4 Sustainable Ways to Beat the Heat
As we begin August right after record heat waves in both June and July, it looks like we’re in for another month of hotter than normal summer sun. And with global temperatures still on the rise, it looks like this is unfortunately going to be the new normal. But a catch 22 is that air conditioning units tend to be terrible for the environment, creating a feedback loop of rising temps and more global-warming-causing AC. So what are some ways you can help stay cool during the summer while still being sustainable? Here are four ideas that may help.
Use your Windows Effectively.
First thing is first, use your window smartly to help cool down the house. Use curtains on any fixed windows in the house because there’s of course no reason to make your living room into a greenhouse. You want to open operable windows, and the tricks are that you want to open the windows on opposite sides of the house, open them an even amount, and make sure to open both high and low windows. Opening across the house means you’ll help catch a breeze, opening them even means that the air has effective movement, and because hot air rises, you want to make sure to open some low windows to catch the colder air and some high windows to give the hot air an escape. This is called the stack effect and was the primary way to cool a house down before the invention of air conditioning. One last thing about getting the air to flow correctly is to make sure your ceiling fan is set correctly. For hot weather your fan should run counter-clockwise on a higher speed. Running clockwise is actually a setting to warm your house up in the winter!
Use Your Appliances and Electronics Less
Your home appliances are a huge source of heat in the home, so using them less means that you’ll not be adding to the heat problem. The biggest problems are the drying appliances, such as dishwasher and, well, dryers, so air-drying your dishes and clothes will help immensely. Not using the oven is a no-brainer, but also keep in mind that you can and should unplug your appliances when your not using them. A charger or television is still going to be using electricity when plugged in even if it isn’t on, and that electricity adds heat to the house.
Drink Hot Drinks
Yes, you read that right, drinking hot drinks will help you stay cool, and that’s backed by science. To understand why, remember that humanity evolved in Sub-Saharan Africa. To beat the Savanna sun, humanity evolved a biological heat controlling superpower known as “sweating.” Believe it or not, sweating is one of the most efficient forms of heat control in the entire animal kingdom, and was one of the main reasons humanity rose to its dominant status. We have a large amount of temperature centers in the mouth, and so when we drink something hot it stimulates the body to sweat more, so as long as we have a slight breeze going from our effective window management, we’ll cool ourselves down well.
Get Your Plant On
Finally, in addition to providing oxygen, filtering the air of toxins, and improving your overall mood, having a decent amount of houseplants will help cool down your house too. Plants transpire, meaning they “breathe” out water. The effect is small enough that you won’t really see individual droplets on the plant but the constant release of little bits of water means that overall your house will be a bit more humid, making a hot room up to 10 degrees cooler. Remember too that water acts as a temperature regulator, so in the colder months houseplant will help warm the room too. You’ll need more than a few plants to really feel this effect but it is clearly worth it. And of course, speaking of plants, one of the absolute best plants for cooling down the house is of course a nice shady tree on the western side of your property.
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