Step 10: Just be cool

Picture of Just be cool
As you're trying out these steps, keep in mind that for most of human history there has been no air conditioning. People who lived 100 years ago were not unhappy, unproductive, or miserable without it. Simply keeping this in mind will help you realize that it's not that hot.

Another thing to remember is that if its summertime, its okay to feel hot. Isn't that what we spend all winter wishing for? Let it be summertime and be a bit warmer. Eat some melon. Take a nap. Swim. Go to a BBQ. Its supposed to be warm!

Humans have lived in every climate for thousands of years. When did we get so fragile that we had to always be at a constant temperature of 72 degrees? Who came up with that number anyway?

Well that's the end of my rant and my instructable. Just remember that its okay to feel hot when its hot.

See you at the swimmin' hole!
It's supposed to be hot, but it's not supposed to be a blast oven every single day, over 102, and up to 110 for months on end! That was never a problem before now. I do very much love your suggestions; they make lots of sense in an average summer. Texas isn't having an average anything; colder and snowiest winter EVER in 2010-2011, second hottest summer EVER this year (so far; it's only mid August), the first was in 1980. Our forbearers didn't deal with THIS. We would certainly, many of us, die without A/C, and some have already, But I do applaud your ingenuity!
I agree! TX had it worst then OK, but still...a 120 heat index was a bit much to bear. Lost everything in my garden due to the heat, and July no rain. I save on electric in the spring, fall, and winter months. My electric bill is high four months out of twelve...so I fell I am not doing too bad in saving.
sgutperl4 years ago
Thanks for the ideas. We didn't have much of a summer this year but since A/C isn't quite as common around here as it is in the US your ideas about doing without sure are appreciated. Thinking back to my last visit to the United States I'm still shocked how people living through a hot, hot summer (not humid, really dry heat) would put their laundry in the dryer instead of hanging it outside and let the sun do the work. All that wasted energy and extra heat!
I don't have a dryer. I hang my laundry outside in the summer, and inside in the winter if it's too cold or overcast. But in answer to your statement of why American use dryers instead of hanging them outside is due to people, in cities and towns, stealing your clothes of the lines. Had a friend that this happen to in a small town. I don't have this problem as I live out in the country.
Boowiggins4 years ago
We've had over 40 days of 100+ F degree weather & very little rain. It is TOO that hot! But thankfully not inside here.
In humid parts of the continent, a dehumidifier will help the house feel cooler at much lower operating cost than an air conditioner.

If the house has a forced-air furnace, and especially if it has a basement, remove the door to the furnace air filter and run just the furnace fan. Do this during the part of the day when it is so much hotter outside than inside that the house stays cooler by keeping doors and windows shut. The idea is to pull cooler air out of the basement and up through the house. If you are using a smallish portable dehumidifier, place it in the basement near the open furnace filter door to draw dry air up into the house.

In sunny parts of the continent, those canvas window shades that people used to use before mechanical air conditioners became working-class will help reduce solar gain through windows. Remember to take them down at the end of the hot season, so they last longer.

If your house is brick, stucco, stone or concrete, English ivy vines will reduce the thermal loading on the house structure. Once the vines really start to grow, remember to clip them back from the wooden parts about once a year.

Shade trees are mentioned in the article. To expand on this topic, plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides, and maybe on the east side as well. Also plant deciduous trees where they will shade paved areas like driveways and the street. Conifers work best as wind breaks on the north side.

Hang an open trellis from the soffit on the east, south and west sides of the house, with the bottoms of the trellises a few inches above dirt. Use cup hooks and eyes to fasten them to the soffit. Plant fast growing annuals like sweetpeas beneath the trellises and encourage the stems to grow into the trellises. Put the trellises away at the end of the hot season, so they last longer.

In those few urban areas that are not yet faced with water shortages, lay a soaker hose along the roofline and turn the tap on just enough so that you can't hear water in the eavestrough. Don't use sprinklers on the roof as any water in the air does not cool the house as it evaporates, so it is just wasted. Turn the water off every day by about 4:00 PM.

