Updated: Feb 17
Summer weather is on its way. Instead of heading down the slippery slope of air conditioning your home (once you pop those units in for the first 90 degree day, they tend to stay on all summer), try these age-old and remarkably effective methods instead. Work with the natural rhythm of the summer day and use your home and your freezer/refrigerator to keep you cool.
1. Keep out the heat! Here in New Hampshire, it is almost always cool at night even when it is really hot during the day. In order to regulate the temperature inside your house, you can keep the windows open all night, running a box fan if you want, and then close all the windows once things heat up in the morning. Light-blocking curtains work well if you have them, but, if you don’t, tacking up your winter blankets over the windows works too. If you have the money for it, I would highly suggest weatherizing your home because it will keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and save you money too!
2. Plan your day around the sun. Adopt a siesta schedule for the summer, if you can. Don’t plan to drive anywhere, run, bike, garden, or even swim in the hottest hours of the day (between 11 and 2) if you can help it. Save these activities for the mornings and evenings when it is cooler. Swimming in the evening before bed is a great way to cool off. Our family bikes over to a local pond most hot nights to cool off.
3. Set up a summer kitchen. Your fridge and your freezer are your best friends in a heat wave. And no, I don’t mean you should stand in the open door of your fridge for hours! Stock your fridge and freezer with cool drinks and snacks, like homemade popsicles, gazpacho, and sun tea. Keep your oven and stovetop powered down and choose sandwiches and cold snacks instead. You can also cook outside on the grill to keep your house cool.
The recipe for this delicious (and cold!) green soup includes cucumbers and purslane.
4. Dress for the weather. Dress in light colored, thin clothes and tie up long hair. Invest in a wide-brimmed hat and a loose-fitting sun shirt for when you need to go out in the bright sun.
5. When the nights get really hot, camp out in the coolest place in your house. When I was a kid, we used to have an old mattress in the basement for really hot nights and my sister and I would sleep down there. Camping outside is also a great way to get away from the heat of the house. Make sure air is circulating in the room. Even a warm breeze helps when the heat is stifling.
6. If you’re desperate for some AC during the day, visit a public place already running one. Go to the library, a bookstore, a grocery store, or a restaurant or cafe to cool off (thank you COVID vaccines!). If you can, get yourself a cool drink (in a reusable cup) while you’re there or make yourself an afternoon ice coffee.
7. If you just can’t stand the heat on those 95 degree days and nothing else is working, use an energy star air conditioning unit and cool as little of your home as possible. For example, set it up in the living room and everyone can camp down there. Only run it at night if you can’t sleep and turn it off once the air outside has cooled down. And, please, don’t let it become a habit or you’ll start using it on days you don’t need it.
I hope these tricks will help you to keep cool without the AC this summer. I have lived in New Hampshire for the majority of my life and have never used an AC. I’ve certainly been hot sometimes, but I’m proud of my Yankee hardiness. Join the AC-free NH crowd now!