Air conditioning can be a godsend in the humid summer heat, but not all of us are fortunate to have air conditioning in our homes and many of us who do have it
have the smaller units that only cool one room. Running an air conditioner is also a big drain on our resources, both energy and financial!
Depending on what part of the country you live in, many summer days may be hot but managable, without running the AC to cool things off, with just a few tips.
Maybe these few tips that I've gathered might help....
1. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. Avoid soft drinks and caffeine, these will dehydrate you, as does alcohol
2. Dress for the season when inside your house. Wear shorts and a light shirt. Loose fitting clothes are cooler and more comfortable than tight fitting garments. Go barefoot or wear sandals. Natural fabrics are cooler than synthetics. At night, use light cotton sheets on your bed. Minimize indoor fabrics, as fabric increases interior humidity. This is good in the winter, but bad in the summer. People living without air conditioning should probably opt for no carpet on the floors; during the winter they can lay down area rugs, but roll them up and put them away during the summer.
3. In the summer, shade is your friend. Keep the sun's heat from hitting windows, doors, walls. Install window shades on the outside of your house; indoor curtains are not enough (although they will help). Once the sun hits the glass and window frame, the heat is conducted inside the house, even if you have indoor curtains, so shade them in addition to your curtains.
It is easy and inexpensive to make your own outdoor window shades One idea is to use mylar covered auto sun shades that are about 5' X 2'. They only cost a few dollars at local stores. Duct tape two or three of them together (depending on the size of the window) and hang them on the outside of the windows. Cover that with a white roll up shade, which is mostly for appearance. An inexpensive bamboo roll-up window shade works fine. One or more curtains inside will help, and choose white or another light color (sheets are do-able and cheap, & more is better). Don't forget to shade the doors if you don't have a porch. Shade cloth is available and can be used over windows, although it costs more.
The best choice for your wall shade is vegetation. Although it takes many years to grow a tall tree, vines grow in just a few weeks. Morning glories provide plenty of shade plus flowers that are beautiful to look at. Try grape vines on your trellis, so not only will you get shade, you'll also get tasty grapes to eat.
If you have indoor thermal mass, such as concrete or brick floors, a masonry fireplace, etc., make sure it is shaded so it doesn't soak up heat during the day. (The opposite of what you want to do in the winter, of course.)
3. When keeping cool without any air conditioning, the basic rule is: keep the house closed up during the day when it is hot outside, and ventilate it in the evening and at night when it is cooler.
Natural ventilation maintains indoor temperatures close to outdoor temperatures and helps remove heat from your home. But only ventilate during the coolest parts of the day or night, and seal off your house from the hot sun and air during the hottest parts of the day.
The climate you live in determines the best ventilation strategy. In areas with cool nights and very hot days, let the night air in to cool your house. A well-insulated house will gain only 1°F (0.6°C) per hour if the outside temperature is 85° to 90°F (29° to 32°C). By the time the interior heats up, the outside air should be cooler and can be allowed indoors.
In climates with daytime breezes, open windows on the side from where the breeze is coming and on the opposite side of the house. Keep interior doors open to encourage whole-house ventilation. If your location lacks consistent breezes, create them by opening windows at the lowest and highest points in your house.
In hot, humid climates where temperature swings between day and night are small, ventilate when humidity is not excessive.
Ventilating your attic greatly reduces the amount of accumulated heat, which eventually works its way into the main part of your house. Ventilated attics are about 30°F (16°C) cooler than unventilated attics. Properly sized and placed louvers and roof vents help prevent moisture buildup and overheating in your attic.
4. Keep the air moving around inside. Use ceiling fans and rotating fans to create breezes in the house during the day and the night. Moving air can knock ten degrees off of the apparent temperature, so fans can add considerably to indoor comfort. They can also be used in conjunction with conventional air conditioning. With breezes inside, you can set the thermostat temperature higher than would be the case without the fans. Box fans are good for use in windows, but for other indoor uses, they are inefficient and usually noisy, rotary fans are better. Variable speed fans will help you get the right amount of air.
