It’s starting to heat up around the country. Here in Los Angeles, it usually doesn’t really get hot until late June or early July, but right now we’re being walloped by a heat wave, just two weeks after the last one.
This is the perfect time to start planning how you’ll keep cool this summer. Aside from last year’s tips for efficient air-conditioning use, here are a few tips that will save you money, too.
Ten Ways to Stay Cool This Summer
There’s one really expensive way to keep cool: crank up the AC to full blast and let it run until icicles drip off your furniture. If you’ve got cash to spare and don’t mind killing the earth, go for it. If you want to be kind to your wallet and the environment, consider these instead.
Install a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are much more affordable than AC because they draw less power. They also keep the air circulating in the room so you feel cooler than the air actually is. Unless it’s a really hot, really flat day, the fan should help keep you cool enough to sleep at night, especially if you can also open a window to allow fresh air in.
Use Box and Stand Fans
If you can’t install a ceiling fan, or need something more, then it’s time to stock up on box fans and stand fans. A stand fan will rotate, which creates a breeze in the room. Box fans are stationary, but you can turn them into air-drawing devices. First place two or three box fans in strategic positions facing into the room, then place one in the window facing out. In theory, this draws the warm air out of the room. At the very least, it will create airflow and prevent you from feeling sticky.
Run the AC Just Before Bed
We usually run our AC just before we go to bed so that we’re comfortable enough to sleep. Since we live on the first floor above a garage, our apartment really heats up about 10 PM. Set the AC to turn off about 30 minutes after you get in bed so you don’t waste energy once you’re asleep. If you have pets and want to keep the comfortable, crank it up to 80 while you’re gone during the day, then set it to 78 when you get home.
Open the Windows
If there’s a nice breeze outside, then open all your windows to create a nice cross-breeze. Keep them closed and the drapes drawn during the day to prevent the sun from heating the room.
Avoid the Oven
If you can, avoid using the oven on really hot days because it will heat up your home. Instead, do as much grilling as possible.
I don’t know why, but eating lighter foods makes me feel cooler. During the summer, I tend to eat a lot of salads, light fish and chicken, grilled foods, and cold pastas. I save the heavy dishes for winter when the extra weight makes me feel warmer.
Drink Cool, But Not Cold Beverages
Maybe it’s just me, but I find that water that’s just below room temperature, as opposed to ice-water, is actually more refreshing on a hot day. Cold water is bracing, but it’s almost like a shock to the system. Adding a slice of lemon or lime makes me feel a lot cooler, too.
Install a Window Unit in the Bedroom
If your ceiling and box fans just aren’t cutting it, consider installing a window unit that you only run before bed so the room gets cool enough to sleep.
Choose Lighter Sheets
We use light cotton sheets year-round. If you tend to switch to heavier sheets in the winter, choose an all cotton blend so your body can breathe at night.
Take a Cool Shower
You don’t necessarily want a bracing shower, but jumping in a cool shower for just a minute will cool down your skin and remove any sweat or stickiness that makes you feel hotter. Dry off with a fresh towel, then jump into your pajamas and go straight to bed. You’ll fall asleep feeling cool and refreshed.
Install Blinds or Window Coverings
Keep the heat out with quality, many of which can qualify for energy reduction tax credits. If you don’t already have blinds, that credit can help cover the cost. If you do have blinds, close them during the day to keep cool.
Of course, you could always just go naked, but then you’d have to close the drapes. That might be cooler, but there goes your breeze. Personally, I’ll stick with the ten suggestions above.