Air conditioning isn’t the only way to keep cool on a hot day. But there’s more you can do besides hanging out at the mall, beach or sitting in a tub of cold water to beat the heat. Here are some tips that can help you stay cooler and even save a few bucks this summer.
Boost Your Air Conditioner
If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, don’t squander your good fortune. You’ll save on electric costs and get better performance out of a well-maintained air conditioner unit. For central air, follow the manual’s instructions or hire a technician. For window units, keep filters and vents clean and make sure insulation between the unit and window is tight and in good shape.
You know the drill. Natural fabrics, nothing too tight and light colors to reflect the sun. And people wear sandals in the summer for a reason. The open shoe removes heat – and cooler feet means cooler body.
There’s also a new fabric on the market specifically made for wicking away moisture, AKA sweat. Under Armor is a popular but expensive brand of temperature regulating clothing. But everyone’s on this bandwagon now, so you can find lots of alternatives at lower prices. Look for “moisture wicking” or “performance” in the name or description.
They have cooling mats for dogs, so why not humans? Well..don’t try to use a dog mat for yourself. They’re not meant for heavier creatures. Look for bamboo wood mats to place on furniture or under bottom sheets. Yes, I said bamboo. It’s naturally cooling plus acts as a ventilated shield when placed on hotter materials.
Keeping your head cool (whether sleeping or not) can keep the rest of you cool, too. You can buy cooling mats (like the Chillow, pictured above) to place on your pillow or behind your head when you’re sitting to beat the heat. Wrapping a cooled cloth or gel filled “scarf” around your neck can help, too.
Memory foam is a wonderful thing, but it’s as hot – if not hotter – than a standard mattresses. You can buy mattress toppers and pads made from materials better at temperature regulation like bamboo, modal, rayon, silk or Outlast fabric. Sheets can be found in those same materials, but they can be costly. But regularly available sheets made from 100% cotton percale or oxford cloth breath better than other types of sheets. Yes, they wrinkle easily, but that’s a small price to pay! The “hottest” sheets include sateen, knits, those blended with polyester and, of course, flannel.
For sleepwear, get something made from those same fabrics. And there’s no shame in sleeping in your moisture wicking shirts and/or shorts. As for sleeping in the buff, best to use a sheet or a fan to absorb or evaporate moisture to keep you from getting sticky.
One more sleep tip. Some people swear that spraying sheets lightly with water or keeping a frozen hot water bottle at the foot of the bed have cooling effects.
It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity
Lowering the humidity indoors can really make you feel cooler. Sadly, typical home air conditioners – including central air – can only do so much. Consider a dehumidifier which, when you choose the right size, can make a noticeable improvement. The only downside is that they’re noisy and unless you can place them near a drain, you have to empty them all the time. For smaller areas, products like Damp Rid can help a little.
Avoid adding more humidity, too. Run the bathroom fan when taking a shower or bath – for the duration of your shower and as long as you can afterwards. Avoid stove top cooking (or hot ovens for that matter). Use appliances like toaster ovens or crockpots instead. Or grill outdoors if you can.
Be Smart with the Fan
Fan’s help keep you cool by moving air and aiding in moisture evaporation. In the bedroom, place it so it hits your cheeks (but not too close as doing so long term can actually damage nerves!). Can’t stand the wind on your face? Point it towards your feet which you should keep uncovered.
If you have central air or a window unit, place the fan in front of the vent or unit to push the cooler air further. Tilt the fan upward if you can to let the cooler air fall.
Don’t put a fan in the window if it’s humid or you’ll just draw all that muggy air in. But if you have no other place to put your fan, make sure it’s set up to take the air out of the house. When the outside air does cool down, reverse direction to bring it in.
Around the House
Draw blinds or curtains to keep rooms from heating up and close doors to rooms you don’t use to keep them from “stealing” the cool air from the rest of the house. Keep incandescent off or replace them with other types of bulbs that don’t generate as much heat. And make sure heated appliances – coffee makers, hair styling tools, irons and the like – are turned off as soon as you’re finished with them.
- Take a cool shower before bedtime to reduce your body temperature and get it ready for sleep. Standing in front of a fan while slightly damp can cool you even more.
- Give the “Dickens Dance” a try. Named for author Charles Dickens who regularly did the “dance”, try walking around slowly while waving your arms up and down. According to “legend”, it can temporarily cool you off.