Summer heat waves can hit hard, especially near Lake Ontario where high humidity amplifies temperatures. Staying cool means blasting air conditioning, but there are other steps you can take to beat the heat – and keep your energy bills lower – that will leave you cool as a cucumber.
Help your home avoid becoming a greenhouse by using thermal blinds to keep sun from warming the inside of your home. Such drapes will typically feature a plastic sort of backing that reflects solar radiation back out into the world, keeping you cool. If you’ve got venetian blinds, consider tilting them so the inside edge is up, preventing light from sneaking through the slats.
Keeping the inside of your house cool is great. Keeping your own insides cool works wonders too. Now’s the time for cooling drinks of ice water. Other drinks can be loaded with sugar or even dehydrate you, so be mindful of what you grab from the fridge. For a little flavour, brew tea in a jar, add some lemon juice, cap it and put in the fridge for some easy, sugar-free iced tea. Of course there’s nothing wrong with some occasional ice cream or freezies.
Pets can be especially sensitive to the heat. While reptiles will bask in the sun for days, dogs and cats don’t cool off by sweating, so keeping extra water out for your pets is a great way to help them stay cool.
As temperatures spike, so too does energy use which can lead to brownouts or blackouts. What can you do if your AC isn’t working? First off, minimize power use. Unplug items you aren’t actually using. Many devices will draw small amounts of power even when off, so by unplugging them or having them on a switchable power bar allows you to minimize power use – a great year-round practice. By lightening the load on the power grid, it’s easier for crews to get things back up and running sooner.
If outdoor temperatures dip below what you’re feeling inside – lately we’ve been fortunate to have cooler night time temperatures – open up windows to get fresh and cooler air inside your home. Use bathroom and kitchen vent fans to draw heat out from the ceilings and cooler air in from outside.
If that’s not an option, cool showers or a cloth soaked in cold water can really help you relax and beat the heat. Stay on lower floors in your home if you have the option. Basements will stay cooler as heat rises up to the top floor. Daytime trips to public pools and splash pads are a great way to keep kids cool while letting them get their energy out.
Now is also the time to get outside and grill. Standing in the heat in front of the BBQ may not be appealing, but it’s better than warming your kitchen by using the stove or oven. Salads, wraps, cold cereal are also great meal options to enjoy when it’s too hot to cook.
Of course, there are other more fundamental ways to help keep cool in the heat. Improving the insulation in your home, tuning up your air conditioner, and getting ducts clean can all help your cooling work at its best.
Enjoy the heat on your terms this summer, and make the most of what the season has to offer.