Air-Conditioning Alternatives That Help You Chill

how to keep cool in the summerDear Apartment Guru,

My air conditioning is totally done. Just caput. And I can't afford another one until three paychecks from now. Any suggestions for what I should do in the meantime -- and by "meantime" I mean MEANtime?

-- Cold Cold Heart, Hot Hot Apartment

Dear Cold Cold/Hot Hot,

I feel your pain. I spent the summer of 1995 in Boston without an air conditioner. Now, while the body does forget pain, I clearly remember days and nights with ice cubes down my shirt and tears in my eyes.

You weren't clear about what tools you do have in your air-conditioning-free zone, but if you have a fan, make sure you get it out. If you don't, please ask your friends, family and co-workers to loan you one ASAP. If no one has an extra to spare, please post on Craigslist or call around to local thrift stores and Goodwill.

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During the days, you can distract yourself from the heat by watching TV, cooling off in the tub, donning a wet T-shirt or even leaving your house to go to the movies or a museum. But at night, those can be the hours when the heat crawls into your brain and blocks sleep like a linebacker at the end zone.

The best way to sleep in the heat is to put your fan next to your bed. Then, wet a bath towel and ring it out well. Cover yourself with the towel, wipe your face and shoulders with it, then roll it up under your neck, repeating this process until you fall asleep.

If you live alone or with an agreeable partner, wear as little as possible when you are in the house. In fact, I suggest full-on nudity. However, if you have to wear something, natural fibers are the most breatheable.

Also, consider how much sun your apartment gets. During the hours the sun is in the window, cover it up. You can keep the daylight in by hanging a white sheet over the windows to reflect the heat and keep your house slightly cooler. Closing the blinds works too.

And, break out some ice packs. If you don't have any, use a bag of ice or frozen peas or corn. Move it around to different parts of your skin to lower your body temperature. Then, maybe use it as a frozen snack!

Which brings me to my final point, Cold Cold/Hot Hot, mind what you eat and drink. Spicy foods are known to bring down the body temperature. Also, cold soups, fresh salads and simple foods that are easy to digest will help you tough things out for the time being. Booze and caffeine will heat you up in the long run, but water and liquids high in electrolytes will cool you down. Maybe even make yourself a big pitcher of iced mint tea. Keep ice water at the ready in your fridge and add cucumber or lemon to it.

Then think cool thoughts and be grateful that we live post 1902, when the first air conditioning unit was invented!

Have a question for the Apartment Guru? Email her at:

The Aparment Guru is Joselin Linder, co-writer of "The Good Girls Guide to Living in Sin" and "Have Sex Like You Just Met." Having rented apartments and houses in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Columbus, OH and abroad in Prague, she knows what it means to live in a home you don't own and still make it homey. Anything she doesn't know, she isn't afraid to ask.

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