While the longer days of spring and summer can be just what the doctor ordered to elevate your mood, the oppressive temperatures that can roll in during June, July, and August might not always be so joyous. That’s why it’s essential to start preparing in advance to make sure you’re able to keep your house cool all summer long.
Obviously, adjusting the thermostat on your air conditioner would be the easiest way to beat the heat. But not all of us have that luxury. And, even if we did, not all of us would choose that option. The more air conditioning units that are running, the more hot air they produce, so that solution is actually part of the problem.
If you'd like to get some tips and strategies for keeping you and your house cool in the summer without running up your electricity bill, keep reading. For those of you who have a patio or a deck, we have a few ideas on how to keep your outside space cool as well.
Heat rises. The easiest way to stay cool is to limit your daytime activities to the lower levels of your house. If you have an office on the second floor, for instance, you might want to consider moving it to the basement.
Some homes have rooms that just get hotter than the rest of the house. The quick fix is to simply shut the door (and keep it shut) so the heat is somewhat trapped. If you'd like to take it a step further, blackout curtains can dramatically reduce the heat that is transferred through your windows. A similar tactic is to apply heat control film to your windows. If you’re up for a slightly larger project, consider insulating your attic and making sure that it’s ventilating properly.
Did you know that hotter air always moves towards cooler air? If the air in your house is cooler than the air outside your house, opening a window will actually draw warm air in. That's why you don’t want to open windows on a hot day. However, at night, when the air in your house is warmer than the air outside, opening windows will draw the hot air out, making your home a much more comfortable temperature. A window fan is a great way to increase airflow.
While fans don't actually lower the temperature in your home, they make you feel cooler and that's what matters most when you're hot. The best part about fans is how many different types there are. You can use a ceiling fan, a desktop fan, or an air circulator to cool you off. If you place a frozen bottle of water in front of a fan, you can make your own private air conditioner. If you’re serious about using a fan to cool off, an attic fan can actually reduce the temperature of your house by pushing the hot attic air out and replacing it with cooler air from the outside.
If your home or apartment doesn't have a central air conditioner but you're desperate to cool off, you're not totally out of luck. You can buy a portable unit without spending too much. They're compact enough even for small spaces, they can be added to any room that needs it, and they won't break any restrictions on window units. They also cool and dehumidify simultaneously, making them ideal for humid summer climates.
It can be difficult to sleep when you're hot, so you should do everything in your power to help ensure a refreshing night of slumber. No caffeine, chocolate, or large meals before bedtime. If possible, sleep on a lower level of your house and sleep alone (no shared body heat). Sleep in a comfortable, breathable material and use a cooling pillow that absorbs the heat from your head and neck, making you feel cooler all night.
When the temperature inside your home becomes uncomfortably warm, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven and increase that discomfort. On the other hand, having a barbecue turns a meal into an event while keeping that unwanted extra heat out of your house. If you don't have a grill, consider preparing meals that can be cooked in a microwave.
Digestion requires effort. The more you consume, the harder the body has to work to digest that meal, especially if it is a protein-heavy meal. When your body works hard, your core temperature elevates. Even if your home is a comfortable temperature, eating a large meal can make you feel uncomfortably warm or even hot. The solution is to keep meals light during hotter weather, eating more often, but in much smaller portions. A summer salad is a healthy, light option during the warmer months.
A quick and easy way to lower your body temperature is to simply take a cool shower. Better yet, if you don't want to get all wet, take a foot spa or large basin and fill it up with cold water. When you stick your feet in, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much cooler this small action can make you feel. Or you can get the whole family in on the fun with a kiddie pool: The adults can soak their feet while the kids play.
There are a number of products on the market that are specifically designed to help keep you cool. These products basically serve the same function as sweating: They remove body heat through evaporation. Some of the most popular options are cooling headbands and cooling towels.
Avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun's harmful rays is something that you should be doing anyway, but it's even more important on those unbearably hot days. If you don't have tree covering or any other protection from the sun, consider getting a shade sail. These affordable items are typically easy to set up, and they provide both shade and protection from the sun's harmful UV rays. Additionally, you may want to get a misting fan or a patio misting kit to provide additional cooling.
Your body has a built-in system that is designed to keep you cool, you just need to fuel it to keep it working properly. Drinking water is not only the best way to stay cool – when you are dehydrated, your body has a tendency to retain heat – but it’s also the easiest way to stay healthy.
Over the course of a normal day, the average person needs to drink at least a half-gallon of water. However, the hotter it is, the more you sweat and the more you have to up that minimum to keep your body properly hydrated. Instead of purchasing a case of disposable bottled water and adding to the plastic islands that pollute our oceans, consider getting a water filter pitcher and a refillable water bottle.
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.