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The summer heat has began it’s uncomfortable arrival for the season. While I invite the warmer temps with open arms, sometimes… it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. When that humidity starts skyrocketing and/or the thermometer starts pushing triple digits. Well, that’s just uncalled for, no one needs all that hot nastiness.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have air conditioning… not even a little window unit like my friend down the road did. We had nada. I revisited the unpleasantness of hot humid weather creeping its way into my house when we lived in a 100 year old farm house with very little shade and the shade it did have was poorly placed at best. So, I’ve had my fair share of life without air conditioning.
Living without air conditioning isn’t all that bad, really. My problem? If I get too hot, I break out in hives. Seriously. Sounds crazy, right? I can’t get in a hot bath, take a hot shower, get in a sauna, or get too hot outside without getting hives. So, while technically you could just turn it off and deal with the heat, I literally can’t. Unless I want an itchy rash all over my body (and I don’t).
So, I need to live without it while staying cool. Believe me when I tell you, I honestly thought this was a complete impossibility. We haven’t experienced heat the past two or three summers like we usually do, but this year has finally caught up with us. How does one stay cool without the almighty air conditioner?
1. Have well placed shade trees.
This definitely isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight (or even over the course of a year). However, having well-placed shade trees that shade your home makes one heck of a difference. Keeping the southern side of your home well-shaded will help keep the hottest heat of the day out of your house.
Unfortunately, our current house has no shade. Zilch. And our septic takes up a large portion of our southern face, so adding beneficial shade isn’t going to be easy or cheap for us. But, add it if you can, how you can. It helps, a ton.
2. Keep your window coverings pulled.
My house has a lot of windows and I love natural light filling the room. I don’t like that the natural light heats up the room quicker than a grill on the Fourth of July. I have room darkening shades in the bedrooms and leave them closed in the summer (unless the clouds are insane). We have light filtering shades in the living spaces and I leave those closed as well.
I’m actually considering adding the room darkening shades to the remainder of the windows. It’s amazing how hot that south facing sun gets (and it hits our house all afternoon long because the back of it is southern facing).
3. Spend time outside.
We spend most of our day outside anyway, so I don’t even notice how hot it gets, most of the time. Unless, of course, the sun is beating down (it’s been doing a lot of that lately). But, we can just turn on the hose and have some fun in the yard. Or have a water balloon fight.
Truth be told, I’m considering a pool simply because it would be great to get in there to cool off in the midst of garden work 😉.
4. When you’re in, leave the lights off.
The sun isn’t the only light source heating up your house. All light sources emit some heat. The coolest option for electric light is an LED bulb. They remain fairly cool to the touch, though they still emit some heat. This shouldn’t be too difficult with the summer sun not sinking below the horizon until well past 9, but… while you’re at it, just keep all the electronics off. All electrical components emit heat.
5. Turn on the fans (counterclockwise).
Ceiling fans help cool off more than we give them credit for. You’d be amazed at how quickly they can help cool down a room. Have a especially warm room? Put some cold, wet rags on the blades and turn it on! The cold on the rags will circulate into the air. Viola… homemade air conditioning on a budget. No ceiling fans? That’s alright. Grab a box fan, put a pan full of ice in front of it and reap the benefits of the cool air evaporating off the ice and blowing straight toward you (you did sit down in front of the fan, right?).
6. Soak your feet.
Not the warm epsom salt kind of foot soak usually associated with someone telling you to soak your feet. This was a fave of mine as a child. We would all be super (I’m talking on fire) hot. Our solution? Put cold water in the tub, throw in a few ice cubes and sit on the edge and let our feet soak in the coolness of the water. We had some great family bonding moments sitting there in our jammies cooling off our feet, too! Which brings me to….
7. Wear loose fitting, cotton clothing.
Wearing tight clothes and/or synthetic fabric is not going to keep you cool. You need loose fitting, breathable fabrics covering your body. While some swear by going to bed sans clothing, I cannot attest to that. I’ve got kids! Make sure whatever you select to wear is loose, lightweight, breathable, and a light color. Don’t go walking around in black polyester on a 100 degree day (unless you want to lose a bunch of weight and repel people from coming near ya, then by all means… go forth and sweat it out!).
8. Change your bedding.
Natural fibers on your bed are best. Why? Because they are more breathable and naturally wick moisture away from your skin. Cotton is lightweight, breathable, and affordable. Bamboo sheets have a natural cool feeling to them as well. Also consider buckwheat pillows. Buckwheat does not absorb heat like other pillow fillings do. There are tons of options available, just do your research to pick what will best suit your needs!
9. Hydrate yourself.
You should be drinking plenty of water to stay healthy anyway. Make sure you’ve got some ice cubes in that drink, though! It’s like instant cool off. Another fun cool off “beverage” is to make some popsicles. I highly recommend making your own though, those store-bought things have tons of sugar and that can actually be dehydrating.
10. Cook outside or eat things that don’t need cooked.
Turning on your oven, or even your stove, is going to heat things up quickly. Try your hand at cooking on the grill, or another outdoor method to avoid cooking inside. Eat salads and other fresh foods that don’t require cooking for many of your meals. Another option is to use the crockpot which will heat things up a bit, but not a ton.
11. Line dry your clothes.
Aside from the stove, the clothes dryer is one of the biggest heat producing appliances in your home. Don’t turn it on! Use the warm weather for what it’s worth and dry your clothes on the line. They’ll last longer anyway. Need more tips on living without a clothes dryer? Check out this post!
See, you can definitely live without the air conditioning and stay cool. While it may not be as great as the air conditioner, it’s a close second. The savings you will see on your electric bill will make the extra effort worth it. Even if you break down and turn it on once in a while, these tips will make a drastic difference in how often you need it and how long you keep it running!