We were enjoying a lovely spring here in Northern California and then in one week our weather went from 75 degrees to 110 degrees. As many of you know air conditioning is very expensive. Not only do you have to pay the power costs of running it but there is constant maintenance and once and a while the units go kaput. We have two units for our home and the one that cools the lower floor of our home has done just that. While the kids bask in the coolness of the upstairs air conditioner, my husband and I get to enjoy the little bit that trickles down and roast in the evening heat.
One night on our balcony, he looked to me and asked, "so Mrs. SHTF girl, what do we do when the stuff does hit the fan and we have no air conditioning?" I was feeling a little stumped but my brain immediately started thinking about what our ancestors would have done. I needed to do more research before I could give him some solid answers.
Thinking about cooling without power got me thinking about things we already do to stay cool. This year we got an outdoor pool. It was just a cheap little structure, easy to put up, but it made a huge difference. It wouldn't be too clean without the power running the filter but it would be wet. We also have many covered decks that help to obstruct the direct sun from the windows. We invested in an insect netting to protect our balcony that enters our master bedroom so we could help cool our room by utilizing the nighttime air. This way we can leave the doors open in the evening to help with the cooling. Air flow is key. Our log cabin was not built with air flow in mind so we have fans pumping the air all around in the house but again without power we would be back to hand held fans. Another trick my husband does to stay cool is he wets a towel and drapes it over himself. Hydration is key in the summer and I always make sure we have plenty of fruit and especially melon. It is packed with hydrating liquid that is yummy to eat and essential for the body.
Knowing what we do to stay cool, I started wondering what do other people suggest? I visited a site called greatist.com and found some solutions for night time heat. They suggest using lightweight cotton sheets. We always trade up the flannel for the light cotton in the summer and it is a big help. Using a damp towel or sheet as a blanket is another solution for night time heat but they warned that you may want to have another towel to help absorb the moisture so your mattress does not get wet. Going nude or wearing loose fitting cotton jammies was another possible solution. I know some husbands who will think this is a great idea but hold on one second guys. Another tip was to sleep alone or in a big bed with ample space to spread out. The cuddling will have to wait for cooler weather. They also suggest drinking water before bed to make sure you are properly hydrated. Cooling off in water or at least putting your feet in it was another suggestion. Get low, heat rises so the lower the better. Hang wet sheets in open windows. This is a great grid down suggestion. Do not cook indoors or consider sleeping outside all together. Finally a straw or bamboo mat for sleeping was suggested because sometime our mattresses do very little to help cool us in the summer.
Happypreppers.com also had some notable suggestions in one of their articles. You can DIY a swamp cooler. Yes, it will take power but it's still fun to craft your own projects. They have some tips on how to do that at their site. Using blackout curtains was another good tip. Utilizing outdoor awnings or planting shade trees is a great idea. Out here in California it is hard to plant shade trees because of the wild fire risk but still a good idea. Utilizing dampened bandanas, wrist wraps or having your own wet t-shirt contest was another suggestion (here comes the cheering from the guys again). Use a mister to dampen yourself and make sure you are drinking lots of liquids.
Now that I had all of these solutions to the problem, I was still wondering how our ancestors used to stay cool. Aristair.com has some fun info on how our ancient ancestors used to beat the heat. The cave dwellers were the first to utilize geothermal technology. They lived in caves and dug burrows that would protect them from the heat of the summer. Egyptians used to hand wet reeds in front of their windows to cool their homes. The Chinese created the fan. The Victorians needed some powerful cooling technology for all that get up they used to wear. They build buildings with high ceilings, covered porches, and large recessed windows for cross ventilation. Who would have thought, that same vaulted ceiling that I curse all winter for losing heat is helping to keep me cool in the summer.
In the more recent past, Blog.myheritage.com describes, some clever tips were employed. Building community structures in hot areas on hill tops and elevated areas was one way they took advantage of the natural air flow. These structures, and houses in general, were built with breezes in mind. Windows on one side were always accompanied by windows on the other to allow for air flow. Going to bed, damp after bathing was a norm as was sleeping in sheet that had been soaked in ice water. The attic fan was developed and people used to take to the balconies to escape hot homes.
Staying cool in extreme heat is just as important as staying warm in extreme cold. With all these tips on how to beat the heat, hopefully that won't be as miserable of an experience. Comment below with all the great tips you have on how you beat the heat. Trust me...we need them.