alternatives to air conditioning
Even if you’re not willing to completely forgo the air-conditioner this summer, here are a ten things you can do to stay cool that don’t involve turning on the AC:
1. Stay hydrated. There’s some debate about whether drinking ice water cools you down any more than drinking room temperature water, but there’s no doubt that staying hydrated is one of the best ways to beat the heat.
2. Draw your curtains. Keeping light at bay during the brightest, hottest hours of the day will significantly reduce the heat that gets trapped in your house. Draw your curtains during the day and enjoy cooler nights.
3. Undress your bed. Light-colored bed clothes will make hot nights much more pleasant. If you like to sleep with a blanket, consider a lightweight wool or linen blanket that doesn’t trap heat.
4. Relocate your bed. Heat rises, so if you’re used to sleeping on the second story, consider a temporary relocation to the ground floor. You’ll stay cooler and you’ll have the chance to build a pillow fort!
5. Cool your pillow. This one sounds a little crazy, but keeping your head cool will keep the rest of your body cool. If you have trouble falling asleep in warm weather, consider popping your pillow in the freezer for an hour before bed (wrap it in a plastic bag to stave off ice crystals). On the subject of pillows: synthetic pillows trap heat more than pillows made of natural fibers. Consider a buckwheat-filled pillow to allow for improved air circulation.
6. Use fans, lots of them. When you’re trying to cut down on your use of electricity, turning on fans can seem counter intuitive. Don’t they suck up energy as much as air-conditioning? The truth is that fans, even many of them, are not nearly the energy-guzzlers that air-conditioners are. We keep one at the foot of our bed all summer long.
7. Wardrobe change. Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothes to wear all summer. Cotton, silk, and linen will help you stay considerably cooler than synthetic alternatives.
8. Hang dry your clothes. Avoiding the use of heat-generating appliances will keep down the temperature of your entire house. Instead of turning on the dryer, consider hanging your clothes to dry outside. (For more on air-drying your clothes, see my piece called Laundry, the Old-fashioned Way).
9. Challenge yourself to a week of no-cook foods. In our tiny apartment, I’m always shocked to realize how much hotter the place gets even with just one burner on.
10. Make popsicles. Okay. This one might be just a little indulgent, but eating frozen treats is my favorite way to cool down on a hot day. Last weekend I made my first batch of popsicles of the summer: strawberry-coconut. Here’s the recipe:
1 can coconut milk
10-15 ripe strawberries (with the greens cut off)
2 tablespoons sugar to taste
3 tablespoons dehydrated coconut
Mix ingredients together in a blender and fill popsicle molds ¾ way full, freeze overnight. Enjoy!