Keep your cool

Fan Bike

Look, it's a fan mounted on the back of a bike! But I don't recommend riding this around your house to stay cool. Photo:

With summer just around the corner many of us are getting those transitional days when the temperature spikes, leaving us wondering, “When did it get so hot?” If last summer is any indication, hot weather may hit us all pretty hard this year.

For most of my adult life I’ve lived in places without air conditioning. You know, old apartment buildings, walk ups, dorm rooms. This helped keep my carbon footprint down without much effort on my part. BUt it wasn’t easy to endure the hot weather.

Now that I do have central air in my “grown up” house, I have to fight the temptation to use it at the slightest hint of heat.

Adaptation is an asset

I’ve got a few of tricks for handling the warmer weather months that can keep you cool and help you do your part for energy conservation. In this global weirding weather environment it’s advisable to also do your part to lower your green house emissions. On that front using as little air conditioning as possible, if not none at all, is advisable.

But if you aren’t willing to go there yet, try these few tips:

  • Install thermal insulated “blackout” curtains. Keep them closed during all sunlight hours, particularly on southern exposures. Depressing? Perhaps, but it’s low-tech, energy saving even if the AC is on, cost saving for you, and a great way to keep cool. You can always go outside for light. And if you’re at work all day anyway, well, duh…
  • Use fans. Strategically placed fans can mitigate a great deal of heat. Window fans that suck inside air out can help move stagnant air out, while table, ceiling and standing fans can help create your own little Gulf stream from room to room.
  • Open windows after dark to let night air in. Turn window fans around at night to draw cool air in.
  • Drink plenty of water. If you sweat you’ll feel hot. Stay hydrated and you’ll feel cooler. And no bottled water, please.
  • If you have the money, install awnings on your windows. There was a reason these were on pre-air conditioned houses. Choose ones that can be taken off in the winter, especially on southern facing windows (you’ll want the passive solar heat in the winter.)
  • Cool is a state of mind. Try yogic breathing and releasing attachment to the sensation of discomfort. Esoteric, huh?

It’s cool to be uncool

Throughout most of human history people lived just fine without air conditioning. Now we have it cranked up across the globe all day every day in warmer climes. It’s my belief—and the finding of 99% of climate scientists—that this is a major contributor to green house gas emissions and the crazy climate chaos that ensues. Is this really worth it?

Sure, you might occasionally be a little more uncomfortable without the AC on all the time. But that’s better than being always uncomfortable in a future world destroyed by our prior need for every comfort. With just a little effort you can find a way to use less and be perfectly okay. If it saves you money, too, more better.

–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List

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About Lindsay Curren

Lindsay Curren has no intention of ending up the Scarlett O'Hara of the 21st century, dizzy and confused as neo-Rome burns. Instead, the Staunton, Virginia based writer, designer and high-heeled survivalist writes Lindsay's List, the women's conservation blog and edits Transition Voice, the online magazine on peak oil and the coming life of sweaty labor and, hopefully, nicer manners.


  1. Great post, Lindsay. One trick we’ve used in our house is to inch up the numbers on the thermostat programming a degree or two each year. As with most things to do with conservation, we figure out our limits and then push them in small but measurable ways.

    • Thanks Karen! I think the idea of “inching” forward with however much you can take in adjustments is an excellent one—care to write a guest post on Lindsay’s List? ;) Only 300 words.

  2. Warmth or coolness comes in how we manage our extremities. In the winter we can stay warmer by wearing a hat. In summer we can stay cooler by having short hair cuts, getting our hair wet, and going bare foot. Non-carpeted surfaces can draw heat away from our feet keeping our whole bodies cooler. Slip-on sandals allow flexibility to easily take off shoes when conditions are appropriate or needed.

    I would advise deciduous trees over awnings. The air around/under trees is cooler than under awnings because of the way trees absorb energy. So not only would trees block sun from coming in, they also cool the air around your house.

    • Those are all great tips, Maria. I just might have to do a part-two post to this incorporating your ideas. Thanks for posting in.

      I’m going barefoot right now, but I lament that the one room in our house without natural flooring is our office, which has carpeting that I despise. I do have a dhurrie over top of the carpet, so at least my feet touch natural fibers.

      As to trees, another great idea, and a help for global warming. If folks have the space and ability to plant them, that is definitely the way to go.



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