Tuesday, September 7, 2010

8 Ways to Cool Down Without the A/C

After a long weekend of mild days and chilly nights where I live, summer is attempting one more big show with a hot, sunny day followed by thunderstorms in the evening. This presents me with one last opportunity this season to share some energy-saving tips for days like these, lightly paraphrased from Yes! Magazine's Stan Cox from about a month ago (please refer to "Articles I Like" in the column to the right for the full article).
  • Air movement: don't underestimate the power that circulating air has on the temperature your body perceives. That same annoying wind chill factor during the colder months can be put to good use when you're trying to sleep. There were some nights this summer when the cooling breeze from the fan caused me to pull on the duvet in the middle of the night! So keep those windows open and stick fans in them.
  • Seek shelter in the basement: this one needs little explanation because I'm hoping you remember that science class mantra that hot air rises and cool air falls. Also, the ground conducts heat very slowly and stays cool even on the hottest days.
  • Turn into a lazy bum: if you're an avid runner, hit the pavement first thing in the morning or after the sun sets. Restrict physical work during the hottest parts of the day. Also, you're cheating yourself by working out in an air-conditioned gym as this makes you less heat-tolerant while exercising.
  • Power down appliances: unlike my partner, I don't bake bread on hot days. Avoid using the stove, oven, dishwasher, drier, etc. until late in the evening. This also helps to avoid brownouts and blackouts in urban areas by reducing demand on the electricity grid.
  • Water is your friend: not only because you should make sure to stay hydrated, but also because it helps to conduct the heat from your body to the air (which is why sweating, although seemingly unpleasant, actually cools you). Take a dip in a community pool or a very quick cold shower, or join the kids under a sprinkler!
  • Create shade with plants: sitting by a tree-lined patio is nice; cooling your whole house with big trees that block sunlight from hitting your windows and roof is nicer! Also consider building a trellis for your patio: my mom enjoys shade from grapevines that grow over her veranda in the summer.
  • Open your windows at night: homes tend to stay hot even after the sun has gone down. When the outside temperature starts dropping, let it in! Don't just open the windows, place inside-facing fans in them, too.
  • Take an evening stroll: after avoiding sweltering heat and humidity all day, reward yourself by spending time outside when it's nice. Considering fall is around the corner, get out there and soak up what you can before it's gone.
Remember, beating the heat is about keeping your body cool, not turning buildings into fridges!


  1. You can also install window tint on your windows like we did. We have western facing windows, so we suffer from glare and heat during the summer. We found that installing window tint on these windows helped with both problems. Take a look at SnapTint window tint kits, we found their pricing affordable and quick to install.

  2. Thanks for sharing that great tip, Harry!