Sleepless in San Diego? Sweltering in Santa Barbara?
The debate over global warming goes on, but there’s no denying temperatures have been unseasonably hot in Southern California in recent weeks.
If you don’t have central air conditioning or multiple window units at home, life can get pretty uncomfortable. But the locals got by pretty well even before Frigidaire marketed the first room cooler in 1929–and so can you. (By the way, that first refrigeration unit used sulfur dioxide refrigerant, had a capacity of one ton (12,000 BTU), and was placed outside a house or in the basement).
An alternative to expensive central or evaporative systems are the waterless, portable a/c units that range from about $180 to $800, depending on BTU. Their beauty is they can be rolled from room to room and don’t need to be fitted into valuable window space.
Whether you’re on a budget or just want to tough it out during the hot times, plenty of advice is available on how to fend off the heat building up inside your home. They may not be perfect, but here some tried-and-true ways to keep cool, beat the heat, and trim the temps.
- Don’t let the sun shine in: If your windows get lots of sunlight, keep the rays out before they get indoors. Consider planting trees or putting up simple window overhangs. Solar-control reflective window films also can reduce heat and provide UV protection. A $7.99 app called Sun Surveyor shows you when and where the sun’s rays are likely to strike your home on a given day.
- Window treatments: If you can’t afford blinds, shutters or drapes, inexpensive bamboo screens can help block the heat. When those rays pass through uncovered windows, they heat up your floors, walls, furniture, and other objects. The heat stays trapped unless it is ventilated out. Dark drapes and shutters can help lower the temperature, but might be out of your budget. One trick is to buy inexpensive sheer drapes, wash them overnight, and hang them damp in the morning with the windows open. If there’s a breeze, it will pass through the drapes and help cool down your interior–at least for part of the day.
- Limit use of major appliances: Especially during daylight hours, it helps to use them as little as possible. Major appliances generate major heat. Try not to use the washer and dryer, or open the refrigerator door, unless really necessary, and–it should go without saying–the oven (except microwaves).
- Keep the air circulating: Fans can be a big help when used correctly. You can use them to either blow hot air out or cool air in, depending on the temperature indoors and outside. Experiment to see what works best in your home. Ceiling fans, and standing fans near windows, also force air where you want it to go. The oldest trick in the book is to place blocks, chunks, or bowls of ice in front of fans, with appropriately sized pans underneath to catch the drips. Even frozen ice packs will work.
- Keep your body cold: Take a foot bath in ice-cold water. Wrap a wet towel or scarf around your neck. Place an ice pack on your forehead or the back of your neck. Do anything you can to help lower your body temperature. You can even wear an ice vest that holds up to 96 freezable cubes to keep you chilled out for hours.
- Sleeping advice:
- Reduce the amount of bedding you use. Stick with natural fabrics like linen or 100 percent cotton. Synthetic blends don’t breathe enough to release all the heat your body generates during the night.
- Keep your sheets fresh. Southerners are known to sprinkle baby powder or talcum powder on their sheets to absorb sweat, and keep them feeling fresh and clean.
- Freeze your sheets and pillowcases for a few hours before bedtime. Put them on your mattress when you go to sleep.
- Sleep in a hammock when a bed is too uncomfortable.
- Use a mattress cover made of bamboo or grass matting. Asians have lined their beds with them for thousands of years to help stay cool.
And, of course, stay hydrated. Keep lots of cool or refrigerated water in the house and drink it often. It’s always your best defense against the heat, indoors or out.
Like what you see here? Sign up for more! Our free e-newsletter informs you of listings in your community, insider real estate tips, the latest in home trends, and more.