Summer is here and, at least where I live, it came in with a flourish and a bang. No lazy Spring days for us, with their cool, breeze-kissed mornings and balmy afternoons. Here we go direct from snow to sweat, without passing go and certainly without collecting â‚¬200.
Looking for ways to survive the canicule*? We are lucky enough to live in an old stone house, with foot thick walls, but at times even that is not enough. Here is how we manage to stay as cool as possible- frugally.
Play with air
Create a cross breeze or, as the French call it, a courant d’air. Open windows on the opposite sides of the room or the building. I like to dry laundry just outside the windows; the air cools as it blows through the wet laundry and enters the house. If you don’t want to dry laundry the old-fashioned (and time consuming) way, you might consider hanging a wet towel or sheet in front of an open window. I’m not sure how this would work in climates with high humidity (something tells me not very well) but in our relatively dry heat it works wonders.
Keep it dark
Is one side of your house more exposed to the morning sun? Lower the shutters, close the blinds, do whatever necessary to keep the sun out. Later you can open that side of the house and shutter the other. At night open all the windows wide to let in the cool night air. We have no screens on our windows, instead we have thick wooden shutters. By closing these to various degrees we can control the amount of light coming in. At night we close the shutters completely and then safely leave the windows open.
Turn it off
Electric appliances and machines give off a great deal of heat. Turning off the TV and (god forbid) the computer can drop a room’s temperature by several degrees. Don’t just turn them off, unplug them at the source. When certain appliances are plugged in they stay in sleep mode, burning watts and producing heat. Unplugging them helps tremendously. Try as I might though, while I manage to unplug the TV I just can’t quite cut my connection to the internet quite so drastically.
Watch your food and drink
Try not to use the oven or stand over the stove frying things. Eat fresh, cool foods. Today at lunch we ate a lentil tomato salad, fresh cool cantelope, sliced ham and cheese. No cooking involved. Drink lots of water which, while it might not help you feel cooler, will certainly help you feel less cranky about the heat.
Not you, although that’s certainly your choice, but your house. Take away heavy cushions on the couch or thick rugs on the floor. My tile floors can be chilly in winter but they certainly feel good against my bare feet in the summer. Sprawling on the couch is made more comfortable by the absence of heat trapping pillows. I also let my kids run around in minimal clothing; the younger they are, the fewer clothes they wear!
*Heat wave, or dog days of summer.
How do you stay cool frugally? Any tips?