I’m afraid this might be a little too little too late for some of you. But for those of you still sweating it out in New York City (or elsewhere), here’s what the past few months have taught me about living through another summer without air conditioning.
The specifics of your home will mean that different tricks might be available to you. If you have a wall of southern-facing windows, by all means, make it a priority to cover them up during the day to keep out the sun. If you have windows on opposite walls, open them up and activate that cross-breeze.
But if you’re still stifling, here are my favorite fixes (and a few that I’ve tried and ruled out.) You’d think I would have enough experience in this department by now, but the truth is that each new year requires a bit of flexing the old muscle memory and learning new tricks.
HERE’S WHAT WORKS:
Not cooking. Step away from the stove. There will be cooler nights aplenty to make that plum cake. The peach cobbler can be put off by a week or two. Another tomato salad won’t kill you. And it will definitely keep you cooler than anything that requires a burner.
Sleeping with an ice pack. Weirdos unite! We have a huge black ice pack that I sleep with spread out underneath my calves. Occasionally I let James share. (This is the one we have.)
Soaking your feet in a bucket of cool water. After Faye’s asleep hogging (just kidding) one of our fans all to herself, James and I beat the heat by indulging in a couple’s foot soak. It’s hilariously kooky, but so refreshing and effective! (We use a basin like this one.)
Positioning yourself directly in front of the fan. Fans are mostly only as good as the air they blow on you, so get up close and personal. We bought two small fans at a local hardware store that we reposition in every imaginable spot in the apartment to help us cool down.
Propping open the apartment door. James has taken to propping our door in an attempt to kick start a cross-breeze. It’s kind of incredible how quickly it gets the air flowing. (And it makes us seriously long for windows on the back of the apartment.)
Making your bed with cool, crisp cotton sheets. Our mattress sleeps incredibly hot. Until we replace it (I’m currently tempted by one of these guys), we’re combatting the heat with cool cotton sheets (and frequent changes.) Maybe it’s psychological, but I sleep so much better on fresh sheets. Dropping little bits lavender oil won’t make your sheets cooler, but they will keep a stifling bedroom smelling fresh, which is practically as good. (We especially like this set of sheets.)
Drinking cool water. I’m addicted to my insulated water bottle, but cold water in any kind of vessel will do. The more I drink, the less grumpy I am.
HERE’S WHAT DOESN’T WORK:
Leaving the ceiling fan turned on in the room where you’re not. See my note about fans above. If it’s not pointed at you, it’s not making you cooler.
Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan. I’ve tried this trick so many times and I’ve never, ever noticed a discernible difference in tolerability. Save the ice for your water, I say.
Putting your pillow case in the freezer. The benefits of this trick are so extremely short-lived that I can’t justify them. Plus, you risk freezer funk.
Bellowing about how you might soon asphyxiate. Alas, alack.
Still hot? Popsicles to the rescue.