When it comes to summer, being cool is about a lot more than your interior decorating style. Older homes and rentals are synonymous with no air conditioning, terrible ventilation, or windows that are painted shut. How do you deal? Here are some tips to keep you cool all summer long.
Be a Fan Favorite
These days fans can be pretty high tech. Replace that circular oscillating fans with tower fans that come with a remote control and Bluetooth technology. You’ll want plenty of these, of course, of all sizes and spaced at appropriate intervals to keep the air moving. Tower fans run about $30 each.
If you can open your windows, get a cross-breeze going and put fans at the crossroads. Try the double window fans (also $30 each) that bring new air in and cycle out warm air. Keep a misting spray bottle handy, and you can spray your skin before cooling off in front of the fan for an instant lift. If you have a ceiling fan, set the fan to turn counter-clockwise to push cooler air down, creating a wind-chill effect.
Find the Right Room
Stay in the lowest part of your house, since heat rises. If the evenings are cool, open windows to let out stale, warm air and take in cool air. Just be sure you check the weather report and close them in the morning before the sun and temperature rise. Another tip? Avoid using your kitchen. Stoves, ovens, and microwaves add unnecessary heat to an already sweltering space. Pull out your grill and your outdoor kitchen to keep the heat outside. Too hot even for that? You can always make a salad, or even better – order a pizza.
Focus on Fabric
While you might not want to spend big bucks on expensive Egyptian cotton sheets, just switching out your polyester or flannel sheets with a light colored summer cotton set will help keep you cool at night. For a few extra dollars you can try a buckwheat pillow – a treasure from Japanese culture – that is rumored to keep you cool by allowing plenty of airflow. You’ll be as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Staying hydrated is one of the biggest battles when it comes to staying cool. Your body needs to sweat in order to cool itself down, but it can’t when you are dehydrated. Drink plenty of cold beverages or suck on ice cubes to keep yourself cool and well hydrated.
You can also use these techniques externally for extra cooling effect. Place ice cubes on pressure points at your wrists or neck to cool down instantly. A cold or frozen washcloth brings icy relief when placed on the forehead, neck, abdomen, wrists, and/or feet. These may not be glamorous, but they sure are cool. If you don’t like the idea of a wet washcloth in bed, but you still need to cool down at night, fill a large tube sock with rice and freeze it. This will provide a nice flexible icepack without making a melty mess.
Beating the sun is your ultimate goal, and some low-tech solutions can drastically help, and they don’t require electricity. Keep all windows, blinds and curtains closed during the heat of the day, and stay away from the part of the house where the sun is directed. Insulated thermal curtains, usually used to keep cold air out, can also help keep heat out, and are a worthy investment (about $30 a panel). If possible find ones with white backings to reflect sunlight. Similarly, wear white and cover any dark furnishings with white sheets so they don’t absorb the heat from the sun.
Try Being Tropical
If the temperature in your house feels like the tropics, embrace the feeling and set up your very own hammock. While this is not practical for every house or apartment, setting up a hammock can be a simple alternative to a hot stuffy bed. So grab a cool drink, close your eyes, and pretend you’re on a tropical beach.
If Your Windows Open, You’ve Struck Gold
Window air conditioning units are highly sought-after during the hot summer months, so grab one (or more) now if your window can accommodate one. Most run about $150 for a unit that will cool 250 square feet.
Also pick up a support bracket to prevent the unit from accidentally falling out of your window. Look for brackets marked “no tools needed” that won’t damage your window or the outside of the structure, and expect to spend an extra $45. Energy Star-rated air conditioners and those with energy-saving modes will help keep your utility costs down.
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A contribution by Natalie Wise
Natalie Wise, M.A., covers real estate and celebrity real estate for Zillow. You can read more of her writing at www.nataliewisewords.com. Explore Zillow Digs to find millions of home design ideas and home improvement pictures. Browse interior design ideas, exterior design ideas & project estimates by room.