It’s not too bad out there yet here in Missouri—mid to upper 80s so far, but since we’re just now heading into June, the temps at night are dropping into the 60s. So we haven’t yet put in the window AC unit.
Surprisingly, my husband has yet to complain, even though we’re working on the bathroom remodel and it was pretty hot back there the last two days. And we’re both old enough to remember NOT having AC in our houses, although when you’re a kid it just doesn’t seem as bad.
But we have a few tricks up our sleeves, and you can use most of them too to keep from up your electric bill and still stay cool:
First, our house is built over a crawl space, a nice cool one. And our floors are tile. Most of you probably can’t or won’t remodel just for these things, but keep reading . . .
When we bought the farm, the entire house was open except for a wall down the middle with two doorways about one-third of the way from the front and back. It also had four ceiling fans, but lots of windows—the entire front of the house, facing south, has six windows and there are at least two or more on every other side. Doors in the bedroom too, that are waiting for us to have time to replace them with sliders.
We added three half-walls, and besides breaking up the house a bit into separate areas, it helps a lot with cooling. For instance, my office has three of those six southern windows, but the wall dividing it from the bedroom stops the heat at night.
I guess I should mention that we have porches on three sides, east, west, and south. Deep porches, with roofs. And lots of trees, which goes without saying when you live in the woods.
My point is that some of you will have an ideal setup and some of you might have to get more creative to keep yourself cool and forget about the house itself.
However, strategically using windows and fans can make a huge difference. We open our windows at night, once the temperature outside gets below 75 or so, and we close them in the morning when it rises above that.
So far, the house hasn’t gotten above 78 degrees during the day, and drops to nearly 65 at night.
And it’s not that I’m opposed to using the AC, but it seems artificial to me—it is, actually—and the slight noise it makes drives me nuts. I’m the same way with box fans running at night, and heaven forbid one actually blows directly on me!
When you have work to do, either outside or inside a warm house, take it easy and take frequent breaks. Have a drink! WATER, I mean. Yes. Water. But you can still overdo that, so don’t be chugging it down all day long, especially if it’s ice cold. You really don’t want to deal with muscle and stomach cramps on top of the heat.
There’s a lot of controversy about water intake—pay attention to your body. If your mouth is dry, you’re already slightly dehydrated. If you’re simply thirsty, have a drink. Again, WATER!
We’ve all heard about those “eight glasses a day,” and some people might need that, but it does include coffee, tea, soda, whatever. Yes, some have slight diuretic effects, so if you have a few cups or glasses or whatever each day, when it’s really hot, add an extra glass of water—which, by the way, means 8 ounces.
I drink about four cups of coffee a day and about four ice-tea size glasses of water, which are about 16 ounces each. The water, I mean, not the coffee. Okay, okay, AND a couple beers. Or so.
My point is that this is right for me—it might be right for you too, it might not. I can tell—when I’m slightly dehydrated, I start to get a little nagging headache. I slug down a glass of water, and it’s gone. Plus, you know, I pee like everyone else and I can tell from that too.
Back to the working part—get your chores and whatnot done early in the day or later in the evening. No one has to necessarily sleep those “normal” hours of 10:00 to 6:00 or whenever. Do what works for you. Me, I like to get up early and outside, then switch to inside when it’s really hot; I rarely work into the evening.
Working outside, stay in the shade when you can or make use of those early or late times to work in the sun. Wearing a hat can keep the sun from beating down, but when it’s hot, it’s hot, and a hat just makes me sweat more. Personal choice, if you will.
As an aside, I don’t wear sunscreen either. My doctor is not happy, but he’ll get over it. He also recommends the aforementioned hat. I DO, however, often tie a bandana around my head to keep the sweat out of my eyes, particularly when working in the garden. It makes for interesting tan line.
But that bandana has a lot of other uses too—you can wet it and tie it around your neck to keep cool and wipe down your arms and legs from time to time. Or, when taking a break, you can snap flies with it. For instant cooling, wrap up a couple ice cubes and hold them against the backs of your knees, the bend of your elbows, or under your arms. Works like a charm.
And really, it’s not that hot yet. Eighty-five degrees is just barely hot enough to swim—my mom never let us until the temp reached at least 80—and I’ve been out tilling the garden in this. I do take breaks, though, and drink water, and I’ve discovered that a 20-minute break is much more restorative than just five minutes or so.
So, back to work!