Summer is fast approaching, and many regions of the country are already starting to feel the heat. As the dreary days of winter start to disappear, the climbing temperatures are encouraging more and more people to reach for their thermostats — only to find that their air conditioning units have fallen to pieces during the cold weather months.
Fortunately, air conditioning isn’t the only way to stay cool. Whether your unit is dead or you are looking for a low-cost way to beat the heat, here are a handful of ways you can survive spring and summer and cool off without air conditioning.
First, Call the Repair Company, Stat
More likely than not, you don’t know anything about what it takes to get an air conditioning unit up and running again. Instead of tinkering with the complex machinery, you should call your local AC repair company and make an appointment. The earlier in the year you request their assistance, the faster they will be able to respond; when the real dog days of summer begin, everyone will be clamoring for air conditioning help, so you shouldn’t procrastinate a known issue even while the weather is good.
Rethink Your Lighting
Traditional incandescent bulbs may produce that warm, comforting glow that you’re used to, but they also waste nearly 90 percent of their energy on heat rather than light. In the summer, when indoor temperatures can pass 90 degrees, you’ll be able to feel every watt of heat your lightbulbs produce. Instead of being unbearably warm and energy inefficient, you can switch to CFL or LED bulbs; they last longer, lower your energy bill, and are cool as cucumbers fresh from the fridge.
Sunlight during the day can also warm the house through windows. To prevent your own private greenhouse effect, you should keep your windows closed and shades drawn during daylight hours. This simple solution can cool your indoor temperature about 20 degrees.
You can probably recall a time when a fresh breeze felt refreshing on a hot summer day, and having ceiling, window, and portable fans around your home allows you to recreate that sensation indoors at any time. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to each:
- Portable fans. These are by far the cheapest and most varied of your fan options. They come in all shapes and sizes, and you can easily move them here to there, but they can be noisy and their blast of air can be uncomfortably strong and direct.
- Window fans. Mounted on open window sills, window fans are high-functioning alternatives to AC units, and they save more space and provide more powerful cooling than portable fans. However, window fans can be particularly unsightly, and there is a strong possibility they’ll fall from their perch and break.
- Ceiling fans. Ceiling fans are useful in the winter and summer, as long as you have their rotation set correctly. They provide ambient cooling effects, are whisper-quiet (when balanced), and come in a variety of attractive styles.
Stay Out of the Kitchen
If you already can’t stand the heat, there is no point in cooking up a storm in a sweltering kitchen. Your stove and oven only add to the hot temperatures. If you don’t have a portable convection oven or grill, get one of each, and then you can take advantage of the evening outdoor weather while creating a pleasant seasonal meal.
You (as well as the average person) have 2.6 million sweat glands in your skin, but when indoor temperatures rise, sweat isn’t nearly enough to keep you cool and comfortable. Sweat’s cooling effect relies on the moisture’s ability to evaporate into the air, lowering the temperature of the skin it leaves behind. However, indoor temperatures may not quite be warm enough, windy enough, or dry enough to allow evaporation to occur.
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can aid the body’s effort to stay moist and chilled using other water sources. If you want to stay inside, you can wet a wash cloth or hand towel with cold tap water and drape it over various parts of your body, like your forehead, neck, and chest. Of course, one of the best ways to beat summer heat is to get drenched with water, which you can achieve plenty of different ways, from a soak in an icy bath to a swim in an outdoor swimming pool.
While you absolutely shouldn’t dally in fixing your AC unit, you can rest assured that there are dozens of ways to survive the spring and summer heat without it (for a short time). This year, you can adopt some or all of these cool methods to cut your energy bill, even if your AC is up and running just fine.