Rather than firing up the central air conditioning, you can keep it off or lower its power in the heat of the summer by exploring some of these low-cost alternatives.
1. Use fans. While fans don’t change the temperature of the air, they increase air movement, which will make you feel cooler by a few degrees. Look for fans with large blades. In general, the large blades will move more air with less power and less noise.
2. Cool the air naturally. If you hang damp sheets in front of your window, air coming into your house or apartment will lower the temperature of the air as it enters.
3. Wear light colors. Black fabric absorbs heat while light-colored fabric reflects. Light-weight fabric allows your skin to breathe. Fashion aside, proper summer clothing can help keep you cool.
4. Install shades and blinds. By keeping your rooms shielded from the sun, you can avoid direct light and heat. Keep the blinds closed during the day and open the windows during the night. There are window coatings available that let in light while keeping out heat. Try searching Home Depot for heat and glare control window films.
5. Wear a cooling bandana. Here’s a stylish way to keep yourself cool. Cooling bandanas can be soaked in water and are worn around the neck. As the water evaporates your body remains cool. You can find cooling bandanas on Amazon.com.
6. Avoid chores. Forget about using the clothes dryer or the oven; these appliances emit heat, so your cooling system must work harder whenever you’re cooking or drying. While the weather is hot, eliminating strenuous chores will help protect your body from dehydration. Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided as well for the same reason.
7. Spray yourself with water. Never was a wet tee-shirt contest a better idea. Keep yourself wet with sprinklers outdoors or spritzers (water bottles with a spraying handle) indoors.
8. Leave the house. Take advantage of large businesses that must keep their air conditioners running to keep customers comfortable; take a trip to the mall. If you do stay in and run the air conditioner, however, keep the thermostat high and supplement the house cooling with fans.
Where I live, the temperature has been above 90 degrees lately, with the heat index over 100 this past weekend. I don’t have it quite as bad as those in Texas, for example, but heat makes everyone uncomfortable. As someone I knew used to say, you can only remove so many layers of clothing.
Beat the Heat Without Busting the Budget, Rodika Tollefson, LifeWire
Published or updated July 23, 2008.