Arizona is home to the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, crazy desert wildlife, and very hot summers.
Anyone who lives in Arizona or has ever visited knows that the heat here is nothing to mess around with. When summer is stretching on, temperatures are topping 100 degrees, and you feel like you might melt if you don’t get cool, try out these tips to get you through!
Make sure your house is working for you.
#1 Lock it down!
We don’t need to mention that if you’re trying to beat the heat, its best to stay inside and out of the sun, right? But, if you’re going to be in your house, you need to make sure that it’s equipped to do all it can to keep you cool! Step one of not turning your home into a human sized oven is to keep all your windows and doors shut if the temperature outside tops seventy-seven degrees. Why seventy-seven degrees, you might ask? The average person starts to sweat at seventy-eight degrees, so you want to keep the hot air out, even if the air conditioner is off!
#2 Lights out!
We all know that there’s plenty of Arizona sun to illuminate any activity you could possibly be working on, so why turn on unnecessary lights? Keeping them off can make a big difference in keeping your home cool. If you’re willing to make the investment, change all of the standard incandescent bulbs in your home over to compact florescent ones. Not only do they last longer, but they also put out seventy percent less heat!
#3 Block it out!
Sure, the dazzling Arizona sun can put you in a great mood, but it can also cause the temperature in your home to skyrocket. Whether its morning sun or afternoon sun, keeping it out is your best bet. Making use of shades, drapes, and white or light colored curtains can make a huge difference in keeping your home cool. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that simply closing curtains or blinds can reduce the amount of heat entering your home by forty-five percent. Using a reflector between your windows and curtains like aluminum foil covered cardboard will reflect the heat back outside and away from your home. Outdoor awnings are a great option, too. They can reduce the heat entering your home by eighty percent!
#4 Do or (don’t) dry!
If your laundry absolutely can’t wait, at least skip running your clothes through the dryer. Hanging clothes outside is a great alternative to heating your whole house up as your clothes get tossed around in a hot metal machine. Instead, why not let them flap in the breeze — they’re actually likely to dry quicker, plus it will save you on your electric bill. One final perk? The fresh smell practically guarantees you a great nights sleep! Another appliance that can do a number on the overall temp of your place? The dishwasher! Wait until evening when the air is cooler to run the dishwasher, and let them air dry. Or, better yet, simply wash them by hand.
#5 Don’t lose your cool!
Your air conditioner works extra hard during those scorching summer months, and you’ll need to maintain it if you want it to function optimally. Filters in central or room air conditioners should be cleaned or replaced at least once a month during the summer. If the ducts on your central air conditioning system are leaking, the efficiency might go down by as much as fifteen percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Use weather stripping to ensure that all windows sills and doors are tightly sealed as well. Don’t forget to keep your fireplace damper closed, too, because flow reversal happens, which lets heat creep in. These steps will all make it so that your air conditioning has to work less hard to effectively and efficiently cool your home.
#6 Your biggest fan!
Fans can come in handy — if you know how to make them work for you. The most important thing that most people don’t know about fans is that they cool people, not rooms. If you’re hot, but it isn’t humid, put a bowl of ice in front of a fan and settle in for a breeze that will cool you down as the ice evaporates. If it is humid, make your air conditioner and fans work as a team. Running your air conditioner on low will lower the humidity, and staying in the breeze of a fan will keep you cool by moving the heat away from your body as the sweat evaporates. If it’s your house that’s too warm, use a fan in the window once the outside temperature drops below seventy-seven. If the fan is blowing into the room, the breeze might feel refreshing, but the real trick is to have the fan blowing out the window. That way, the warm air is pulled out of the house, and the cool air is pulled in. It’s the most effective way to use a fan if you’re trying to cool a space, as opposed to person.
Don’t let your body hold you hostage!
#7 Drink up!
Hydration is the name of the game when it’s hot. As a general rule, if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Your body temperature rises as you become dehydrated, so it’s absolutely critical that you replace the fluids that you’re losing through sweat. Not all liquids hydrate you, unfortunately. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar packed drinks can actually have the opposite effect. Water is your best bet for re-hydrating. Smoothies are a great option, and fruits and vegetables are helpful because they contain a lot of water. The ultimate hydrating fruit? Watermelon! It has the highest water content of any food, so don’t be afraid to chow down!
#8 Eat light!
It’s normal for your body to struggle to digest fatty foods, and when it’s hot outside, you can feel especially sluggish if you’re chowing down on big, unhealthy meals. A healthier meal choice, like a salad, won’t leave you feeling as weighed down and tired. No matter the meal, fruits and vegetables are a summer staple. Not only are they nutritious, but they’re watery, which makes a big difference in helping to keep you hydrated. Instead of using the oven, which will also heat up your home, consider using the stove top, or better yet, the grill! And surprisingly, eating something spicy can actually help cool you down. Capsaicin, which you’ll find in things like chili peppers, makes you sweat. When that sweat evaporates, you’ll briefly feel cooler.
#9 Get wet!
Spray bottles are another secret trick for staying cool. When you spritz yourself with water, it evaporates away from your skin and cools you down. Animals have understood this technique even longer than us! Think of elephants using their trunk to wet themselves behind the ears. You can make this idea work for you too! A great place to start is with your wrists, because there, you can cool down the blood flowing through your veins. This will quickly lower your overall body temperature.
#10 Take it easy!
Believe it or not, computers can put off a lot of heat. This isn’t going to help keep you cool, especially if you have a hot laptop, well, on your lap. If you have to work, invest in a bendable fan that you can plug into your USB drive. That way, a refreshing breeze can help keep you cool. When you’re able to, let your computers go into low power sleep mode, or shut them down completely. That way, you don’t have to worry about their heat output affecting your nice, cool home.
#11 Hang loose!
It’s easy to overlook the difference that the correct type of clothing can make in helping to regulate your temperature. When it’s 120 degrees out, wearing as few clothes as possible might seem like a good idea for keeping cool, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The most important thing is to wear synthetic fabrics that wick sweat and don’t leave you feeling wet and sticky. You might think that specialized fabrics like Coolmax and Nano-Tex are only for athletes, but that isn’t the case. They can keep you cool too! Cotton is a standard as well, just remember to go with light colors and a loose, flowy fit. Loose, billowy clothes are your best choice, because they allow for air movement and for the sweat to evaporate directly off of your skin and into the air. If you can, lose your shoes. In the open air, the sweat from your feet can evaporate, cooling you feet. The blood in your cool feet then continues to circulate through the rest of your body, helping to lower your temperature overall.
#12 Mind over matter!
Even if you can’t physically get away from the heat, you can mentally get away from it. Dive into any book or movie that mentally transports you to somewhere cold and snowy. It may seem like a stretch, but psychiatrists like Walter A. Brown, believe that it can make a real difference. He compares it to self hypnosis. If you put effort into envisioning a cold environment, you body starts to forget about it’s actual environment! Anything is worth a try during the sweltering Arizona summer, right?