How to stay cool without air conditioning

(CNN) – If you are one of the more than 20 million people who experience the Northwest heat wave, you may be wondering how to stay cool, especially if you don’t have air conditioning or don’t want to use it constantly.

Cities in the US and Canada have reported their highest temperatures, some of which are still above 40.6 degrees Celsius.

If you’re still not comfortable going to an air-conditioned swimming pool or public facility at this point in the pandemic, there are ways to get comfortable with or without turning on the air conditioning.

Here are 12+ ways to cool your body and protect your home from the heat outside.

Keep hydrated

When you’re hot, hydrating is the first and most important step to cool down, said Wendell Porter, senior professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Florida.

The temperature of the water does not matter, as your body will heat it, he added. If your body suffers from heat and needs to cool down, you cannot do it without enough moisture, as the body cools itself by sweating.

Take a cold shower or bath

Taking a cold shower or bath helps cool your body by lowering your core temperature, Porter said.

For an extra blast of freshness, try peppermint soap. The menthol in peppermint oil activates receptors in the brain that tell your body that something you are eating or feeling is cold.

Use cold wipes on your neck or wrists

Put a cold towel or ice packs (packets) on your wrists or put them around your neck to cool your body.

These pulse points are areas where the blood vessels are close to the skin, so you will refresh yourself more quickly.

Use case fans

Place box fans facing out of the windows of rooms where you spend time to expel the hot air and replace it with cool air indoors.

If the weather in your area tends to drop between 10 and 21 degrees Celsius in the mornings and nights, opening the windows on both sides of the house during those times can facilitate a cross-flow ventilation system.

If you do this, you can choose whether or not to use the fans, but the fans would help cool the house faster, Porter said. The outdoors can draw warm air out of your home, leaving a cooler temperature or bringing in a breeze. Just be sure to close the windows when the sun is out, then open them when the weather turns cool again.

You may not leave your windows open for safety reasons, but if you’re home longer due to the pandemic, this method might be doable, Porter said.

Simply resting near a fan will also lower your body temperature.

Close the curtains or blinds

If you have windows that face the sun from morning to afternoon, close the curtains or blinds to “keep the sun from coming directly into the house and heating the interior,” Porter said.

You can also install blackout curtains to insulate the room and reduce the temperature rises that would occur during the day.

If you turn on the air conditioner, don’t set it below 21 degrees Celsius in an effort to cool the house faster, said Samantha Hall, CEO of Spaces Alive, a design research company that helps create healthy and sustainable buildings.

“It just runs longer to get to that temperature and it will keep running until you start to feel a little chilly and then it’s hard to balance,” he added. Instead, keep the unit’s temperature as high as possible while still being comfortable.

Sleep on breathable sheets

Cotton is one of the most breathable materials, so cotton sheets or blankets can help keep you cool at night.

The lower the thread count in cotton, the more breathable it is, Porter said. That’s because higher thread counts have more fabric per square inch.

Sleep in the basement

If you can’t sleep through the night because you’re too hot, try sleeping somewhere other than your bedroom, if that’s an option.

Heat rises, so if you have a lower level or basement in your home, set up a temporary sleeping area there to experience cooler temperatures at night.

Do not refrigerate or freeze blankets or clothing

A common tip for staying cool without air conditioning includes refrigerating or freezing wet socks, blankets, or clothing and then blowing them to wear while you sleep. But this is not a good idea, Porter said.

“The amount of energy they can absorb from your body that night will be hot in a matter of minutes,” he said. And then you would have wet things that would shape your mattress. So you definitely don’t want to do that.

Close the doors of unused rooms

If no one is using a room that does not have vents or registers, close the door to that area to keep fresh air confined only to occupied areas of the house.

Use the exhaust fan in your kitchen and / or bathroom

Flip the switch on the exhaust fan in your kitchen to draw hot air that rises after cooking or in your bathroom to draw steam after you shower.

Install energy saving light bulbs

Incandescent bulbs generate a higher temperature than LED bulbs. To make the switch, keep an eye out for energy saving light bulb sales, then slowly replace the bulbs in your house, Porter said.

Changing light bulbs can save money but won’t reduce the heat in the home much, Hall said. However, if you focus on changing the bulbs in areas close to where you’re sitting, that would make a more noticeable difference, Porter said.

Cook in the morning, with a slow cooker or outside

The heat from the oven can spread throughout your home.

Keep the heat centralized in one area, like a slow cooker. Or cook outside on a grill to keep the heat outside.

Enjoy frozen treats

Eating a popsicle or ice cream to cool you down can help for a moment. But don’t go overboard on sugar if you’re overheated or at risk of overheating, Porter said.

“The sugar would increase your metabolism and you would start to feel warm internally,” he said. “So fresh candy may be good, but extra sugar may not.”

Research what your state offers

If you’ve tried everything and still can’t beat the heat at home, you can search online for any local program that offers ductless air conditioners.

Depending on your state, some cooling centers (air-conditioned public facilities where people can go for relief during extremely hot weather) can be open and take precautions to ensure they are as safe as possible.

You can start by checking with your local utility offices, as they would know who offers certain programs, Porter recommended.

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