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  • Writer's pictureDr. Farrukh Chishtie

Eco-friendly tips for staying cool


Amy McCarthy

In many areas of the country, this summer is expected to bring record heat. That means higher electricity bills and more usage of fossil fuels. But there are more ways to stay cool than just cranking up the air conditioning, many of which are eco-friendly. Flip through the list for 18 eco-friendly ideas for staying cool this summer, from chilly frozen water bottles to a DIY swamp cooler that's surprisingly powerful.

Wear flowy, natural fabrics

Synthetic fabrics trap heat, and that's a recipe for a sweaty mess during the summer. Stick to natural fabrics like cotton and linen when it's seriously hot outside and choose garments that are breezy and flowy for optimal cooling.

Make sure your ceiling fans are spinning in the right direction

Depending on the direction it's spinning, your ceiling fan can be more or less efficient at cooling a room. Check your manual for specifics, but most ceiling fans have a small switch that you can use to change its direction to make sure that it's pushing all the cool air down into your room.

Invest in good fans

Moving the air around can make a major difference in a hot, stuffy room. Invest in good-quality fans for your living spaces and bedrooms but try to only run them when you're in the room to avoid wasting energy.

Use heavy drapes to keep the heat out

Sheer curtains let in plenty of sunshine, and that's a problem when it's seriously hot outside. Swap out your sheers for heavy, light-filtering drapes that will keep your space cooler all day long, but especially on the sunniest summer days.

Do outdoor activities in the morning and evening

Getting outside during the summer is great, but try to keep your strenuous activities to early in the morning and just after sundown to avoid having to rapidly cool down your home after you've broken a sweat working in the garden or going for a run.

Make a DIY "swamp cooler"

It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution, but a bucket of ice and a box fan can make even the stuffiest, hottest room seem downright chilly. Mount the fan on top of the bucket of ice for a DIY swamp cooler that uses minimal energy and won't break the bank.


Eat popsicles

It sounds simplistic, but eating a chilly ice pop can actually make a big difference in helping you cool off on a hot day. Plus you'll get the added bonus of being able to stick your head in the freezer for a few seconds while you find your favorite flavor.

Take a cool shower

When you're sweaty and feeling gross on a hot summer day, consider a quick cool shower. You'll feel more refreshed and running the shower for just a few minutes is much more eco-friendly than firing up the window unit.

Keep outdoor spaces shaded

If it's cool enough to spend time outdoors, there's no better time than the summer! Use umbrellas or retractable awnings to keep your patio or deck cool — and as a bonus, if the deck is connected to your home, keep the adjacent rooms a few degrees cooler.

Freeze your water bottles

Staying hydrated is a must in the summer, and there's nothing more refreshing than an icy cold drink of water. Instead of keeping your bottled water in the fridge, throw a few in the freezer — they'll help you cool off when they're frozen solid, and stay cooler than the average bottle in seriously hot temperatures.

Check your home for poorly insulated "hot spots"

If your cooling bills seem high in the summer — or your home just can't seem quite to get to a comfortable temperature — it might be time to check and see how well insulated it is. Check door frames, windows, and other gaps throughout the home that could be allowing the hot air to leak in and get them sealed promptly.

Head to a community pool

When all else fails, go for a dip. If you don't have a pool in your neighborhood, research municipal pools in your city or find a friend's house where you can take a swim during the hottest part of the day.

Don't use the oven

Instead of heating your kitchen up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or hotter!), skip the oven in favor of your slow cooker or microwave. Even small ovens like toaster ovens and air fryers can help you cook without making your kitchen ridiculously hot.

Make sure your air conditioner is running efficiently

If your home's air conditioner is old or too small, it might be wasting energy. Ask a technician to come to your home to evaluate its cooling system and consider making adjustments that will both make your home more comfortable and help you save cash and wasted energy. If your A/C is in good shape, make sure you're regularly replacing the filter to make it more efficient. 

Spritz yourself with water

A small spray bottle full of water can provide serious relief on a hot summer day, especially if you store it in the refrigerator. For even more of a refreshing burst, add a drop of rosemary or peppermint oil. (Just make sure to avoid spraying it in your eyes.)

Store your sunscreen and body lotion in the fridge

Staying slathered in sunscreen is essential during the summer anyway, but it can also make you feel cooler every time you apply it when stored in the fridge. The same goes for skincare products, body lotion, and — of course — aloe vera gel for that inevitable sunburn.

Take advantage of air-conditioned public spaces

If it's too hot at home, head out to the library or a nearby shopping mall to spend a fun afternoon reading (or shopping!) while taking advantage of the free air conditioning.

Stay downstairs

Heat rises, which means that it's likely that pretty much any multi-story home is going to be hotter on the second floor than the first. Consider sleeping downstairs when it's super-hot, or at least hang out in the living room there during the hottest part of the day. (Courtesy: MSN News)

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