1. Create a breeze. Fans are an inexpensive way to cool yourself down, both indoors and out. Inside, a single window fan pointed out can create cross-ventilation from open windows on the opposite side of the house. Propping open interior doors will prevent them from slamming shut when the breeze blows through. Ceiling fans keep hot air from building up at the top of the room, sending it down to be pulled out the windows. On a porch, a ceiling fan provides air circulation. Sitting in a porch rocking chair is a heavenly experience when thereís a cool breeze being generated overhead.
2. Cook outdoors. If you canít stand the heat, you might consider moving your kitchen outdoors Ė or at least oven and stovetop cooking. An outdoor grill will allow you to enjoy all the traditional foods of summer, and you wonít spend money needlessly offsetting the heat from the kitchen with your air conditioner.
3. Plant trees. Placing trees on your houseís sunny side can substantially lower your cooling bills. If your yard already has mature shade trees, find ways to take advantage of that asset. Create an outdoor seating area, or suspend a hammock. If not, consider planting fast growing trees. Even if they take years to make shade, they remove carbon dioxide from the air and transpire water, which helps to cool things down.
4. Use color. Light colors deflect heat, whereas dark colors absorb it. So if you live in a warm climate, you might consider painting your roof.
5. Make rain. A light summer rain can lower temperatures dramatically. Create an artificial rainstorm by aiming a sprinkler at your roof. Only a few moments each hour will help evaporate the heat. Placing a water barrel beneath your roofís gutters will allow you to capture the runoff for use on your lawn or garden.
6. Create Cool Zones. It may not be necessary to cool the entire house. Certain areas may be designated as cool zones. You may wish to air-condition your bedroom, so that you get a good nightís sleep, whereas other rooms in the house may be usable with cross-ventilation and fans.
7. Create Outdoor Rooms. With no walls to retain heat, nature provides the ultimate cross-ventilation. A canopy can be installed in the backyard for relaxing in the shade. A gazebo provides shelter from the sunís rays, while the sides are open to cool breezes. Vines can be trained to cover a pergola, a destination made enchanting by the dappled light that plays through the leaves. A covered porch provides a transition from the house to the yard, and has the advantage of convenience. Even damp cotton sheets suspended from a nearby clothesline can create a cool area where you can find relief from the heat. Outfit your outdoors room with appropriate furniture designed for lounging, relaxing and daydreaming.
8. Create a mist. Whether from a splashing fountain, a misting fan or an elaborate water misting system, tiny airborne water droplets are refreshing in the summer heat. If you already have a fountain, consider placing a portable fan behind it for a quick and easy misting solution. There are also misting fans available that come with their own water supply.
9. Pick Cotton. Polyester, acrylic and other synthetic fabrics donít breathe, so they retain heat. Choose light-colored, natural fabric, and be sure itís loose fitting Ė because itís not just your house that needs cross-ventilation.
10. Eat light. The cooler your body, the fewer demands youíll make on your cooling system. Save heavy meals for the dark days of winter. When summer arrives, focus on salads, fresh fruit and cold soups, like gazpacho. Not only will your body generate less heat digesting meals, but the natural water content of raw foods will hydrate your body.
Deploy these techniques to stay cool, calm and collected, even during the hot days of summer. As you wean yourself from your air-conditioner, you may find that an appliance you thought was critical for modern existence really wasnít so necessary after all.
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