11 Tips: How to Survive the Summer Heat
We're obviously into the hottest part of summer, and some of us with wimpy or non-existent cooling systems, or a limited electric budget, need to start getting creative. As you know, there are people who die every year from heat stroke, so let's not be a part of those statistics.
Here are some ideas you may or may not have heard of to beat the heat:
- Stay hydrated and maintain electrolytes.*
- Embrace the summer look (give up the make-up, but not the deodorant, please)
- Get wet (especially head and hair)
- Aim a fan directly at yourself (may be be combined with #3)
- Get out of town (to higher altitudes)
- Try a basement apartment
- Adjust your cooling system practices (especially in 2-story homes)
- Maintain consistent temps throughout the day
- Quit using heat-producing appliances indoors
- Open windows at night and close in the morning.
- Invest in insulating curtains.
Hydration and Electrolytes
Everyone knows to increase their water intake during the summer, but also be aware that if you're doing any kind of sport (even swimming) or exercise, you need to focus on electrolytes* to avoid dehydration or water intoxication. In addition to traditional water drinking, try these:
- Suck on ice cubes
- Buy or make natural fruit/juice popsicles
- Eat more high water content fruit and vegetables.
*Electrolytes are basically minerals (sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) that are vital to proper body function. They are often found in sport drinks, fruit juices, and several fruits and vegetables. An electrolyte drink can also be made at home: 1L water, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 2 Tbsp sugar or honey.
Embrace the Summer Look
Usually, our skin has a bit to a lot more color in the summer. Take advantage of that:
- Skip the make-up (if you're not outside much, you could try one of those tanning lotions). The make-up usually sweats off and runs pretty quickly anyway, looking worse than no make-up.
- Try a new hairstyle - the kind where you wash, fluff, and go. Not only will this reduce the heat in your house and head by passing up the blow dryer, but a wet head keeps you cooler. Or, try a new up-do: hair off your neck is surprisingly helpful.
Whatever it takes:
- A quick rinse under a tepid shower
- A dip in a pool
- A race through the sprinkler,
- A water hose duel
- A head dunk in the sink
Aim a Fan Directly at Yourself
Especially when wet, you could end up actually shivering! I even had a friend in college who,at night, used to wet down her top sheet and aim a fan at it - sounds icky to me, but she said she was desperate.
Get out of Town
The higher the better, preferably within cooling trees. In general, the rule is that for every 1000 ft you rise in altitude, the temperature drops 3.57 degrees (F); however, other factors such as getting away from concrete into the forest also contribute to a further lowering of temperature. (Plus, there's that fresh air factor.)
Try Out a Basement Apartment
See my article: The Cool Basement Apartment
Or, consider remodeling your basement into a family living space. Due to the earth's insulating properties, you may need no heating or cooling in that area.
2-story Home Cooling Practices
If you are not fortunate enough to have a separate zone cooling system for each level of your house and cannot afford to install one, consider the following options:
- Stay as low as possible during the day. Often, homes have living spaces downstairs and bedrooms upstairs.
- At night, close all of the downstairs vents to push the cold air upstairs. It will slowly filter down (law of physics).
- Consider turning off the cooling system at night and using Energy Star in-window air conditioners for only the rooms you sleep in.
Maintain Consistent Temperatures Throughout the Day
A lot of us are unable to acclimate to the summer heat due to drastic temperatures changes we encounter during the day. We may work in an office that maintains a 70-72 degree average during the work day, then when we head outside, the 90-100 degree heat feels like an oven. After that, we get in the car and crank up the air conditioning to experience yet another major temperature change.
Instead of the temperature yo-yo practice, try your best to maintain an even temperature range so that your body can acclimate. Here are some ideas:
- Ask office management to turn down the AC - this will save on company finances and reduce downtime by employees who catch and transmit colds to other employees. If the answer is no, ask if you can use a personal, portable heater under your desk. If the answer is still no, bundle up. Pile on the sweaters, winter clothes, and even gloves. This will help you maintain a more even body temperature, and may embarrass management enough to where they raise the indoor temperature. Drink hot liquids.
- Try turning down or eliminating the AC in your car on the commute home.
- When home, maintain reasonable temperatures.
Quit Using Heat Producing Appliances Indoors
In the summer, I do the following as often as possible:
- Keep all unnecessary lights off
- Hang the clothes outside to dry
- Cook outside on the grill
- Let my hair dry naturally
Open Windows at Night and Close in the Morning
Use nature to cool your house. Open the windows after dark, and close them as early as possible. Try your best to keep the doors and windows closed during the day - this may mean a bit of child training.
Invest in Insulating Curtains
It's not a big investment. I paid $9.99 per panel at Walmart. Not only do they keep your room darker, but they prevent some heat from entering the home (and in winter, heat from escaping).
If you can hang some kind of outdoor blinds outside the window, even better.
Summer Should Be Enjoyable
It's a time of increased energy and more positive attitudes. Hopefully, the above ideas will help you enjoy your summer even more.