20 Nov 2015

While air conditioners are great at keeping us cool in the summer months, they do carry negative impacts on our health, environment, and wallets. Air conditioning systems consume a great deal of energy and put a constant strain on the electricity generation industry, as well as your finances come bill time. So how can you cut down on bills and use your air conditioner a little less this summer, without dying from the sweltering heat?

Keeping cool without air conditioning requires a combination of quick fixes and long term solutions.

While air conditioners are great at keeping us cool in the summer months, they do carry negative impacts on our health, environment, and wallets. Air conditioning systems consume a great deal of energy and put a constant strain on the electricity generation industry, as well as your finances come bill time. So how can you cut down on bills and use your air conditioner a little less this summer, without dying from the sweltering heat?

Keeping cool without air conditioning requires a combination of quick fixes and long term solutions. Let’s first look at the quick fixes.

CHILLING YOUR PULSES

To cool down super fast, apply an ice pack or cold compress to pulse points at the neck, wrists, elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knees. Now feel your temperature drop a little.

TAKING A COOL SHOWER

A cool shower will take the heat off instantly and should keep you feeling cool for some time after. If you’re happy to, wet your hair which will help to keep you cooler for longer. If you’re brave, blast yourself with cold water before leaving the shower for one final moment of cooling down.

STRIPPING OFF

While wandering around the house in the nude isn’t something we’re going to suggest, removing a layer will help to cool you down. When at home, stick to cotton singlets and shorts, or light and summery, loose clothing.

LETTING GO OF YOUR PARTNER

You may enjoy a cuddle in bed, but snuggling up with your partner increases body heat, making the bed a sticky and sweaty mess instead of a cool and calm oasis. For a more restful sleep, try maintaining a bit of distance.

DRINKING COLD WATER

Drinking water throughout the day will help keep you cool, and drinking a large glass before bed will reduce your chance of tossing and turning. A large glass should be enough to do the trick.

DUNKING YOUR FEET

Your little tootsies are pretty sensitive to temperature because there are lots of pulse points in the feet and ankles. By plunging them in cold water, you should feel an instant cool throughout your body. So why not consider keeping a bucket of cold water beside the bed for really hot nights?

DIY AIR CONDITIONING

Position a shallow bowl full of ice in front of a fan and let the breeze pick up cold water from the ice’s surface. Alternatively, place ice cold water in a spray bottle and create a cooling mist similar to that of an air conditioner.

Long term solutions include:

LETTING IN THE NIGHT AIR

During the summer months, temperatures can drop significantly overnight in some areas. Make the most of these refreshing hours by opening up the windows, or better yet, draw the cool air in by strategically creating a wind tunnel with fans. Just be sure to close the windows before it starts warming up.

DRAWING THE BLINDS

Up to 40% of unwanted heat comes from your windows, and by keeping blinds or curtains closed, you could lower temperatures by as much as 20 degrees. By blocking out the light, you’re essentially stopping your home from becoming one large greenhouse.

CLOSING OFF ROOMS

Closing off rooms will prevent the cool air from permeating the hottest rooms in the house, so choose the coolest place to relax and close the door behind you.

SWITCHING YOUR SHEETS

If you’ve still got the flannelette sheets on from winter, you’re asking for trouble. Make sure to switch the sheets to light-coloured cotton, and if you really want a cool night’s sleep, buy yourself a buckwheat pillow or two. Because buckwheat hulls have a naturally occurring air space between them, they won’t hold onto your body heat like conventional pillows, even when packed tightly inside a pillow case.

LEAVING OFF THE OVEN

You’d be surprised at how quickly an oven can heat up the home, so leave it off as much as possible in summer and instead get stuck into some cold meats and salads. Try a simple watermelon and feta salad or a cooling cucumber soup.

SETTING YOUR CEILING FANS TO ROTATE COUNTER-CLOCKWISE

It’s important to set your ceiling fans seasonally, yet surprisingly, most households forget to do this. Fans should be set to counter-clockwise in summer, as the fan’s airflow will create a wind-chill breeze effect that will make you feel cooler. Just remember though that fans are keeping you cool and not the room. Remember to turn fans off when you leave.

CHANGING YOUR LIGHT BULBS

Incandescent bulbs waste about 90 percent of their energy in the heat they emit, and switching them for CFLs or LEDs can make a small difference in keeping your home cooler. Plus, you’ll lower your electricity bill and your impact on the environment.

SHIELDING YOUR WINDOWS

On windows that receive direct sunlight, consider planting some trees or vines or installing an awning to shield your home from the sun’s strong rays. While the initial cost of planting or an awning could be high, the savings you make on cooling your home could be more in the long run.

KEEPING PLUGS OUT OF SOCKETS

Instead of just turning switches off when not in use, try taking the plug out of the socket. Gadgets and other small appliances give off heat even when turned off, so reduce heat by unplugging.

HANGING CLOTHES OUTSIDE

Wash dirty clothes in the cooler parts of the day and hang clothes outside to dry instead of using the dryer.

BEEF UP THE INSULATION

Your home will become cooler in summer and warmer in winter with the addition of extra insulation in your attic. Increasing your insulation to R-30 or R-40 could make a big difference in comfort and cost.