I don’t know if you’ve seen those ads online for one WEIRD trick to lose weight or treat your diabetes or save for retirement?
Sometimes the ads look so amateurish that they’re only good for their comedy value. And if you give into the temptation to click on one of them, usually it’s just a come-on for some new diet or nutritional supplement that may or may not perform as promised.
But the idea is that there are new ideas out there that will surprise you. And that’s what I want to offer in this blog post, based on a little Google searching: surprising low-tech ideas to keep yourself and your home cool as the summer heat starts to hit your part of Virginia that are cheap and easy.
1. Chill Your Mattress
This is a variation on the “Egyptian technique” of wetting down your sheets. That works well in dry climates where the water will quickly evaporate, taking heat along with it. But in Virginia, the summer may be too humid for much evaporation. You can get a similar cooling effect using ice packs. Just put them on top of the mattress but underneath the sheets. For comfort, you can position the ice packs under your legs, neck or lower back.
2. Chill Your Sheets
You can also put your bed sheets in a plastic bag and freeze them too. Then, make your bed right before you go to sleep.
3. Optimize Your Fans
You can get cool without AC by making your fans work smarter, not harder. First, at night, point your window fan facing outside rather than inside. With lower nighttime temperatures, chances are it’s cooler outside than in, so you’ll want to blow out the hot air, which will create space for the cool air to come in. Second, if you have a ceiling fan, flip the switch to the summer setting to run it counter-clockwise. This will pull cool air up from the floor, where you can really feel it.
4. Fan Freezing Air
Definitely a weird trick: fill a couple plastic bottles with water, freeze them, and then place the frozen bottles in front of a fan. Point the fan directly at you, especially just before you go to sleep.
5. Eat Spicy Food
Summer may be the best time to break out the Sriracha Sauce. You already know that spicy food makes you sweat. And in summer, sweating more could be just what you need, at least if you’re at home where you don’t need to impress anybody. Eating spicy food increases blood circulation and makes you sweat, so you’ll feel cooler as the sweat dries, according to food scientist Luke LaBorde.
6. Drink More Water
This one may sound less like a weird trick and more like obvious advice from the “No DUH!” handbook. But like many simple things that we already know are good for us, most people don’t remember to do it. Remind yourself to drink more water on hot days than usual by always having a full water glass on your desk or setting phone alerts to drink up every hour.
7. Treat Your Body’s Cooling Points
Ice cubes wrapped in a towel or a frozen water bottle can help you feel cooler fast. And they’ll work better if you apply them directly to the places where your body will feel them most — your wrists and your neck.
8. Escape from Heat Islands
It’s called the “heat island effect” when pavement, roofs and other manmade surfaces outdoors can get 50 to 90 degrees higher than the air temperature. As rooftop solar installers, we know as well as anyone that, if you have to be on a roof, you need to protect yourself from the sun and drink lots of water. If you don’t have to be on a roof but you’re still outside, seek out an area with grass and vegetation — preferably trees that also provide shade — to find a mini-oasis of cool.
Check my sources for these ideas to get even more tips, some weird and some not-so-weird, for getting cooler this summer: Reader’s Digest, Lifehacker and LiveScience.
Of course, you can stay cool the old fashioned, non-weird but extremely comfortable way by running the air conditioner.
And if you have solar installed at home, you can enjoy your AC much more guilt free since you know you won’t be racking up a huge electric bill or using lots of dirty energy that pollutes the environment. To see if your place qualifies for solar, contact us for a free solar home assessment and price quote.
— Andrew Brenner, Main Street Solar