Of course, an air conditioner is one obvious solution to cooling down the inside of your house or apartment on a hot, summer day. But not everyone has an air conditioner (if you’re tempted, we do know where you can get a great one). If AC doesn’t suit you, you’ll need to find a way to survive this summer.
So what’s a sweltering Canadian to do during a heat wave? Here are some ways you can cool down your space without an air conditioner.
Obviously, everyone’s first choice for easy home cooling is a good-quality fan. But did you know that there are optimal ways to set up fans in your home to maximize cooling?
- The first thing to remember is that fans cool off people, not air, so make sure there is a fan in the room where people are – running a fan in an empty room doesn’t really cool it off.
- If the air outside your home is cooler than inside, place the fan in front of an open window pointing into the room. If it’s warmer outside than inside, flip the fan around to encourage warm air inside to head outside.
- Ceiling fans in your home? Lucky you! Make sure they’re spinning counter-clockwise on a higher speed to create a wind-chill effect.
- If you need that extra dose of chill, kick it old school and put a bowl of ice directly under a fan. The cool air and dampness coming off of the ice will make a difference.
- Your bathroom exhaust fan can also suck some of the unwanted heat and humidity out of a smaller space, so open the bathroom door and keep that thing going.
Put your windows to work
If you live in a multi-level house, you can hack your windows to get the most out of any outside breezes. To create a cooling pressure current, open the top section of windows on the downwind side of your house, and open the bottom section of windows on the upwind side.
If you live on one floor with windows on both sides, figure out which direction the breeze is blowing, open the windows wide on the downwind side, and close them a bit on the upwind side. Add fans in front of the windows pointing in the direction of the outside breeze. Like this:
Also try hanging a damp bed sheet in front of an open upwind window to increase the cool factor.
Close off unused rooms
If you’re doing your darndest to cool off the room you’re in, make sure to close the doors of the other rooms of the house that you’re not in to maximize your cooling efficiency.
Throw some shade
Up to 30% of unwanted heat comes through your windows, so be sure to close your blinds and curtains during the hot part of the day, especially on south and west-facing windows. If you’re in a house, consider also planting trees near south and west-facing windows to create your own cool shade.
To nude or not to nude
There is a hot debate (pardon the pun) about whether or not sleeping naked actually does keep you cooler. If you want to go in the buff, there is evidence to show that it can keep your body temperature down. But if you sweat a lot, it can actually make you hotter, because natural fabrics draw the sweat away from your body and make you feel more comfortable. It basically comes down to a matter of personal choice, so if you do choose to sleep in clothes on a hot night, go for loose-fitting, natural fabrics, like cotton.
Let the night in
If the air is cooler at night where you live, make the most of it by throwing open every window possible for the entire night, then closing them up when the day starts to get hot. You’ll keep the house cool for at least part of the day by capturing those sweet evening breezes.
Use a hot water bottle
No, don’t put hot water in it, silly. Fill it with water, put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then put it at the end of the bed to keep your feet cool while you sleep.
Put other weird stuff in the freezer
Your freezer is a strong ally in the battle against overheating. Clear out those freezer-burnt french fries and make room for your pyjamas, socks, t-shirts, pillow cases and bedsheets. Keep them in there until you’re ready to use them for some extra cooling help.
Switch to compact fluorescent lights
CFLs make sense for energy savings and environmental impact, but did you know that old-fashioned incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy in the heat they emit? So ditching them will not only save on your energy bill, you’ll also save yourself some unwanted heat.
If the weather is unusually hot, make sure to drink more water than usual. You’re likely sweating more, but if you’re not properly hydrated, your body can’t produce the sweat it needs to cool off the surface of the skin, and you’ll be hotter than you need to be. Hydration is especially important at night when you’re trying to get some sleep. Have a small glass of ice cold water right before you go to bed, and keep an insulated bottle of water with ice beside your bed for any late-night sweat sessions.
Bored of drinking all that water? We’ve got some yummy tips to make your plain water more fun.
Freeze your snacks
The key to staying cool without outside help is chilling your insides. Eating and drinking cold things doesn’t just taste good, it helps reduce your body temperature. And it doesn’t just have to be ice cream! Here are some ideas for healthy and simple bedtime snacks you can try this summer:
- Watermelon wedges – simply cut up a watermelon, put the wedges in a container in the freezer for a couple of hours, and let thaw for 5 min before eating
- Blueberries – thaw for 5 min before eating. Also nice in yogurt or ice water.
- Grapes – same as above. Are you seeing a pattern?
- Banana “Ice Cream” – peel and freeze ripe bananas, then simply blend and serve in a bowl.
- Yogurt – open individual yogurt cups, add a paper straw or popsicle stick and freeze for super simple frozen yogurt pops.
- Juice pops – add 100% pure fruit juice to frozen pop moulds.
Hit the showers
A cool shower anytime of the day will do wonders to beat the heat. If the heat is keeping you awake at night, stop the insanity, hop out of bed and treat yourself to a 5-minute mini-shower, then hop back into bed. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll get comfortable.
Wet your bed
…but not in the way you think. Before you hit the hay, dampen your sheets with a spray bottle of cool water. You could even add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to the bottle for an aromatherapy boost! You’ll thank us in the morning.
Have you got any hacks for beating the heat that we missed? Let us know in the comments!