In the Northern Hemisphere, there's no doubt summer is here — and with it, the perpetual quest to stay cool. For those of us interested in sustainability, the thought of huge summer cooling bills (and all the greenhouse emissions they cause) is enough to send a chill down the spine.
You've probably heard the basics of summertime energy management: keep your air conditioner filters clean, make sure your weather stripping is tight, draw the drapes during the heat of the day, and avoid the use of big heat-creating appliances like ovens and ranges whenever possible. If you want a quick review of hot weather energy-saving ideas, check this giant list of summer cooling tips.
But there are other ways to keep your cool through the summer. We've rounded up five for your consideration, including several tried-and-true methods from the days before central air. Give one or two a shot, and see how they work for you.
1) Go tropical
Take the lead of those who spend most of their lives in tropical climates: loose, lightweight cotton and linen clothing rules.
The guayabera, sometimes called the "Mexican wedding shirt," is constructed to cool you naturally. A relative of the traditional Filipino barong, the guayabera wicks moisture from the skin and is worn untucked to promote air circulation. Madras is another good summertime choice for both men's and women's clothing.
Don't forget the old standard of the American Deep South: seersucker. Originally an Indian import, its crisp cotton and cooling ridges make it a hot weather classic.
2) Cool that pulse point
When you were sick as a child, your mom may have brought you a cold facecloth. This idea works the same way.
Chill your pulse points by running cold water over your wrist for a minute or so each hour. Splashing water on your temples or face can produce a similar effect. And be sure to put some of that tap water into a glass and stay hydrated.
3) Don't eat: Graze
Ever notice how you feel hot after a big meal? It's not just because the food was served warm.
Big, protein-laden meals force your body to stoke its metabolic fires. The solution is to break up your eating into smaller, more frequent meals. You'll feel cooler — and it's better for you, anyway.
4) Eat to sweat
Latin America, India, Thailand — some of the world's hottest places. And they happen to serve some of the world's hottest foods.
Scientists have argued for years over why this is the case, but the most likely reason is that spicy foods make you sweat without actually raising body temperature. Chalk it up to capsaicin, a chemical found in things like hot peppers. Once your skin is damp, you'll feel cooled by its evaporation.
Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to also reread our article on choosing a safer deodorant.
5) Stay cool under the covers
A lot of people find it difficult to sleep in hot weather.
Want to cool the bed down? Fill a standard hot water bottle with ice water. Use it to cool your ankles and the back of your knees — it works. You can also try bagging your sheets and tossing them in the freezer for an hour or two before bed.
Cooling your head cools your entire body. Opt for a cool and absorbent pillow of organic cotton if at all possible. Put aside down and latex pillows until the weather cools down this autumn.