After a day of baking in the sun, the first thing you want to do is run into the comfort of an air-conditioned place. But you don’t need to crank the AC down to 60 to get relief. You can keep cool during a heat wave without harming the environment. Here are some eco-friendly tips:
Eco-Friendly Appliance Use
- Outdoor grilling over oven or stovetop cooking.
- Ceiling and floor fans over nonstop air conditioning.
- Lights off as much as possible during daylight hours.
- Installing outdoor solar lighting
- Use appliances at night, not during the heat of the day.
- Use one appliance at a time versus multiple appliances simultaneously.
- Warm showers or baths versus hot or cold bathing.
Windows and Rising Heat
- Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day.
- Open windows at night for natural venting, if the outdoor temperature drops.
- Heat rises, so sleep on the lowest level of the house.
- Freeze water in plastic soda bottles and wrap in thin dish towels and use as footrests, or place in front of electric fans to cool air.
- Place sheets, pillowcases and pajamas in a plastic bag and freeze for a few minutes before making the bed and climbing in for the night.
- Loose-fitting, light-colored outfits vs. dark-colored and tight-fitting clothes.
- Damp washcloths on the forehead, neck, and joints help cool the skin.
Water and Hydration
- Drink water, not alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, to prevent dehydration. (Preferably not bottled water!)
- Some studies suggest eating less during a heat wave will help your body’s heat-regulating system.
- Shifting to cooler foods while maintaining healthy protein intake may help your body handle the heat.
Eco-Friendly Outdoor Tips
- Spray bottles with mist settings help cool skin through evaporation.
- Stay in the shade, even if you have to walk with an umbrella to shield yourself from direct sunshine.
- Wear sunscreen if you can’t avoid being in the sun because the last thing you need during a heat wave is a sunburn.
Protect Your Pets and Plants
- Limit or even hold off on dog walks and active playtime during heat waves.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car unattended during hot weather.
- Know the signs of an overheated dog.
- Mind local watering rules, but don’t neglect your lawn during a heatwave. Follow best practices, such as letting the grass grow a little taller to shade the soil and prevent excessive water evaporation. Water early in the morning to avoid evaporation as well.
Let Your Plants Protect You
One large shade can drastically reduce the temperature in your yard. Trees that shade your home can cut your air conditioning use by as much as 50 percent. Your lawn will also absorb some of the heat. The grass absorbs sunlight during the day and releases some of that heat at night. If we protect the earth, it will protect us!
If you’re going stir crazy, consider taking a walk in a nearby mall (and try to find underground parking to keep your car cooler while you’re there). Visiting a bowling alley or museum, or take in a movie in an air-conditioned theater. Places like public water parks, swimming pools, and beaches are bound to be crowded, but if you arrive early or late, you may avoid the bulk of the mob scene.
It’s important to know the common symptoms of heatstroke, and how to help yourself or someone else who gets overheated. Some studies show women may have more difficulty adapting to heat than men because of body composition. So women may want to take more precautions during a heat wave.
You can adapt to a prolonged heatwave by gradually increasing your exposure. Just make sure you have opportunities to cool off while increasing your time outdoors. If someone tells you they have to crank up the AC, tell them to go jump in the lake.