For those blessed with a Saws-All in their toolbox. try renovating the kitchen wall so that your refrigerator dumps its waste heat out of doors during the hot season. Clever application of adjustable dampers could allow this same waste heat to be directed into the house during the cooler seasons.

mblake74 years ago
I would suggest adding another step, which is "Dehumidify!" If you live in a humid climate, it's much harder for your body to thermoregulate by sweating, since the sweat on your skin just plain won't evaporate. Also, humid air tends to lose less heat at night than dry air, so it doesn't cool down as much at night in humid climates. If you keep a dehumidifier in your bedroom while keeping the windows closed, you'll sleep much more comfortably than if you're exposed to cooler-than-daytime but humid air. IIRC, dehumidifiers use substantially less energy than air conditioning, and the water they collect is graywater suitable for watering houseplants and non-edible garden plants.
Lady Vania4 years ago
Oh genius! I do most of these things anyway. However, I am very prone to heat sickness, so I really need to be careful about my body temperature. Thanks for the tips!!!
nmanning4 years ago
These are some good tips- not for everybody, but still good tips.

We live in a high humidity area, where the nights are in the mid to high 80's and the heat index feels like it's in the mid 90's. :c I really wish we can do half of these, but we do need to utilize AC for a few months. I do a lot of these already to run it less though- and I think our neighbors think we're vampire freaks who never open our curtains or turn on the upstairs lights. Lol
What is wrong with the glass at the end0_0
Dorien4 years ago
I enjoyed your Instructable. It was a good reminder to people of things some know and others would never have thought of without your words. You did a good job of clarity and making it curiously interesting. Thank you. Yours in Christ, Dorien, in hot Zuni VA
Great write up, I try to run my a/c less, keeping the temp between 75 and 80. Already implemented many of these steps. Naked...check, fans.....check, hydrated.....check. Besides, a/c makes the house smell funny
wgarcia4 years ago
I have two suggestions too keep cool as well.

With windows, if you are allowed to, tint them with window tint used on cars, it actually cools your room down a bit, although it might make your room a little bit darker.

Limit yourself to using your desktop computer (or having it on) because sometimes the exhaust from the fans tends to heat up your bedroom which will make you uncomfortable as well.
tlami4 years ago
totally agree with all your suggestions. I HATE to be cold in the summer! I do all your suggestions and haven't turned our ac on in 2 years. A few years ago it was broken and we didn' t fix it for about 3 years. Once in a while the house gets a little musty smelling and I'll run it for a day or two but haven't this year or last. the dehumidifier does help with that....
davedoc4 years ago
Maybe I missed it, but I'm surprised that you did not suggest a dehumidifier. For those that have AC and have the unit in the basement, adding a dehumidifier to your basement makes the AC in the house work better.
sb4 davedoc4 years ago
Good point about dehumidifier -- we had one in a basement and it felt like air conditioning.

Just watch out for mold growing in the dehumidifier .. they have ways to ward it off.
I have a glass just like that. DAS BOOT!
mslaynie4 years ago
As someone with chronic illnesses that are exacerbated by the heat, no... it really is bad to get to 110° every day for hours on end, even if that 110° is just the heat index. I don't long for summer in the winter, and frankly, people like me died in previous years. That's why you didn't hear us complaining.

I don't mean to be a downer, but perhaps you could add some disclaimers stating that this works best in certain climates, or that people with medical conditions should be safe, etc. Unfortunately, these tips just don't help all that much everywhere.
onemoroni14 years ago
Years ago at another location in So Cal I had a hand me down above ground pool. It was fantastic not only to cool off during the day, but a dip before bedtime took the body temperature down where you would be comfortable to fall asleep most of the night. Kinda of like the cold shower idea, but more enjoyable as a swim.
GaryGary4 years ago
Great list -- thanks!

For a lot of homes, a large fraction of the heat gain (one study showed 47%) is sun through windows, so reducing heat gain through windows can be very helpful. Shading on the outside of the window is much more effective than blinds on the inside. We use a set of exterior rollup shades to shade our large east facing windows -- they have helped to keep the house much cooler. They still let in plenty of light and offer filtered view:

jj.inc4 years ago
I recommend putting your refrigerator in an enclosed space and using a fan to blow the air outside. They create a tremendous amount of heat you normally wouldn't notice. Our deep freeze is in a small closet space right beside a small room with an evaporative cooler. The room gets very hot usually dwelling in the 80's so if you do close it off at least you aren't running a theoretical heater.
stubbsonic4 years ago
These are great tips and ideas! Well done.

Here's a couple more:

My friend showed me that a hand towel (the smaller sized towel), wet with cold tap water, wrung out, and draped around the neck is cooling-- especially with a room fan on.

If you have to be outside, and under the sun, a light colored umbrella can make a difference. Do they make them with foil or something that can really block the light?
Dark colored clothing absorbs more heat and thus makes you warmer so it makes sense to wear light colored clothing next to the skin.

However, an umbrella is not touching the body so it will not make you warmer. I find that a dark colored umbrella makes more shade and thus keep you cooler.

Good Instructable.