Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

10 Ways to Deal with (Not Beat) the Heat

Most residents of the northern hemisphere need no reminding that it’s summer. Across the globe, temperatures are high and show no signs of abating.

A big part of editing our lives is learning to live happily within our financial and environmental means. But sometimes heat can make us do things that compromise both of those objectives: Blasting the A/C 24/7, buying countless plastic bottles of water and expensive, heat-trapping skinny denim jeans.

Here are ten suggestions for getting comfortable in the heat without increasing your carbon footprint and buying additional equipment (unless you don’t have a fan):

  1. Surrender to the heat. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are real things, but often what’s most uncomfortable is our psychological reaction to heat. We think we should live in a 72 degree, climate-controlled world. Any deviation from that temperature is problematic. It’s summer. It’s supposed to be hot. Nothing’s wrong. Often surrendering to the heat, not beating it, is the path to finding comfort in elevated temps.
  2. Be a fan. Before you crank up the A/C, try a fan. They’re effective in keeping you cool and consume far less power than an A/C. If you have multiple people to cool, buy multiple fans. Ceiling fans are great too, though some assembly is required.
  3. Dress the part. We realize some people have professional sartorial obligations, but for those of us who don’t, or for those of us who do, but do not spend our every waking hour at work, there are shorts, sundresses, tank tops and a host of other seasonally-appropriate garments. Strategies differ: Some prefer taking it all off, others covering it all with lightweight material. Either way, the notion that we should be wearing the same pair of heavy denim jeans in July that we wear in December needs to be eradicated.
  4. Learn to sleep without blankets and/or clothes. Many of us find sleeping in the heat difficult. And while the weight of a down blanket coupled with breathing in icy air might be our preferred sleeping condition, it is possible to sleep in the heat without any type of covering whatsoever. For some of us it takes training, but it can be done. If zero covering is too extreme, try using only a top sheet and your undies. Gradually remove layers until you’re comfortable with nothing–it helps a lot.
  5. Take the edge off. Many will read all of this and still choose to run the A/C–a logical move if our interior temps approach triple digits. Rather than creating a winter wonderland in our homes, set the A/C to the highest possible temperature we can stand (usually between 77-80 degrees). It’ll save money, create fewer greenhouse gasses and create less of a jolt when you enter the oven of the outside world.
  6. Check the clock. Stay out of the sun and heat during the middle of the day when it’s hottest. There’s a reason most hot-summered countries include a siesta in their days. If you exercise outside, try waking up around dawn when temps are coolest.
  7. Get outside. Excepting the influence of A/C, it’s generally going to be cooler outside. But don’t just go anywhere outside. Shade is always preferred to being in direct sunlight. The best spots to hang are around heat absorbing trees, grass fields and large bodies of cool water, which act as nature’s air conditioners.
  8. Drink up. The Institute of Medicine recommends men drink 3 liters of fluid a day and women 2.2–12 and 9 cups respectively. This is without accounting for high temperatures, individual physiology, etc. Err on the side of hydration and always pack a big water bottle or bladder-style hydration system; in other words, don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere without water. It doesn’t need to be cold to hydrate either–your body warms or cools everything to 98 degrees anyway. Oh, and water rich foods–most fruits and veggies–help you with the water intake.
  9. Come to terms with sweat. Somewhere along the line, sweating got a bad name. We suppose it can be smelly and drench our clothes. But few things are as natural as sweating. Conversely, few things are as unnatural as avoiding it–acres of air conditioned spaces, pore-clogging antiperspirants. As Mat McDermott put it in Treehugger, “For the sake our ourselves, our society and our planet we need to seriously get past worrying about sweating in public” (Treehugger has a whole series devoted to keeping cool). If you must (and you probably should) carry a towel and possibly some deodorant (not antiperspirant) for more polite society.
  10. Adjust your pace of life. We know this is easier said than done for most, but summer is a good time to be a bit more languorous. Take it easy when it gets super hot. Nothing ensures a wonderful summer like low expectations.

Dog cools down image via Shutterstock