7/07/2012

How to Keep Cool (and Sane) This Sweltering Summer


I've been absent from this blog for much too long. For some reason I just can't seem to post with any regularity. Blame it on family commitments in June (a wedding and family reunion) and now the HEAT!  Today is our first day in over a week with normal summer temperatures. It's a beautiful 83˚ day with low humidity, a blue sky, and gentle breezes. I woke up early this morning and went around the house opening every window to let in the fresh cool air. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! Considering that the past week felt hot as hell that's not a rash statement. Also my brain started functioning again. I feel like I've woken up from a semi-vegetative state and suddenly have my energy back. So long sofa. We've spent way too much time together lately.

We're not exactly strangers to uncomfortable summertime weather here in the midwest. The humidity can get oppressive even when the temperatures aren't high. So far the dew points haven't been too bad but with temperatures kissing 100˚ for several days in a row it was just as miserable. So here are a few things we do to in our home to try and make life more tolerable in hot weather.
  • If it's been cool enough to have the windows open at night we will close everything up again first thing in the morning to try and retain that cooler air for as long as possible.
  • Blinds and shades are closed to the sun facing windows, so east windows in the morning and west windows in the afternoon. I've noticed a real difference now that we have our new energy efficient windows. The old single pane glass used to get hot to the touch and the new windows stay cool. We have quite a few east and south facing windows so that alone makes quite a difference. 
  • We try to keep the AC set no lower than 77˚ and use the circulating fan feature on the HVAC. Just having that air movement makes it feel a few degrees cooler. If I'm in the kitchen cooking I also like to use a tower fan to help dissipate the extra heat that may be generated. 
  • I try to do any cooking or baking early in the day so I don't have to use the stove or cooktop at dinnertime. A quick reheat in the microwave at mealtime doesn't heat up the house. Other options are cold meals, the crock pot or outdoor cooking. 
  • I take cool baths! It feels wonderful to submerge myself into a nice cool clawfoot tub and enjoy a lengthy soak. Granted I have the luxury of a big old tub and we're empty nesters so no one is pounding on the door wanting to use the bathroom. *
  • That brings me to towels. After a bath or shower I will take my towels and hang them outside or on clotheslines we have strung in the basement. They dry better, don't add to the humidity in the house and don't get that funky sour smell they get if they don't fully dry. 
  • If I don't have to go anywhere I'll let my hair air dry after washing it. It doesn't look as nice as  blow dry styling but at least I'm not blasting hot air at my head and contributing to more heat in the house.  I have really thick hair so it can take as much as a half day to fully dry to the roots but even that helps keep me cooler. My husband says he likes my more bohemian look anyway, aka frizzy hair. : )
  • If I have laundry to do I'll try to do it early or late. I don't use the dryer much in summer and especially not on hot days. I'll line dry morning laundry outside if weather permits and if not, or if it's evening, I drape the wet laundry on my basement lines and drying racks. It's surprising how quickly it dries. 
  • We use a dehumidifier in the basement which is a real necessity at keeping mold and mildew at bay. We have ours set up with a hose to the drain. We used to have to empty the tank and were forever forgetting. The water is great however if you have hard water as we do and need softened water for anything. In summer I save a few gallons in emptied milk jugs to use for my steam iron. I filter it first just in case there is anything that has settled out.
  • Our porch windows have blinds that I can pull down. Even though those are uncooled areas it still helps keep the cushions on the porch furniture from fading. I've even been known to hang sheets or beach towels in front of the full length glass doors on really hot days. Not the prettiest sight but when it gets really hot I'm more concerned with function than looks.
So how have you been surviving the heat wave? Any tricks or tips you want to share? Have any good recipes that don't involve cooking?  Making plans to move to Alaska?

*My dream house will have an outdoor shower. Or at the very least have a private yard where I can run through a sprinkler without the neighbors thinking I've lost my marbles.


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