A doctor suggests the changes to make in your wardrobe, lifestyle, and at home—no air conditioning required.

By Roxanna Coldiron
Updated August 17, 2020
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Summertime—after a long winter, we are all excited for the warm and sunny days of this season. The summer months mean getting out your summer playlist, going to barbecues and backyard parties, and relaxing at the beach. But, with summer, also comes the dangers of heat and humidity. It has a way of sneaking inside, even if you're cranking the air conditioning 24/7. But the truth is, keeping the A.C. on full blast all summer will leave you with hefty electric bills, and many modern homes are not equipped with energy-saving central air.

Luckily, there are many ways you can adjust your home design and lifestyle to keep the heat at bay.

Open the windows and doors.

It may sound counterintuitive, but go ahead: "Open your windows," suggests Dina Burstein, M.D., of the Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island and Hasbro Children's hospitals, "Use fans, and stay well-hydrated." She also suggests staying downstairs in your home where it tends to be cooler.

And if your home gets too hot even with your windows open and your fan running, go to a public place that has indoor cooling. Dr. Burstein suggests doing this especially during the hottest times of the day. Go to the local library or community center for some cool-down time. Not only will your kids love the field trip, you can also get in some exploratory learning and reading while staying out of the heat. Keep the doors throughout your house wide open during the day to let air permeate the entire space. Closed doors just trap hot air and make the rooms of your home feel much hotter.

But close the blinds.

If you can't provide exterior shading, use blinds, roller shades, or tightly-woven draperies to keep sun from heating up rooms and interior surfaces that can continue to radiate heat for hours. Multilayered window treatments insulate better than single-layered ones.

Stay hydrated.

As always, drink water frequently. For days when you spend time outdoors for a lengthy amount of time, Dr. Burstein suggests bringing plenty of water (or taking advantage of any water fountains nearby). "You may want to take your activity down a notch if it's really hot," she says. "And make sure to take frequent breaks and re-hydrate." On days that are very hot and humid, she recommends that you limit how strenuous your activities are in the outdoors. It's also a good idea to wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.

Readjust your fans.

The old tried and true method is to simply point a fan directly at yourself and let the air do its thing, but there are ways to use fans that will actually dispel hot air. Place box fans in windows so they push hot air outside, and adjust ceiling fans so the blades run counter-clockwise, pulling hot air up and out rather than pushing it around the room.

Opt for cotton or linen sheets.

There's a reason cotton and linen clothing is so popular in the summertime; both fabrics breathe easily, and promote ventilation and airflow. Pack away your satins, flannels, and silks for the season and go for a lightweight, light-colored cotton-linen blend sheet. Trade in your down pillows for buckwheat-hull pillows. This multifunctional grain can help keep you cool on scorching-hot nights because it doesn't absorb heat.

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