It is hotter than hell in here: not a cliché, just the truth. To be exact, it is 87.7 degrees at this desk—because the air conditioning is broken, not because the Long Island Press has a satellite office in Maui. Now, while we sit here debating whether crying will cool us off or just expend more energy, we leave you with a list of ideas and suggestions people others, some wiser, some not, have come up with to keep cool without air conditioning, either out of necessity or conservation. Some of these are scientifically proven, recommended by experts. Others are purely improvisational and may even make you feel like you’ve reached a low point in your existence. But, hey, desperate times…
1. ICE IN A KIDDIE POOL: Fill up your kiddie pool, bowl, etc. with ice cubes. Place it in front of the fan. You can improvise at your desk by putting ice cubes in a cup and blowing into it.
2. GO DOWNSTAIRS: Warm air rises as it is less dense than cooler air.
3. GET NAKED: No explanation necessary—just don’t do it in public.
4. CLOSE BLINDS: Close the shades, curtains, blinds, shutters, etc. to block the sun.
5. DON’T COOK: A 425 degree oven won’t do you any favors.
6. WATCH EVEREST: BEYOND THE LIMIT: Frostbitten limbs and the icy death zone may work if you’re the visualization type.
7. SHUT LIGHTS: Incandescent bulbs get hot. Go with LED, or keep them off.
8. DON’T MOVE: Save sports, exercise and any other movement you can spare for later, cooler hours.
9. SLICE A CUCUMBER: Rub it on your forehead for a cooling sensation.
10. WHEELBARROW POOL: Fill a sturdy wheelbarrow with water and sit in it.
11. EAT SPICY FOOD: Capsaicin, a chemical found in hot peppers, makes your body sweat without raising your body temperature. As it evaporates, it will cool your skin.
12. FREEZE YOUR BEDDING: Put your sheets, blanket and pillowcases into freezer bags and shove them in the freezer till you’re ready for bed.
13. SWAMP COOLER: An evaporative cooler is a free-standing or built-in unit with a fan that pulls air over pads soaked in cold water. Some systems can lower temperatures by up to 30 degrees and use a quarter of the energy of central air conditioners.
14. COOL YOUR PULSE. Apply cold, wet paper towels to pulse points—wrists, behind the knees and inside elbows.
15. TAKE A COOLING BREATH: Yogis call it sheetali pranayama. Just sit in a comfortable position with your hands on your knees. Stick your tongue out and curl up both sides to create a tube-like shape. Inhale, drawing air through the tube your tongue forms. The air temperature will decrease as it passes over your tongue, leaving behind a pleasantly cool sensation.
16. WET T-SHIRT: Take a light T-shirt, wet it, wring it out and wear it. Evaporation from the shirt will help to keep you cool enough to sleep for a few hours. Or, take a pair of cotton socks, rinse them in cold water, wring them until they are damp and put them on. Cooling your feet lowers the overall temperature of your skin and body.
17. RICE SOCKS: Fill a bag or sock with rice and freeze for two hours. Use it as a cold compress under pillowcases, etc.
18. AVOID SUGARY, ICY DRINKS: The colder the water the more energy your body spends making it body temperature so that it can use it.
19. EAT LESS: Smaller meals with less protein will reduce metabolic heat.
20. BERNOULLI EFFECT: As with planes, air on top and on the downwind side of the house is lower pressure than the upwind side. If you have double hung windows, open the bottom section of the upwind side of the house and the upper section of the downwind side, and the low pressure will pull air through the house. Make the outlet openings larger than the inlet opening, it increases the draft.
21. DEHUMIDIFIER: Humidity makes the air feel warmer.
22. CLOSE WINDOWS: If it’s hotter outside than in the house, opening the windows will only make your home warmer, not cooler.
23. WIND TUNNEL: If there’s a cool breeze outside, set one fan facing in on the side of your home facing the wind, and another facing out on the opposite end of the house.
24. FOIL WINDOWS: Aluminum foil in the sunny windows will grab the heat before it gets in your house.
25. ATTIC FANS: A sola-powered attic fan will use the sunny rays beating down on your house to get out the heat trapped in your attic.
26. WAKE UP EARLY: The coolest hours of the day are between 4-7 a.m.
27. AVOID CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL
28. CLOCKWISE FANS: Set ceiling fans to turn clockwise.
29. SPRITZ YOURSELF: Spray water on your skin and let it evaporate.
And if all else fails…
30. STICK YOUR HEAD IN THE FREEZER