5. Insulation and weatherization help moderate indoor temperatures in the summer too. Minimizing leaks will help you keep your "coolth" inside.
6. Minimize heat buildup inside the house.
Often-overlooked sources of interior heat gain are lights and household appliances, such as ovens, dishwashers, and dryers.
Because most of the energy that incandescent lamps use is given off as heat, use them only when necessary. Take advantage of daylight to illuminate your house. And consider switching to compact fluorescent lamps. These use about 75% less energy than incandescent lamps, and emit 90% less heat for the same amount of light.
Many household appliances generate a lot of heat. When possible, use them in the morning or late evening when you can better tolerate the extra heat. Consider cooking on an outside barbecue grill or use a microwave oven, which does not generate as much heat and uses less energy than a gas or electric range.
Washers, dryers, dishwashers, and water heaters also generate large amounts of heat and humidity. To gain the most benefit, seal off your laundry room and water heater from the rest of the house.
New, energy-efficient appliances generate less heat and use less energy. When it is time to purchase new appliances, make sure they are energy efficient. All refrigerators, dishwashers, and dryers display an EnergyGuide label indicating the annual estimated cost for operating the appliance or a standardized energy efficiency ratio. Also, many manufacturers participate in the voluntary EnergyStar labeling program. Use this label as a sign of energy-efficiency.Compare appliances and buy the most efficient models for your needs.
7. If the heat becomes oppressive, dowse your head, arms, and feet with cool water, or take a cool shower, or (my favorite) go outside and dowse yourself with a water hose. Keep a spray bottle of cool water handy, and give yourself a spritz of cool water every once in a while.
Here are a few more tips for keeping your cool...
>Run cold water over your inside wrists.
>Set a bowl of ice or cold water in front of a moving fan.
>Dampen your clothing.
>Use a wet washcloth on your forehead. Move it often to help release heat.
>Put your feet in a basin of cool (not cold) water.
>Be lazy. When the temperature soars, sit.
>Wear loose, light - colored, cotton clothing.
>Drink water, and plenty of it. It's cheap preventative medicine. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and stress.
>Eat light, as in fruits and raw vegetables. Go easy on protein; it increases your body's heat production.
>Daydream - snowstorm, cool rain, the North Pole. Cheap relief!
>Sprinkle your bed sheets with water before you go to bed on hot nights.
>Make a simple icepack, (small plastic bag and a handful of ice works just fine) and wear it on top of your head. You may wish to put a cloth underneath the pack. If you are moving around, a hat will hold the pack in place, and keep the sun off your head as well. Most body heat is lost through the head so this really helps cool your entire body! This works beautifully at home, in the car, and even in direct sun.
>Nylon and rayon blends are hotter than plain cottons. Skip the pantyhose whenever possible.
>When you shower and use underarm anti-perspirant, it should be also applied under the breasts and on the inside of the thighs. This prevents heat rash and stops fungus from forming.
(well, so "they" say… I haven't tried this myself and if I did, I would sure try it on a very small patch of skin first-
I'd hate to end up with one heck of a rash!)
>To save on air conditioning, keep doors to bedrooms, baths, laundry, etc., shut during the day and cool the actual living space in use. If bedroom blinds are closed during the day and the door is kept shut, it's easy to cool it in the evening by opening the door an hour before you plan to retire.
>Evaporative cooling in its simplest form - wet your t-shirt, wring it out, wear it. Simple and effective.
(but unless you plan on entertaining your neighbors or winning the nearest bar's wet t-shirt contest,
keep this one in the privacy of your own home!)
>Keep a supply of damp washcloths in plastic bags in the freezer for cooling off. Put 5 or 6 of them in separate bags and use them to cool down. Use different color cloths for each family member and each person will have one or two frozen cloths of their own.
>Put ice cubes in the humidifier at night, and point the fan right at the bed. The ice melts slowly and you will get a cool breeze all night.
>Keep your top sheet and pillowcase in the freezer and put them on the bed just before retiring for a cool sleep!