1. Use The A.C. Less
Seems like common sense, right? But we get hot and uncomfortable and we drop the temp another couple degrees on the thermostat and the electric bill climbs. During the day, to regulate the temperature—making it more efficient to cool later—and to protect your pets, keep the AC on but turn the thermostat up. We usually keep our daytime temp around 80ºF and close vents in rooms, we aren’t using, like guest rooms. During night and evening hours most power companies charge a significantly lower rate for electricity because the demand is lower. So go ahead and cool your house at night when the rates are cheap.
2. Dress The Part
If you are at home during the day, wear fewer clothes. Get your hair up off your neck and wear lightweight, comfortable things and as little as possible. Take off the T-shirt and get into a sports bra, ladies. Guys, we don’t mind at all if you parade around in your boxers. Who knows, it might even lead to a little hanky panky!
3. Let Mother Nature Do The Work
When you do the laundry, wash on cold water whenever possible, then skip the dryer. Instead, install a clothes line. Here in the desert in August its regularly over 100ºF. I’ve put up two clotheslines in the garage (because it’s too hot outside!) Yes, it does take a little more effort to hang and then pull down each individual article of clothing, but its worth it because you’re not heating your house unnecessarily.
4. Eat Smart
There are two ways to do this. My favorite is to eat cooling foods like cucumbers on cold salad. A cold deli sandwich or some yogurt topped with granola and ripe, refrigerated fruit. Or how bout a home-made popsicle? I made the most recent batch by blending a watermelon into juice and freezing it with a few leaves of mint in each popsicle. Iced and cold foods will keep you from heating up from the inside out. The second way—the one favored by many nations that suffer constant high heat conditions—is to eat spicy food. The food makes you sweat and then your body’s natural cooling system is kicked into effect.
5. Cook Smart
Oven less, grill more. Try not to use the oven, wait for cold winter days for that. Instead, invest in a grill and take the heat outside. Grilling isn’t just for hamburgers and hot dogs, you can also grill up a pizza, or peach halves for dessert. When you do cook inside, make an effort to minimize using the stovetop. For example, if you just have to have noodles, buy rice noodles (available in the ethnic foods section of most grocery stores). To cook them you need only boil water, which you can do in a kettle, then pour the water over them and let them sit for a minute or two.
6. Reduce Unnecessary Usage
When you aren’t using an electronic device, unplug it. Even if your phone isn’t connected to the charger, the charger is still drawing power from the outlet. Keep what you have plugged in to a minimum. Things like televisions pull tons of power. Plug the whole TV/movie setup into a power strip and unplug the strip when you aren’t watching. Lights are another big power drain. Make it a habit to turn them off when you leave the room. My dad who used to follow us around and do this when we were kids would be so proud. We have track lighting in our bedroom and we recently took out half the lights on the track. Its not enough light to read by, but its plenty to light the way. I don’t read standing in the middle of the bedroom anyway! There’s a light next to the bed for that.
7. Adjust Your Water Heater Setting
When its hot outside, its likely you won’t be taking a really steamy shower. I want mine almost cold to keep from overheating. You can easily adjust your water heater’s setting to a cooler temperature. Most have some form of knob or dial you can turn by hand, no screwdrivers or handyman prowess necessary. And if you’re going out of town for any length of time, simply turn it off. Why heat it when you aren’t there?
8. Escape To Cooler Climates
Speaking of going out of town, give yourself a break from the heat by going somewhere colder. You don’t have to fly to another country to do this, but you do have to leave the house. Take a trip to the beach, sit under a big shady tree in a breezy park or travel to a mountain stream for a refreshing dip.
Of course, it will cost you a little money to get there (in fuel, if nothing else) but you’ll be happy you got out. If you really can’t afford a trip, you can always go to the mall or the movies or even the public library. Let them pay for the AC, just remember to turn your thermostat up before you go.
9. Go Low-Tech
Haven’t you noticed how hot your computer gets when it runs for an extended period of time? Lighting up that monitor creates heat. Same for the television. Go low-tech and read a book instead, or draw a picture or practice cooling yoga poses or listen to music on your ipod, that little screen won’t be nearly as hot as the big ones.
10. Open Up
Windows and doors that is. If you live where it cools off at night, take advantage of it. Open your house to the chill air, get a fan or two and circulate it. Fresh air also decreases the chance of catching a cold. Instances are higher in summer and winter when we are boxed into buildings with no fresh air. At home, when it starts to heat up during the day, close up the house again and consider closing the blinds and curtains to deflect the heat from hot sunny windows, too.