During the Dog Days of summer, many people’s first instinct is to crank up the air conditioning. While that may be necessary during extreme heat, try other alternatives first. Air conditioning can be a total energy hog. And, since the typical home gets its energy from coal burning power plants, feeding energy hogs means adding to greenhouse gas emissions and mercury pollution.
Here’s a whole alphabet of
easy ideas for keeping cool:
Apply a cold compress. Try wetting your wrists, neck, and other pulse points with a cold cloth or ice wrapped in a bandana. Cooling the wrists can reduce the body's core temperature by as much as 3ºF.
Bathe using cool water. To conserve water, keep your tub filled and you and your kids can randomly hop in during the day to cool off.
Call a contractor and have your home insulated. Good insulation keeps your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter – an investment that pays itself off quickly.
Drink lots of water. Hydration is extremely important when it’s very hot. Keep the whole family drinking by making sure ice cold water is always within reach.
Eat spicy foods. Spicy food helps cool the body by opening pores and promoting perspiration (the body's natural cooling system).
Frequent public buildings. Grocery stores and libraries can be cool destinations on hot summer days. Plan to run errands or visit these spaces during the peak heat of the day (mid-late afternoon).
Grow a garden (on your roof!). Okay, not so easy and not feasible for everyone, but consider this: According to Environment Canada, a typical one-story building with 4 inches of native grass growing on its roof reduces its own cooling needs by 25 per cent. Visit GreenRoofs.org to learn more.
Hang wet sheets over your open windows at night to create natural air-conditioning.
Install energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs around your home — they use less energy and give off less heat (keeping your home cooler).
Jump into bed without drying off. Hop in the aforementioned tub of cool water before bed, but don’t dry off. The moisture on you and your sheets will help keep you cooler into the evening.
Keep the oven, dryer and even lights turned off. Anything that produces heat should be kept off for the day.
Lay low. Heat rises, so stay in the lower levels of your home. Only have one level? Stay away from naturally warmer rooms like the kitchen or poorly ventilated areas.
Make frozen treats. Keep your freezer stocked with fruit popsicles, frozen yogurt, frozen watermelon and grapes and other healthy, icy treats.
Navigate to a shady spot outdoors. Sometimes you might find it’s cooler outside if you can find a shady, breezy spot to relax.
Open your windows during cool morning and evening hours to flush out warm air and welcome in cool. Then close them during peak heat hours to trap the cool air inside.
Plant trees around your house to shade it from the sun. This is clearly a long-term investment, but well worth it as it can reduce cooling costs up to 40 percent! Choose deciduous trees for maximum shade.
Question your scheduled activities. Missing one soccer practice or letting the grass grow a little bit longer is going to be safer in the long run than risking heat stroke.
Reduce solar gain by using sun reflective film on your windows.
Swim. Sure, it’s an obvious tip, but still a good one. Temperatures are often 2-3 degrees cooler by open water and the act of immersing yourself in water cools the whole body down significantly.
Try misting yourself with a spray bottle of water. Kids might get a little crazy with this one, but it’s a quick and easy way to cool off.
Use Energy Star approved fans to keep air circulating — they use 90 per cent less electricity than air conditioners.
Ventilate your attic. Install a roof vent and attic fan to release the hot air that gets trapped in this tightly enclosed space (which then gets backed up and leaks into your home).
Wear the right clothes. Opt for white or pastel colors and lightweight fabrics.
relaX. Today is not the day for extreme exercising or powerhouse cleaning. Keep cool by moving slow.
Yank the curtains. Keep your window coverings pulled shut during the hottest part of the day so the sun’s rays can’t get in and heat up your home.
Zero in on the eco-friendliest air conditioner if you must use one. Find an energy-efficient Energy Star model, and clean the filter often to improve air flow.
Thanks Healthy Baby, Healthy Child!