The WHAT and WHY:
Did you know that 69,000 daily heat records have been broken around the country so far this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Compare that with last year —the hottest year on record — when only 57,000 daily records had been set by this date. To some, global warming is considered a hoax, I suggest they read Bill McKibben’s article in the Daily Beast.
A Boston colleague complained they beat the 2014 record for “hottest day of the year”. He hates air-conditioning and has inspired us to address the definition of “sustainably cool”.
One could define that two ways; however, today, we’ll deal with the what/why and how to keep yourself and your home at a desirable temperature. Next week, we’ll attempt to define the other.
Today, we’ll deal with how to keep yourself and your home at a desirable temperature.
This week’s practice is to try several new sustainable measures in each area; let us know how they work for you.
The HOW for a cooler home without AC:
1. Close your blinds and curtains throughout the hottest part of the day.
2. Open windows at night. Open selected windows allowing cool air in.
3. Cool down the house with fans. Ceiling fans and attic fans can be positioned to draw off heat in upper rooms.
4. Make a DIY air conditioner. Put ice into a metal bowl and position a portable fan so that it is blowing over the ice. Or freeze 2 one-gallon jugs of water, place in pan to collect drips, then place in front of fan. Bottles can be refrozen and used repeatedly. See DIY “AC” in a cooler under Deep Dive.
5. Turn off all heat sources and avoid heat generating activities. Try not to use stove, oven or LED’s. If you must, do so during off-peak and cooler hours. Turn off lamps, computers, TV’s when not in use. (See energy vampire post.)
6. Avoid steam. Take hot showers, do laundry or dishes early or after dark.
7. Use light colored roofing. It reflects heat.
8. Use light colored fabrics inside your home.
9. Insulate your home. It keeps heat in during the winter AND out during the summer.
10. Consider renewable energy for your home and workplace in the near future. If you haven’t gone solar or wind, invest in a green architect to modify your home. Depending on where you live and your energy needs, many government grants, utility and regionable rebates are available.
The HOW for a cooler body:
1. Try citrus fruits. Our grandma’s organic fresh squeezed lemonade worked for a reason. (Did you know drinking lemonade also repels mosquitoes?)
2. Avoid chilled and sugary liquids (they actually make you hotter). Stay hydrated.
3. Take a cool bath or cold shower.
4. Damp, cool cloth around your neck. This works well when doing garden or yard work. There are commercial packs available that you refreeze; with covers.
5. Peppermint oil. Put 2 drops in a cool bath or a few drops into a carrier oil (almond) and rub over your body (avoid face).
6. Eating smaller meals more often produces less body heat.
7. Go swimming, tubing, rafting, visit waterparks, go skating or turn on the sprinkler in the back yard for the kids.
8. Install a DIY Misting Kit for the porch. When I lived in Arizona, almost all the outside restaurants and bars have misting systems. The air is cooled as the water evaporates.
9. Allow yourself to sweat, wear airy, looser clothing; avoid socks and hats.
10. Updated, modified “Egyptian Method” of sleep (without AC). Sleep in a hammock with a “blue ice” cube inside a towel under your neck; place wrung out wet towel over trunk. This way air has access to your entire body while major heat and pulse areas benefit from water evaporation.
The HOW for a keeping your pets cooler:
1. Leave enough food and cool water for your pets. Leave ice cubes in the water until you get back home.
2. Do not leave pets in the car. Car temperatures can reach critical temperatures within minutes.
3. Plan for a “what if” scenario if your power goes out or an emergency happens while you are away during the day. Leave keys with a friend or neighbor.
4. Provide plenty of shade for your pet indoors and outdoors.
5. Cool them down with wet towels when they show signs of dehydration or heatstroke.
The Deep Dive:
Cool compress masks for all parts of the body here.
The Humane Society’s tips for keeping pets cool.
Ten great tips on how to keep your cat cool!
Swamp Cooler Vest for Canines here.
NOAA Temperature Records Summary (Updated daily, for this blog, numbers were taken as of 7/8/2015)