Air Conditioning: Stay Cool This Summer Without It

alternatives to acIt's 105 degrees outside and your air conditioner is on the fritz. The window unit is spewing out hot air. Maybe you never got around to installing the air conditioner in the first place -- you always had luck getting a breeze just by opening up your windows except, as luck would have it, this summer.

Or maybe the idea of an AC unit is a violation of your green lifestyle? But today is one of the summer's most sweltering days and you're miserable...

Well, here's what you can do to prepare your home and yourself for the record-breaking heat -- all sans air-conditioning.

It's not 105 degrees yet, but it will be in a few weeks. Here's how to prepare:

1. Consider installing blackout shades that not only block out the light to allow you to sleep in, but also prevent heat from penetrating your interior. Or another option is to hang shades that are a light color, to reflect rather than absorb the heat.

2. Do you have a basement? Think about moving your bedroom temporarily to your naturally frigid cave during the scorching days of summer. Or because warm air rises, at least, consider sleeping or hanging out on a lower level to escape the heat.

3. Attach awnings to the exterior of your home, which roughly reduces solar heat by 65 to 75 percent and will lower the temperature of your home.

4. Let's take a closer look at your landscaping. Large areas of rock, cement or asphalt on the south and west sides of your home increase the temperature and radiate heat into the home, even after the sun goes down. Plant trees or shrubs to shade and cool the exterior of your home that gets hit by the sun's rays.

It's already 105 degrees and you're sweating uncontrollably. Here are quick fixes:

1. Think about all the things that cause temperatures to rise in your apartment and consider avoiding them when it's boiling out. For example, air dry your dishes instead of using the dishwasher, order takeout or make a cooling salad instead of cooking, take a lukewarm shower instead of a steaming one, and let your hair dry au naturel and skip the hairdryer. If you must run hot water that produces steam, use your exhaust fans to remove the humid, heat-inducing air.

2. Keep the air flowing by switching on fans and opening windows. If you're in a multi-level home or duplex without air conditioning, put a fan in the upstairs window and direct it to suck out the lingering hot air to the outdoors. To enhance the work that your fan is doing, freeze some liters of bottled water and position the fan to blow on them. The air around the bottles will be cooled as the ice melts.

3. It's sounds old-fashioned, but a cold cloth on your forehead or the nape of your neck has its merits. Also cool off your pulse points by splashing cold water over your wrists and temples.

4. Keep drinking water -- lots of it. As simple as it seems, staying hydrated keeps your body temperature from ticking up.

5. Wear light-colored, loose clothing. Softer colors reflect sunlight and baggy pieces are going to be more breathable.

6. Top your dinner off with some hot peppers or cayenne -- seriously. Spicy foods make you sweat and will cool your body, and don't worry -- it won't raise your body temperature. As the moisture evaporates off your skin, you get some respite from the heat.

7. In ayurvedic medicine, there are certain foods that are "cooling," such as collard greens, chard, spinach, salad greens, celery, summer squash, dill, mint, and cucumbers. Try snacking on these fresh summer veggies for an extra boost in cooling down.
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