you do it? How do you keep cool when the air conditioning just isn’t enough? Let me know in the comments!