Tips on keeping cool without air conditioning
For many of us, summer’s heat arrived early, lingering like an unwelcome odor from a hot garbage can. Others, we’re in the thick of it now.
If you don’t have air-conditioning, or just want to keep the planet greener by keeping it turned off, what can you do to keep some cool and get a respite from unrelenting heat?
In 1972, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond released an album recorded on a series of hot August nights—hence the name of the 2-million-selling record album, “Hot August Night.”
Here are some tips to keep your cool this time of year.
You can’t drink (water) all day if you don’t start in the morning. And you should.
Feeling thirsty isn’t just a sign that it’s hot out, it is your body telling you that you are down on your water reserves and should replenish them.
The U.S. Geological Survey, which researches and monitors America’s waters, writes that up to 60% of the human adult body is water. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.
Most health experts say water should be your primary source of hydration, not sports drinks. And no matter how tempting, beer doesn’t do the trick—alcohol actually depletes water in the body.
Embrace the dark
During the day, close all the curtains and blinds in your home and embrace the dark. That’s because the daytime sunlight beaming into your living room and kitchen brings more heat with it, warming up everything it touches.
But when the sun goes down and it starts to cool off, do the reverse: open the shades, blinds, and curtains and even the windows to allow cooler air to come in and let hotter air escape to the outside.
Grab a hot drink
You’re lost in the Sahara under scorching sun and stumble across a Bedouin tending his goats. He urges you to sit in the shade and offers you hot tea. Hot tea! Do you take a drink?
Yes you should! It sounds backwards, but drinking a hot beverage will make you cooler. That’s because it fools the brain and causes you to sweat slightly more which ultimately cools you down.
Everyone knows it’s Windy
Thanks to the pop song from the Association, (Windy, 1967) this is a gentle reminder that a little moving air can make you feel cooler. By strategically placing fans around your room, or even outside on a deck, porch, or patio, those tiny droplets of perspiration on your skin can evaporate and make you feel cooler.
And when used outside, fans help keep mosquitoes and flies from annoying you, too
Go where the cool is
Take some time and visit friends, relatives, or areas you’ve never visited before that are living in cooler climates. It’s a straight shot northward from Texas to Minnesota, and almost always you’ll find cooler weather.
If not, there’s always Alaska and once the borders open up again, beautiful, cool Canada.
Seek the depths
Why did great Grandma have a root cellar and store apples, potatoes, jams, jellies, and other food items there? It was cool.
In the days when the only cold was from ice you carved out of a lake or pond during winter, you saved that for in-the-home food preservation. For longer-term storage, the root (or fruit) cellar maintained a uniformly cool temperature most of the year.
Even if you have a modern home but want to save a few dollars by leaving the AC off, heading to the basement can grant some relief.
Soak in the shade
Ask anyone who works outside for a living, and when it’s time to take a break shade is your friend. Sunlight is energy, carrying heat all the way to ground level.
Getting out of direct sunlight makes you feel cooler because your skin isn’t being constantly irradiated.
Get mist-y eyed
Installing a mister is a great way to keep your cool. A mister produces a very fine mist under pressure that can cool a patio or deck—they even make outdoor umbrellas that contain misters!
Outdoor misters work on the principle of evaporative cooling; when water evaporates into a gas, it gives up heat and that makes the area around it seem cooler. Combine that with a little shade and it can feel comfortable even on the hottest days. They tend to be most effective when the humidity is low, but even on muggy summer days, you can get some relief from the heat.
Get yourself high
Not that kind, but seek actual altitude. Skiers and pilots know this.
The higher you go, the more the departure drops, at a rate of about 5.4 degrees for every 1,000 feet.
As you go higher, air pressure drops, meaning molecules are father apart and less able to transfer heat to your skin. Plus, there are usually fewer things (like buildings, rocks, sidewalks, etc.) to collect heat and radiate it back to you.
It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity
Yeah, right—it’s both! But if you can’t reduce one, work on the other. Dehumidifiers can dry out the air in the room, therefore, reducing moisture that supports heat, and makes the room more comfortable. Again, with fewer water molecules in the air, it feels a little cooler because of evaporation on your skin.
A dehumidifier does not reduce temperature directly, but it creates a dry atmosphere that is cool and gives a comfortable feeling by reducing “clamminess.”
Put the collected water on houseplants or your garden.
You’ve got a friend
Sometimes, just a little while in air conditioning seems to replenish your reserves to deal with heat. Go shopping in a mall, supermarket, or hardware store. Investigate buying that new truck at a dealership. Go out for dinner.
Or, visit friends who have air conditioning—you’ll feel better and might enjoy socializing.
Before there was air conditioning, there was ice