When summer gets hot, we all look for ways to get cooled off. You could run the air conditioner all day and night, but that gets expensive and can be really hard on the environment. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can cool off without having to spend a lot of money.
The key to staying cool is to leverage your own physiology and the natural world around you, as well as whatever air con systems you can access. While you can visit walk-in coolers all over town—and that might be one way of dealing with a hot day—that’s just one way to beat the heat.
Get out on the water
Water stays cooler than land most of the time. There are a couple reasons for this. First, while the rays of the sun will affect the temperature both water and land, water is slower to respond. This means it takes a lot longer for water to heat up to the same temperatures that the nearby ground is experiencing.
Another reason that it tends to be cooler by bodies of water is sometimes referred to as lake-breeze. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the lake and land temps are quite different, and it causes cool air to flow naturally across the body of water.
You can take advantage of this by swimming, fishing, or checking out new and used boat sales to get a comfortable way to spend some time where nature has made things more comfortable. Just be sure not to get out on the lake in the direct sun and spend a lot of time moving around.
Keep the air moving
Moving air always feels cooler on your skin than still air. There are three reasons for this. First, if we’re sweating, a breeze of any sort will cause the water on your skin to evaporate more quickly, which enhances our natural way of keeping cool.
The second reason it works is the physics of molecule movement. When molecules move rapidly around in random directions, you perceive this movement as heat. When those same molecules move rapidly in just one direction, you perceive this as cool.
The final reason that moving air helps keep you cool is that it moves your body heat away from you quickly, helping you to cool down quickly. You can enhance the effectiveness of a fan by keeping your skin slightly wet and staying in the shade.
Keep your air conditioner in good repair
On some days you really will have to use your air conditioner, and in certain places it might not be safe to go without it; especially for the elderly or the very young. One way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your HVAC system is to bring in an HVAC repair contractor regularly to do routine maintenance.
Maintenance keeps things clean and ensures the unit works at peak efficiency. This means you get more cool air with less expenditure of energy (and lower utility costs). If the unit is working at its best, you will not need to use it as often.
Your professional HVAC contractor can also advise you about the size of your system. If your system is too small for the space, it will eat up energy doing a poor job of keeping you cool; and then it will break easily. If the system is too big, it will shut on and off too often, shortening the life of your unit.
Spend the afternoon at the mall
One way to get relief from the heat is to get out while things are at their worst. Depending on where you live, the hottest part of the day could be around 3:00pm or closer to 5:00pm; but either way you can escape to the mall for a few hours and get some inexpensive relief.
Of course it doesn’t have to be a mall you visit. You could also head over to your nearest big box store, save your grocery shopping for the hot part of the day, or visit the community pool. The beach, the mountains, and the bowling alley are all possible options.
If you like to see movies, save your movie expenditures for the days where the heat index is forecast to be highest. A cool seat in a dark theatre can make the whole day a lot more bearable.
Don’t underestimate the shade
When things are humid, you might not really notice the shade as being that much cooler than standing in the sun. Spend enough time in one or the other condition, though, and you’ll start to notice the difference pretty quickly.
Even if ambient temperatures are similar, just getting out from under the sun’s beating rays can make all the difference. When your skin is not being subjected to solar radiation, it will start to feel cooler: typically between 10 and 15 degrees cooler than being in the sun.
Don’t forget that certain surfaces absorb and then reflect solar radiation. The pavement we drive on and the sidewalk around your home can do this; meaning that if you spend a lot of time walking out on pavement you’re liable to feel baked between sidewalk and sun.
Eat smaller meals
There are a couple good reasons to do this. The last thing you want to do on a really hot day is heat up the whole house by firing up the kitchen stove. Moving around makes you hotter, too, so minimize your cooking time to stay cool.
Another reason to avoid large meals is that digestion takes a lot of metabolic energy. The more you have to digest, the more you make your body work: and that produces heat. While your body is working metabolically, it will be that much harder to stay cool.
Be sure to also eat things with plenty of water in them. This will aid in hydration and help you to feel cool. This means plenty of fruit and vegetables instead of high-fat items or heavy carbohydrates that will sit like a lump in your stomach.
Keep cool along the edges
Your head is one of the primary areas where body heat escapes; which is why wearing a hat in the winter warms you up. For the summer, this means that keeping your head uncovered and your hair short will generally make you feel cooler.
The exception is when you are standing out in the sun. Then you want something between your head and the solar radiation, and a light-colored hat made of a breathable material is the best way to allow body heat to escape while protecting you from the sun.
Your wrists and feet are other places to target when you want to keep cool. At the wrists and feet your blood vessels run closer to the surface than at other parts of the body, so running cool water over these areas can help to cool down your whole body. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to get to sleep.
Don’t settle for being a sweaty mess all summer. Take advantage of what you have to keep cool and comfortable all season long. Find cool places, eat cool foods, and keep out of the direct sun.