As the mercury continues to rise and the beads of sweat continue to dribble down your chin, you look enviously at your next door neighbors and their central air conditioning system. Look at their comfortably cool, climate-controlled, smug selves.
That's okay. You can make the scorchingly hot summer a little more bearable without air conditioning in the house. And you can spend the thousands of dollars you'll save on something more practical... like a booming new home theater.
1. If You Can't Stand the Heat...
This might sound like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by how many people continue to get it wrong. Don't bake bread in the oven or stir-fry your veggies on the stove top when you're sweating hard like a rump roast yourself. If you can't stand the heat, literally get out of the kitchen and go outside, preferably somewhere in the shade.
The oven and the stove are significant sources of unnecessary heat. Head to the backyard and host a BBQ party. Pick up a cheap hot plate and use one of the power outlets on the outside of your house. Stick a mini fridge in the garage and hang out in there. Better yet, stick to cool foods like salads and gazpacho. You'd be amazed how much food you can make outside of your kitchen.
Along the same line of thought, avoid running the dryer or ironing your clothes. Wrinkly wet clothes are the new summer look!
2. The Dark Side and the Light
Most people understand that despite the temptation of enjoying the natural light of summer sunshine, that enjoyment will come at the price of a bubbling hot homestead. Heat, for the most part, gets into your house through the windows. So what if you want some of that light but far less of the heat?
Did you know you can get solar window film that you can apply yourself to the windows in your home? It's similar to window tint for cars, except the main objective is heat rejection. It'll also protect your home against harmful UV rays that would otherwise cause fading on your flooring and furniture. You don't need to fully embrace the darkness like Gollum and Darth Vader. Just a tint.
3. A Real Ice Bucket Challenge
What is the actual goal or purpose of air conditioning, anyway? All it does is blow cold air around the room, right? You can achieve the same fundamental result at a fraction of the price by placing a bucket or shallow dish of ice in front of a fan.
The fan will pick up the cool breeze from the melting ice and blow that around the room. It's like a cool mist humidifier. You'll probably want to keep that dish of ice beyond the reach of pets and small children, unless you feel like mopping up the inevitable pool. Then again, rolling around on a cold wet floor doesn't sound half bad...
4. Bamboo: It's Not Just Panda Food
Beyond being used to make dim sum steamers and wind instruments, bamboo is actually used for a variety of other purposes. Did you know that you can get bedsheets and pillowcases made of a bamboo-based rayon? This material is better at keeping cool to the touch and its silky smooth surface is hypoallergenic to boot.
If you're the type to break out in night sweats, you'll also be relieved to hear that bamboo sheets are especially absorbent, though maybe not enough to soak up little Jimmy's "accidents." That's truly a panda-sized mess that no amount of bamboo can fix.
5. A Wet Blanket Is a Good Thing
Nobody wants a wet blanket to put a damper on their spirits, unless you're already drenched in your own sweat and you're practically melting down, like the Wicked Witch of the West, into a puddle of evil goop. Well, not a wet blanket, per se, as much as a wet towel.
Place a hand towel that has been thoroughly dampened in cold water next to an open window. As the outside breeze flows into the home, it'll be cooled by the cold, wet towel. And if you're sitting next to the window, you have convenient access to a cold wet towel to drape across your shoulders. Just remember to clean your window sill first. Perhaps with a wet towel.
6. Welcome the Dark Knight Rising
Alfred once told Bruce Wayne, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." He probably wasn't referring to your house going up in flames as a result of a lack of air conditioning, but the sentiment still holds.
It's time to go back to your high school science class again. The goal is to encourage cool air to enter your home and warm air to exit by creating a cross breeze. Ideally, this flow is as straight and unencumbered as possible, since air doesn't like making hard turns. The "entry" point should be on the cooler side of your house with more shade and natural vegetation. The "entry" window should also be lower, if possible.
The "exit" window should be on the warmer side of your house, likely with more sun and more pavement. That window should be higher, if possible. That's because hot air rises and you want to facilitate the creation of a natural vacuum in your home. Installing windows or air louvers above doors is one way to accomplish this. Attic vents are another option.
By directing air flow this way, you're pushing out warm air and preventing it from coming in, while simultaneously encouraging cooler air to come inside.
Keeping a Cool Head
You'd take a page out of rapper Nelly's playbook when it gets "hot in herre," but public decency laws are in place for a reason. If all else fails, you can always drive your air-conditioned car over to the air-conditioned mall for some frozen yogurt. Sweat on someone else's property and be merry, preferably with some clothes on.