There’s no getting around the fact that you need an air conditioner to survive the brutal summer heat in Las Vegas, Nevada (or California’s Central Valley). But what happens when your AC gives out and you’re stuck without cold air until it’s repaired? This will be an uncomfortable situation for a while, but there are a few clever tricks you can employ to help stay cool during the summer. Here are 10 things you can do to keep you cool this summer.
1. Use Portable And Ceiling Fans
Portable fans and ceiling fans are a great stand-in when your home’s air conditioner acts up. Portable fans don’t cool the air like an air conditioner does. Instead, they work by creating a breeze and the wind-chill effect from that breeze hits your skin and creates a cooling effect.
For an extra blast of coolness, place a bowl of ice in front of the fan. This simple trick creates a refreshing mist of air. Another useful tip is to place a box fan across from an open window. This is an easy way to create a cross-breeze that can lower the temperature of a room drastically.
Portable and ceiling fans are also useful to run concurrently with your central air conditioner. Because portable fans circulate air around a room, they can help ease the burden on the air conditioner as you can run the AC for shorter periods, helping to save on energy costs. If it’s a mild day with bearable heat, turn the AC off completely and use only the fans to cut your energy bill even further.
2. Use Ice Packs And Take Cold Showers
It’s never wise to ignore signs that your air conditioner needs repairs, especially before the start of summer. Always schedule a seasonal check-up and regular maintenance. If, however, the AC does break down, it’s time to go back to basics. To beat the heat, hop into a cold shower. Not only will this lower your body’s core temperature but an ice-cold shower invigorates the skin and improves blood circulation.
Next, stock up on ice! Good ole ice will become your best friend when temperatures are sweltering and you’re desperate to keep cool during the summer. Drink lots of ice water to stay hydrated and prevent heat-related illness. Place ice packs on pulse areas like your wrists, neck, groin, and temples to stay cool. You can also buy a body-fitting ice vest. Ice body cooling vests are popular among athletes to keep their body temperature stable and prevent dehydration.
3. Avoid Cooking On The Stove
Cooking indoors is a great way to warm up a cold house in winter, but it’s something you’ll want to avoid during the summer months. Using the oven and stove to cook adds extra heat and humidity to a house. Not only is the extra heat uncomfortable but excess humidity can cause moisture buildup and condensation in the home. This excess moisture can lead to a variety of problems including a buildup of hazardous bacterial growth that can result in illnesses and allergies.
Swap hearty soups and stews for light meals, salad, fruits, cold meats, and sandwiches during summer. Rather than turn on the oven to cook a meal, fire up the BBQ instead to grill your meat and veggies. Summer is, after all, the perfect time to invite friends and family over for a BBQ. It’s a great way to pass summer weekends and you won’t walk into a house that feels like a sauna nor will you have a sink full of dishes to wash!
4. Keep The Curtains Drawn
Even when your air conditioner is running, a smart way to keep your house cool and save energy is to draw the curtains and blinds during the day. Sunlight streaming in through windows increases the internal temperature of the house. Even furniture and walls absorb the heat. That means your air conditioner has to work harder to cool the home.
Make it a habit to draw the curtains or close blinds and window shutters before you leave for work. This prevents heat from entering the home during the hottest hours of the day. Blackout curtains are best at blocking sun and heat. You’ll come home to a much cooler house, and a cooler house means you can bump up your HVAC thermostat a few degrees which, in turn, will lower your electric bill.
5. Use Light Bedding
Getting a good night’s sleep is difficult when you’re hot and sweaty. If the AC isn’t working, you’ll be tossing and turning all night trying to get comfortable. To get a good night’s sleep when the AC isn’t working, use light cotton sheets that are breathable. On a hot night, you can forego a comforter altogether as a sheet is probably all you’ll need. Keep a light blanket nearby in case you do feel a little cold in the night and want to cover up.
The ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people adjust the AC thermostat higher at night to cut energy usage. However, don’t turn it up too high as this will make it harder to fall asleep. Consider investing in a programmable thermostat that will allow you to preset the ideal nighttime temperature and automatically revert back to your daytime temperature in the morning.
6. Wet Your Curtains
One unusual way to cool a room’s air is to spritz your curtains with water or hang a wet sheet in the window. Keep the window open to allow fresh air to flow over the damp curtain or sheet. This works best on a breezy day. The breeze passing over the damp curtains or sheet will cause water to evaporate, helping to cool the air in the room. It’s one of the simplest ways to add a dash of refreshing cool air to a room and keep cool during summer.
7. Hang Out Downstairs
A common concept in physics is that heat rises. This means that warm air naturally gravitates to a higher area. If you live in a two-story house, you’ve probably noticed that the upstairs area is always warmer than lower level. If the AC is broken, then hang out downstairs. The air will be cooler downstairs compared to upstairs. Kids may actually find it fun to set up tents and mattresses and camp out in the living room. If temperatures are unbearable, you might want to dive further down into the basement which is the coolest part of a house.
If you only have one thermostat regulating a two-story house, you probably face endless family squabbles due to the uneven temperature distribution throughout the house. If the thermostat is located downstairs, it will pick up on the temperature near the unit and adjust to a suitable temperature for the downstairs area. The upper level, however, will not experience the same amount of cooling, leading to unhappy campers upstairs. For multi-story homes, separate thermostats for upstairs and downstairs or a zoned system like ductless split-system are the best ways to maintain an even temperature and keep the whole family happy.
8. Eat Spicy Foods
Eating spicy foods on a hot day sounds counterproductive but there is a method to the madness. Have you ever wondered why people in some of the hottest places on earth eat spicy food? Mexico, India, and Morocco are all countries with hot climates and they all have one thing in common — spicy foods. Eating spicy food may send an initial flush of heat through your body but this heat makes the skin sweat. Once air makes contact with sweat on your skin, it starts to cool down the body’s temperature.
9. Plant Trees Or Add Awnings
Trees take a long time to grow but in the long-run, they provide excellent natural shade and add beauty to a garden. A big leafy tree near the house can shave a few degrees off your home’s internal temperature. If you don’t have the patience to wait for a tree to grow, then installing awnings over the doors and window is a quick way to add some shade. Awnings not only provide shade on sunny days but also make a great shelter from the rain. For extra protection from the Las Vegas heat, consider adding a heat reflective film to windows.
10. Improve Your Home’s Insulation
Most people think of insulation in terms of heating. Insulation doesn’t only maintain warmth but also prevents cold air from escaping a house in summer. It’s important to seal drafty windows and door frames to stop air from seeping out. Simple features like shutters on windows is another way to add some extra insulation.
It’s a good idea to contact an HVAC professional to do an inspection of your home to identify air leaks and drafts around windows and doors. If your home’s insulation is poor, improving the insulation is a worthwhile investment. Injection foam insulation is one of the most effective types of insulation. It’s a process that involves injecting a liquid foam into a house’s framework, dry walls, and attic. The foam fills the space and immediately hardens creating an airtight seal that will keep your home warm during winter and cool and comfortable in summer.
Exercise Caution During Extreme Heat
Extreme heat is no joke. It can lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and even death. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. If you or anyone you are with shows signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion, seek medical assistance immediately. Stay hydrated and, if you are outdoors, avoid direct sunlight and take cover under shady areas and trees. If your home’s air conditioner isn’t working, head to other buildings that have air conditioning. You can use the time to visit libraries’ shopping malls, bookstores, museums, movies, or indoor recreational areas while your air conditioner undergoes repairs.