North Texans know that as school starts and we usher in meteorological autumn, we still have a few more months of heat to look forward to. After one of the hottest, and most expensive, summers on record, you may find yourself cutting back on a few things, including cooling your home. While staying cool is vital to your health and wellbeing, there are ways to stay cool without feeling it in your pocketbook.
Sounds simple enough, but most adults don’t drink enough water every day. In fact, only about 22% drink the recommended 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. That statistic can be even more concerning when you consider the fact that your body loses more water during warm months via sweating. While it may seem counterintuitive, sweating is actually the body’s way of cooling itself off. When you sweat, you’re losing water, but that sweat is also taking body heat away with it. Without enough water in your system, though, your body will struggle to cool itself off.
So, staying hydrated plays a vital role in keeping us cool. However, contrary to popular belief, reaching for an ice-cold glass of water doesn’t do a better job of cooling you down than a room temperature, or even hot, glass of water. No matter the temperature of the water, your body will heat it up regardless, and may actually work harder to heat that ice-cold water up than room temperature water. The Brightside is that you don’t have to stress about the temperature of the water, just as long as you’re getting enough of it.
Use Cold Water to Your Advantage
That being said, there are some circumstances where cold water can be an ally in helping you keep your cool. While not very many people enjoy a cold shower, a quick rinse or sitting in a tub of cool water will help lower your core body temperature. If jumping in the shower isn’t convenient, you can also place a cold washrag, ice packs or simply run cold water against your wrists for 30 seconds. Because the blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin at your wrists, the cold can penetrate quicker to these vessels, cooling down the blood in your arms which can then circulate to the rest of your body.
Close Your Blinds and Curtains
Closing up the curtains and blinds keeps the sun from coming directly into your home and heating up the inside, in turn making it uncomfortably warm for you.
While often pricey, a good pair of blackout curtains are a year-round investment because they can help block out the sun’s warmth in the summer and help insulate and trap heat in the winter.
And we know what you’re thinking, but before you close those inside doors or vents in an attempt to save some energy and money only cooling the rooms you’re occupying, it can actually waste more energy unless your home does not have a central air system. Your system is set up to cool your home efficiently based on size, so when you close the vents or doors, you disrupt the flow of air in your home, causing the system to work less efficiently. Although, you can have your cake and eat it too by closing your vents about 50% of the way and keeping those interior doors open will ensure that air keeps circulating throughout your home and can help keep you cool and lower your energy bill.
However, if you have window units, lowering the temperature of the window unit and closing the door to rooms you’re not occupying can help ensure your window units are working efficiently to cool the rooms you are in.
Fans, Fans, Fans
If your home has ceiling fans, make sure it’s spinning counterclockwise to ensure the downflow of air. You can control this with a switch located just above the light feature of your fan, or above the blades if your fan does not have a light. For ceiling fans with vertical switches, flip the switch down (think down for downward flow), and for horizontal switches, flip the switch to the left.
Using portable fans can also help circulate air in your home, allowing it to feel less stuffy at warmer temperatures.
If your kitchen or bathroom has an exhaust fan, using them while cooking or showering can help pull hot air up and out of the room.
Research What’s Available Near You
If you've tried everything and still can't beat the heat at home, there are programs throughout North Texas offering free air conditioners and/or cooling shelters you can head to.