Turns out there are simpler methods than air-conditioning to keep a room or house cool and save you a ton of money.
That’s handy, given that depending on your temperature preference and frugality, running an A/C unit can cost anywhere from $14 to $211 per month.
In Italy, ground floor units don’t even have A/C, as all the buildings are made of block-and-concrete, and the windows all have wood-slat shutters to let the breeze in and keep the sun out.
If installing brown wood-slat shutters isn’t an option, try with pieces of brown cardboard; cutting small mail slots out to shed light into the room, or change to darker curtains.
Beyond that, here are some innovative, and sometimes ancient ways to keep cool and save money.
Ever heard the story about how kitchens, hotels, and even towns would have giant blocks of ice brought in on train cars for refrigeration purposes before electricity existed? That still works today, and it’s cheaper than A/C.
If you live in a 1-bed, 1-bath or studio apartment, try soaking a couple of towels, coiling them into C-shapes, and freezing them. Once they’re frozen solid, place them on your head like a crown, around your neck like an airplane pillow, or around the femoral arteries in your thighs. This will cool you right down.
Alternatively, you can freeze water into a large block by putting a bowl or plastic bottle of it in the freezer, (which will also save you money by keeping the freezer cooler and reducing the time it needs to re-freeze) and place it on a table in front of a fan. The air blown by the fan will be chilled as it runs across the ice.
If you leave your windows open for the breeze in the summertime, soak your curtains in water. The breeze will evaporate the water, cooling it to a lovely temperature, before blowing it around your house.
Sleeping under a damp bed sheet with a fan over you will work as well as any A/C unit: As the water soaks into your skin and then evaporates, it will supercool you. A damp t-shirt would act similarly.
Change your meals.
As strange as it sounds, there is a reason why spicy food all comes from hot places. No one’s cooking vindaloo curry in Latvia or Harbin, and that’s because the capsaicin chemical within spicy foods is an irritant that causes us to sweat. Sweat in a frigid Arctic wind will kill you, but in warmer climes it will cool you down.
Hot beverages are also great for this, particularly hot mint tea, as the mint will feel cool and refreshing, while the heat from the tea will cause you to sweat. Drink in front of a fan for maximum benefit (though note that if you’re in a humid area, this hack won’t work so well as the sweat can’t wick properly from your body).
Finally, salty and or rich foods are proven to make the core body temperature rise. To combat this, eat smaller meals more often, ditch salt and hot protein (a cold cut sandwich isn’t bad) for fruits and vegetables, and leave that oven and stove off to reduce the heat radiation into your house (saving you more money while you’re at it).
Honorable mention goes to whoever got the idea to leave one’s moisturizers in the fridge. Imagine needing to rehydrate your skin, and it being nearly freezing cold at the same time!
Some ceiling fans are able to switch the direction they turn. In the winter, clockwise is better, but during the summer, counter-clockwise is where it’s at, pushing the hot air around the level of our head and shoulders down towards the floor and circulating the cold air—which naturally sinks—up towards the ceiling.
Cold shower anyone?