Baby, it's hot outside! Summer is sweet, but it can also be sweltering. How can you cope when the heat index reaches unbearable levels, and you find yourself without air conditioning?
Do you live in a home or apartment without AC? Are you going green and cutting your energy usage? Or has a sudden storm knocked out the power where you live? Here are 15 ways to keep it cool, even when it's blazing outside.
1. Seek shade.
Awnings, roof overhangs and giant leafy plantings help to keep a home cooler. Smart house hunters know this trick well. Picking a home with mature trees can lead to huge utility savings each year.
2. Claim a cross wind.
Opening one or two windows is not enough to cool an apartment or house. Fling up those sashes, and let the fresh breezes in. Just be sure to grab a few paperweights.
3. Find the fans.
Window box fans and oscillating units help dramatically, removing sweltering still air. Fill a flat bowl with ice, and stick it in front of a fan to add even more cooling.
You can even make your own paper hand fan to cool off your face.
4. Unplug unnecessary appliances.
The television, microwave, laundry unit, computer and other plug-ins may create unnecessary heat and add to your utility bill. If you're not using it, pull the plug.
5. Do it in the dark.
Pull the blinds or window shades throughout your home to keep solar heat out on the dog days of summer. Hoist the window dressings just enough for airy openings.
6. Create a cooling zone.
Instead of air conditioning your whole house or apartment, why not stick a single AC window unit in one room? Seal up the chamber for a cozy and cool gathering spot.
7. Hunker down below.
Basements are usually quite comfortable in hot weather. Make it fun! Have a subterranean party that's actually cool.
8. Slow it down.
Lethargy tends to sink in when the heat index goes up. Doing less in hot, humid weather is not always a bad thing. Play it cool. Take a siesta. Sit back, and ride out the heat wave with a great book or that movie you have been planning to watch.
9. Hydrate heavily.
Our bodies naturally sweat in heat to cool us off. Replace and replenish these lost fluids with plenty of water or sports drinks.
10. Avoid overeating.
Calories equal heat, at least metabolically, so it's smart to eat more moderately in hot weather. Sweets may make plenty of people feel downright icky on the stickiest days.
High temperatures also may discourage us from firing up the stove or oven.
11. Dress to de-stress.
Loose cotton clothing helps cool wearers off. Layers of snug and synthetic items trap body heat. Dress for comfort, and put your hair up.
12. Soak yourself.
Water misters and cooling neck wraps are super for hot weather, especially under casual conditions, where a crisp and clean appearance is not needed.
13. Enjoy an ice pack.
A frozen first aid pack is even more refreshing than a fruit pop on a hot summer night. Make your own by filling a white cotton sock with uncooked rice, tying it shut and sticking it in the freezer for a few hours.
14. Go out for a while.
If all else fails, head for the local library or the cinema to cool off for a while. Take a drive, browse favorite stores, or step into a diner for a shake.
15. Bring in the big guns.
Consider installing an attic fan to cool the entire house. Starting at about $100, jet fans draw hot air up and out.
It is indeed possible to chill out in hot weather without sub-zero air conditioning. What additional steps can you add for coping ecologically and economically with summer swelter?
More from this contributor:
Linda Ann Nickerson brings decades of experience and a globally-minded Midwestern perspective to a host of topics, balancing human interest with history, hard facts and often humor.