Those of us in Southern Ontario truly understand the drastic humidity levels that [not-so-graciously] accompany the hot, hot summer temperatures. We also understand that we shouldn’t complain about the warm weather due to our tremendously cold, damp winters but all we’re simply looking for is a happy medium – is that too much to ask? As always, we make the best of what we have, but what if you don’t have AC in your home? There are few things worse than trying to sleep, or even relax in an extremely hot, sticky room. These brutal summer temperatures are unavoidable for most of us at some point in the year, but how do you cool down a room without AC? It’s definitely possible! Here are a few DIY strategies to keep your home cool in summer, while being environmentally friendly and on a budget.
CLOSE YOUR BLINDS
This may seem like “common sense” to some but believe it or not, about 25-30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows. Even if you enjoy having the blinds open for the natural light, saving you from having to turn the lights on, it will be a good idea to remember to close the blinds while you’re at work or away from the house. Utilizing window shades and curtains can save you up to about 5-7 percent on your bills and lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees.
CHANGE YOUR SHEETS
Switching up your bedding seasonally definitely freshens up a room but it’s also a great way to keep cool. While certain fabrics like flannel sheets and fleece blankets are fantastic for insulation during the winter months, cotton is a smarter move in the summer time as it breathes easier and stays cooler. While shopping for cotton sheets, keep an eye out for buckwheat pillows. Buckwheat hulls have a naturally occurring air space between them, meaning that they won’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows, even when packed together inside a pillow case.
Whether you know it or not, your ceiling fan needs to be adjusted seasonally as well. Most fans have a “clockwise” and a “counter-clockwise” setting, each appropriate for a different season. To test it out, stand beneath the fan and turn it on. If you immediately feel a breeze from the fan, then it’s probably set on the “summer” setting, which is usually a counter-clockwise rotation. If you don’t “feel the breeze” turn off the fan, climb up near the base of the fan, and look around for a little button or switch that sets the fan to run in the opposite direction.
CHECK YOUR TEMPERATURE
You’ve probably developed a habit of checking the thermostat over and over again in the hopes of a degree drop, but you should also remember to check your body temperature when you feel like you can’t catch a break. It is a great idea to learn how to cool yourself from the inside out. For starters, try sipping tasty iced drinks or apply a cold cloth to strong-pulsed areas such as your neck and wrists elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knees. If you find that your core temperature is burning up to an unhealthy rate, take a cold shower to quickly bring down your body temperature while rinsing off sweat!
This tip is bound to keep you comfortable all year round, while keeping your utility charges down. If you don’t already have one, think about buying a hot water bottle. During the summer months, fill it with cold water and stick it in the freezer to create a bed-friendly ice pack. If you place this near your feet, you’re sure to cool from your head to your toes! During the winter months, fill it with boiling water and also place near your feet, instead of cranking the thermostat.
LET THE OUTSIDE IN
During the summer months, temperatures may drop during the night from time to time. If this is the case where you live, make the most of these refreshing hours by cracking the windows before you go to bed. You might even think about creating a wind tunnel by strategically setting up your fans to force the perfect cross breeze. Pay attention to the temperatures and adjust accordingly!
GETTING THE LOW-DOWN
If you weren’t already aware – hot air rises! Time to start thinking about re-locating your bed as close to the ground as possible to beat the heat. In a one-story home, this could mean you hauling the mattress down from your highly pedestaled bed frame and putting it on the floor. On the contrary, if you live in a multi-floor house, perhaps think about setting up camp in the cold and dark basement instead of an upper story.
Most of these tips are helpful for the short-term but you know that this discomfort will come around again next year and the cycle will just continue. If you don’t see yourself investing in an AC unit in the near future, you can definitely make a few changes to your home that will have long-term benefits. Insulated window films, for example, are a smart purchase as they work similarly to blinds. As well, investing in certain other additions like awnings and planting trees or vines on or in front of light-facing windows will shield your home from the sun’s rays, reducing the amount of heat your home absorbs and make your investment nothing but worthwhile!