The summer of 2012 was the hottest on record in the United States. Whatever the long-range predictions, I’m getting ready for above-average temperatures. My son loves to be outdoors walking, running and riding his bike regardless of the mercury.
Though summer is still some weeks away, the weather here on the East Coast has definitely gotten warmer and the air heavy and humid. I’ve been motivated to think about ways to beat the heat and preferably without heating up the earth. Here are some AC-free suggestions for staying cool.
1. Reset Your Schedule
Keep in mind that the sun is at its peak from about 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and plan your activities accordingly. Try to stay inside in the middle of the day and exercise early or as the sun is going down.
2. Lighten Up
Wear white and other light colors which reflect heat rather than absorbing them. A white or light-colored spread on your bed or light-colored coverings on your furniture will not only give the impression of coolness, but also absorb less heat.
3. Unplug, Unplug
Even if you’re not using them, television sets, lamps, computers and electronic devices all generate some heat when plugged in, so turn these off when you’re not using them. If you haven’t already switched to LEDs, now is the time as fluorescent ones also give off heat.
4. It’s Not Just What You Wear, But What Your Clothes are Made of
Clothes made from natural fibers — linen, cotton and silk — can help to keep you cool. Also consider seersucker, a fabric once used to make suits and uniforms that’s been somewhat forgotten in the age of “moisture-wicking” hi-tech synthetics.
5. Hot Tea, Please
Years ago, I spent a summer in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. At first I sought out cool drinks but wondered why most people were drinking hot tea. I decided to invoke the “when in Rome (Taipei) do as the Romans (Taiwanese) do” and did the same and thereby learned that drinking something hot can be cooling. Drinking hot liquids sends a signal to your brain that it needs to turn on the body’s “systemic cooling mechanisms” — perspiration.
6. Don’t Hold the Chiles
Notably, some of the hottest places in the world — India, Latin America, Thailand — have some of the spiciest food, from curries to dishes made with plenty of chiles. Some scientists say that eating spicy foods makes you sweat, but without raising body temperature and therefore ends up cooling you down.
7. Add Some Mint
If you just can’t imagine drinking a steaming hot cup of tea or digging into a plate of curry on a hot day, try mint tea or adding mint to other foods. Other foods that hit the spot on a hot day are cucumbers, melons and watermelon.
8. Close and Open Windows
Keeping windows open on hot summer days can end up making your house warmer. Open them at night (if the air is cooler) and be sure to close them when the sun rises in the morning. Opening windows opposite from each other can also help to encourage cross-ventilation.
9. Prepare Your House
If you’re in a position to undertake some more extensive home renovations, consider lighter-colored roofing (the better to reflect sunlight), making sure your walls and attic are well-insulated, installing awnings and planting trees strategically around your house for their shade.
10. Water Is Best
The ancient Egyptians hung wet cloths over doorways to cool down rooms; putting a bandanna or cloth soaked in cool water or an ice cube or ice pack on your head or neck can also cool you down.
Of course, make sure to also drink plenty of water!
Photos from Thinkstock