The Best AC Alternatives
Summer is on its way! On most days this is a good thing. On others, it means sweltering heat, sunburn and cranking the air conditioning to the highest setting. This means that during long stretches of heatwaves, some people can see their utility bills spike. Worse still, many Canadians don’t have air conditioning in their homes, not making the large investment for something they can only really use for three weeks of the year. However, with the average summer temperature continuing to rise, many more Canadians are increasingly looking towards other methods of cooling down. But turning on the A/C during the summer can be just as burdensome on your wallet as turning on your heat during winter; you just might not notice it since the summers are so short compared to winter. If you don’t want to sink the funds to invest in an air conditioning unit, much less to keep one running through a Canadian heat-wave*, there are plenty of ways you can chill out without breaking the bank.
*Can we finally talk about how brutal our summers are too?
How to cool a house without AC
1. Stripping down
This one’s free. In fact, it can keep you from spending more money on clothes. Wearing light layers allows heat to easily escape from your body keeping you cool. Opting for smarter, airier clothing like cotton fabrics or spandex, open-toed shoes or even just allowing yourself to hang out in the buff is a great way to let your body wick away heat and bring down your internal temperature.
2. Drink water
Drinking a cool glass of water has immediate chilling effects on your body’s temperature. It also has long term benefits, allowing your body to continue producing sweat, which keeps you cool as it evaporates. It’s also essential during hot weather to remain healthy and hydrated, so feel free to drop a few ice cubes in your next glass and take some big swigs.
3. Grilling light meals
The radial heat from turning on the oven can cause your house to actually feel warmer, making a sweltering summer unbearable. Instead of the oven, light up the grill and opt for meals that are lighter and easier to digest. Heavy meals and proteins take more energy to break down, meaning that your body ends up generating more residual heat. So forego that pot roast for a bright summer salad with some grilled veggies.
4. Cool drinks & treats
While you’re ditching the heavy meals, why not treat yourself to a refreshing beverage or snack? Refreshing summer cocktails like lemonade and iced-tea is a good way to bring down the heat. You can also cool down snacking on frozen treats like popsicles, freezies, frozen grapes and chilled watermelon. These snacks are also high in their water content meaning that you can stay hydrated and cool for longer.
5. Cool bath or shower
You don’t have to settle for just drinking your water. If you find that you’re still clammy, drench yourself in it. Take a cool five-minute shower, or fill up the tub with cool to lukewarm water if you want to spend a longer time cooling down. On your way out, you can fill a mister bottle with cold water to spray yourself with throughout the day when you get too hot.
6. Use fans wisely
Before we had A/C, we had more mechanical ways of keeping ourselves cool. There are several different types of fans and different ways to use them to cool yourself down. If you have a ceiling fan, a well-known trick is to make sure your fan is spinning in a counter-clockwise direction*. This forces cold air down from the ceiling, making the room feel cooler. A thing to keep in mind, however, is that fans help people feel cool, but they don’t actually bring down the temperature of a room. So if you’re not there to bask in its breeze, you’re just wasting electricity keeping it running.
*In case you have trouble remembering which direction to spin the fan, just think: cold weather, outside? The fan spins clockwise.
If your fan is a standing fan, you can set a bowl of ice underneath it, so the moving air creates a current of cool breeze to wash over you, as the ice melts. For a boxed fan, you can set it on your windowsill, with the windown half-closed on top on it, and — get this — point the fan to blow outside. Ever wonder why some fans seem like they just blow around the hot air? Exactly. Use the fan’s tendency to push around hot air to have it force the hot air out of the room.
7. Cool your pulse points
If you can cool your blood, you can lower your body temperature. While it’s intutive, if it was that simple, you wouldn’t be reading this article. Instead, try to get — or make — an ice pack or cool, damp rag and place them on the parts of your body where your veins are most prominent. These points can be found on your forehead, neck, inner elbow, wrists, along the groin, behind the knee and around the ankles.
You might be hot, not because of your body’s condition, but because of your surroundings. If you want to cool your home down, you can block out the main source of heat penetrating your home. Invest in some blackout curtains, prioritizing rooms you occupy more frequently or receive the most glare during high noon. This is an eco-friendly way to cool down your home, in general.
9. Egyptian Method
This one is best reserved for a dramatic heatwave because it is a bit inconvenient to pull off. Before fans and A/C existed, our Egyptian ancestors would soak a blanket in water and wring it until it was just damp. As they slept, the water would evaporate throughout the night, leaving them sleeping cool. If you want to try this, soak your blanket in the bathtub, or skip the dryer cycle after giving your sheets a quick wash. Don’t forget to cover your mattress in a plastic protector to prevent the growth of mould.
So, before you pine over an air conditioning unit this summer, and sink the costs, consider doing any number of these tips to cool down. After all, summer doesn’t last too long anyway!