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11 Ways to Stay Cool Without an Air Conditioner
The gorgeous days of summer in Hingham cannot be beat with our ocean air and all of the water-centered activities available to us. Even so, there are days when it gets pretty hot and humid, and now that we are in the midst of a heat wave, “real feel” temperatures are up to 110 degrees. While air conditioning is a staple in most South Shore homes, your preference might be to not have air conditioning.
Then there is the matter of air conditioning systems breaking down at times when you most need to cool down the most. Like right now. Finding an air conditioning repair person during a blast of hot weather is almost impossible, unless you have an established relationship already.
There are many ways to cool down, if only by a few degrees, without running your air conditioning system and raising your utility bills. For that matter, you can keep your air conditioning on, but set to a higher temperature while utilizing some of these ways to cool down.
11 Ways to Cool Down During a Heat Wave
1) Time the Windows
When you get up in the morning, close your windows. It seems odd, but the hot air will pour into your house with open windows. Once the air cools down in the evening, open those that face the breeze, and the windows facing the direction of the breeze. This will drive the hot air out. Before you turn in for the night, you can open more windows to take advantage of the lower temperatures. For extra benefit, create your own wind tunnel by setting one fan facing inwards from the window receiving the breeze, and another facing outwards opposite the first window.
2) Bring Your Kitchen Outside
That’s right, close up the indoor kitchen and cook everything outside on your grill. Some grills come with side burners, but if yours doesn’t, you can still boil water on top of the grill. Just make sure the handle isn’t plastic because it will melt. A good metal pot will do just fine and make sure you let the handle cool before touching it with oven mitts. If you don’t want to boil water on your grill, items that are normally boiled, like fresh corn, can be cooked in a modified way. For instance, try wrapping your corn in foil and adding a little beer and butter to it first. Then cool cook it while you are grilling other things. Use some paper plates to avoid the heat of a running dishwasher too. An added bonus to this is no clean up!
3) Shade is Always Available
If you are not too hot to accomplish a task, or if you would like to prepare for the next heat wave, there are some things to consider. Think about getting some some insulated window films for those south facing windows. Awnings are great too for both indoor and outdoor relief. If you have some large potted plants or trees outside that are easy to move, place them in front of your hottest windows. This will protect from the sun’s rays and reduces the heat absorbed by the materials in your house. You might also put some potted plants in front of the hottest windows indoors where they can absorb some of the sun’s heat.
4) Shutters and Blinds
Although this won’t help you today, another longer term solution is to install shade to each individual window. The sale of shutters, blinds, shades and curtains increases during the hot weather and this is because an effectively covered window can decrease the heat inside your home by up to 20%.
Shutters for window openings actually date back to ancient Greece when they were made of marble and installed on the inside of homes. Initially the function of these mammoth stone shutters was to protect ones home from strong winds and coastal storms. Their louvers were fixed, obviously, and the sheer weight of the materials was prohibitive.
The idea behind the original shutter was so compelling that wood workers started crafting them out of wood and improved their design and functional options. The wood shutters had moveable louvers and allowed for more ventilation and increased air flow. They were also easy to resize, and to move from window to window, or home to home.
Soon Victorian woodworking mills installed machinery for manufacturing and this brought engineering to the customization of shutters. More than blocking the light or allowing air to circulate, once could now adjust louvered shutter blades at a precise enough angle to deflect raindrops
Here in America, shutters started appearing as the South was colonized by Spain. Large and elegant plantation manors used them as part of every design, hence the term, “Plantation Shutters.” Cross ventilation and protection from the sweltering southern sun made these tall frames with deep horizontal slats a necessary item for those who could afford them.
Plantation shutters function to allow light in when you so desire, and provide privacy at the same time. Their look is clean and spacious, and a natural continuation of the window design. While there are multiple types of shutters and shades, the Plantation Shutter is considered the most elegant and valuable.
5) Hack Your Fan with Ice
Fans spin the air around and it is hard to know if they actually make things cooler. One facing out, the other facing in, create a cross breeze and replace the air, but what if the air doesn’t cool down enough? Here is a way to use all natural air conditioning. Fill up a shallow, but large bowl with ice, or ice packs and place it in front of a large sized fan. The air will hit the ice and blow extra-chilly air your way.
6) Ceiling Fans
As for those ceiling fans, remembering the correct direction for cooling is a challenge for most of us. Make sure the fans rotate in a counter-clockwise direction and at a faster speed in the summer. The airflow makes it seem cooler, even if it’s not. Bathroom exhaust fans, stove fans and old-fashioned attic fans will pull the hot air out as well and let newer air circulate.
7) Sleeping Textiles
This sounds insultingly obvious, but if you are still putting those flannel sheets on, they will not help your cause to keep cool. Cotton is a much better option since it tends to stay cooler. As for your pillows, buckwheat is the only material that will not hold onto the heat from your head while you slumber. There is actually something called the Chillow https://www.chillow.com that you can put under your head when you you sleep. And if you have a spray bottle, fill it with water and mist your sheets before you get in. Only do this on cotton sheets!
8) Prepare Cold Food
Try to plan cold meals that do not have to be served hot. It is similar to drinking cool water in that the temperature of your food will decrease your core body temperature. Before the heat of the day sets in, preparer food ahead of time for the next couple of days.
9) Lighting & Electronics
You have, no doubt, experienced the heat from the bottom of your laptop. Light bulbs, audio equipment, cable boxes, televisions etc all throw off heat. When taken individually, the hot air is negligible, but when added together you might be surprised how it adds up. Keep things powered down, and the lighting low to ease the amount of heat running inside your home. Remember too that standby power still emits heat.
10) Water Power
Taking a lukewarm to cool shower or bath, swimming, or spraying yourself with the hose cools your core body temperature. Not only that, but as the water evaporates form your skin, there is another cooling benefit. The cooling towels work amazingly well too. Get them wet, wring them out and then give the towel a fling or two in the air before putting it around your neck or head. And if you are out golfing, playing tennis or biking in the heat, a small ice bag prepared ahead of time does wonders. You can fill it partially with water and then put it in the freezer. Place it on your sternum, pulse points or the top of your head and your body will cool down quickly.
11) Insulate Your Attic, but not Today
For longer term cooling, consider insulating your attic more thoroughly, especially if you have an attic fan. The fan draws hot air out of course, and the insulation can keep the cooled air in longer.
The heat we are experiencing is something to treat with respect. Drink more water than you usually do, and be very careful exerting yourself. Also, be aware that hot weather drains car batteries as much as the cold weather, so make sure your car battery voltage is at an appropriate level. If it is time for a replacement, do it sooner rather then later. Getting stranded in high heat can be a challenge and even dangerous.
Summer in Hingham MA is an ideal time to start looking for homes and learning about all of Hingham’s neighborhoods, all with distinctive characteristics. One of the best Realtors in Hingham, Alice Pierce, is the ideal person to show you around Hingham and all of the South Shore towns. Not only is she a Hingham resident, but she has lived here all of her life and raised her family here, so give her a call at 781-724-7622, anytime. Alice Pierce can also be reach by emailing her, or through her Coldwell Banker real estate website.