In the dead of a sweltering heatwave, AC feels like the ultimate godsend. But leaving the AC on all day and everyday is a sure-fire way to suck up lots of energy. The US especially uses lots of AC: the devices account for about 20% of all US electricity.
If you’re looking for more eco-friendly ways to stay cool, we’ve scrounged up the following tips!
Wear the Right Clothing
Check your clothing tags: are your favorite garments just making your sweatier? Synthetic fibers such as polyester, rayon, and viscose are all water repellent: a.k.a. they don’t absorb moisture. If your body overheats while wearing these fibers, it means all that sweat just sits there, getting you soaked! Stick with fibers like linen, cotton, and even thin merino wool: these will absorb the sweat and help it evaporate. Go with pieces that have loose fits: this will allow air to circulate over your skin.
Know Your Body’s Pulse Points
The body’s pulse points are areas of the body where the blood stream runs close to the skin. Applying cool (not freezing!) compresses to these areas can help lower your internal temperature. Your wrists, temples, inner thighs, the insides of your elbows, your neck, and the tops of your feet are all pulse points. If you’re exercising, tie a wet bandana around your neck or temples. Or, after a long day’s work, soak your feet in a cool foot bath.
Alter Your Diet
Chili, curries, and hot peppers? Bring them on! Spicy food triggers the body’s natural cooling systems. While it seems counterintuitive to eat hot foods when the temperature is warm, you’ll feel better in the long run as the sweating from the spicy foods helps cool your body down. Similarly, avoid fatty foods and protein heavy meals: they kick up your metabolic rate, which causes your body to produce more heat. Stick with veggies and lean meats like fish. Finally, go with smaller portions; the more food you eat, the more energy (heat!) your body needs to digest.
Get Some Greenery
Houseplants already offer lots of environmental benefits: they increase air circulation and produce oxygen. But certain species of plants- fern, aloe vera, and ficus- lose water from a process called transpiration. When the plants release the moisture into a warm room, it actually cools the surrounding air. Consider making your home an indoor forest! Similarly, installing or planting trees outside and around the house will serve a similar function; they’ll shade your home while absorbing hot sunlight as they grow.
Seal Your Home and Keep Out Sunlight
Close the windows and draw the shades. While open windows are lovely when there’s a great breeze, keeping them open throughout the day actually lets hot air in. Drawing the shades also helps, since all that burning sunlight is kept out of your home. Do both in the morning when it’s still cool outside. If you like, you can open them up at night when the outdoor temperature is cooler and the sun isn’t baking away!
Switch off Gadgets and Unplug
You might not think that keeping on your computer or having your charger plugged in makes that much of a difference. But electricity generates heat and that heat adds up! Turning off devices and unplugging can reduce the air temperature up to one degree (hey, every little bit counts). If you’re not using them, then keep them unplugged.
Mankind has been trying to keep cool since before AC! You don’t have to left out in the cold…er heat..when you’re trying to cut back on energy use during warm spells.