During the hottest part of the day, when the air outside is much hotter than inside or the Sun is shining in and heating things up, you must keep the heat out. Use heavy drapes with a white backing (which reflects the ultraviolet rays) to keep the Sun from getting in. This isn't really the most effective method because, like in your car, heat gets trapped between the glass and the curtain. What works best, as tacky as this seems, is to tinfoil your windows. Yes, you just read that right. I said tinfoil your windows. From the inside of the window (with the shiny side facing out) press the tinfoil onto the glass, using tape to hold it in place if necessary. Crinkling the foil a little helps prevent it from blinding passers by. I recommend disinfecting your windows with something strong, like bleach, before you do this to prevent mold from growing between the window and the foil. If shiny happy windows do not appeal to your neighborhood association, you still have options. White shoe polish. Yep, you heard that one right, too. Most neighborhoods, complexes, & communities require that your blinds or curtains show white from outside, Luckily, white reflects light best of all the colors (unless tinfoil is a color), and is a good second choice for painting your windows. Shoe polish is my favorite product for the job because it applies without much mess and washes (scrapes) off easily enough when the weather starts to cool. It may take several applications to get it on there thick enough. But it's essentially the same principal as the tinfoil, to reflect the light and the heat away from the glass, not through it. If you plan on keeping your windows closed and not painting/tinfoiling them (like if you are using an AC), you can 'double pane' them yourself. It's just like insulating your windows in the winter. Use plastic wrap or clear plastic sheeting to make an airtight cover around the window, leaving space between the window and the plastic.
- During the hours that the sun is not shining in or the air outside is cooler, you'll probably want to open your windows and doors. You can decide which ones to open to direct air circulation throughout the entire house or to a specific area. Generally you want more windows open in the direction the wind is coming from and fewer open where the wind is going to. If most of the wind is coming in at the North side of your house, you want to open as many windows & doors possible on that side and then a few on the South side to let the air out.
- Similarly, you may want to direct air in from a certain direction. If, for instance, you have a patch of trees to the back of your house and highway out front, then you would want cool forest air coming in and hot air not getting in. This is easy if the breeze is coming from the cool side, follow the directions above. Open lots of lower windows on the cool side and a few upper windows on the hot side. If upper and lower aren't applicable then just ignore that part.
- The upper lower thing can also be used to completely air out a house more efficiently. Open lowers in the direction of the wind and uppers in the direction its going. The air comes in from the lower side and pushes the hot air (that rises up) out the upper windows.
Fans can be used to direct air flow, and though they are used many different ways, that is all they ever really do. My favorite kind to use is a cheap-o Dollar Store box fan. They are so versatile and usually fit perfectly in windows.
- If the air is cooler than your body temperature, a fan cools you by blowing cool air towards you, replacing the air around you that has been warmed by body heat. If the air is warmer than your body temperature, you are likely sweating and the fan speeds the evaporation of warm sweat off your skin and into the air. It takes it's heat with it. For this reason, having a fan blowing in an empty room does not necessarily cool it.
- Freeze gallon jugs or 2-Liter bottles full of water. (as many as will fit in your freezer, preferably) Put a frozen jug between you and a fan and enjoy. When it melts, replace it with a frozen one and put it back in the freezer. Because the jugs of frozen water keep the freezer cooler longer, keeping them in there offsets the electricity it takes to freeze & refreeze them. And because the freeze is coming on less often, it is putting off less heat.
- Ceiling fans are most effectively used only when someone is in the room (they don't do a good job of pulling in cool air or pushing out hot air) and on the setting where they pull air up rather than pushing it down.
- Use fans in windows and doors to force a certain pattern of air circulation. Force a cross-breeze when there isn't one. Direct air in from cool areas out through hot areas (like the kitchen). Create more air pressure in a room that has fewer windows/doors by directing air in from the outdoors or in from the indoors to cool a room faster.
- There are also little exhaust fans that blow cool air. These are a great last resort for those who just won't or can't turn on the AC. They use very little electricity; comparable to that used by a large fan.
You've heard of Green Living, this is similar. The objective is to create as little heat as possible.
- Turn off any appliances, devices, & lights you aren't using and try to use those things less.
- Use energy saver lights, they produce WAY less heat.
- Turn off your T.V. You won't believe how much heat they produce.
- Cook less. Make more salads & slaws. Cook in a crock-pot, and put that crock-pot on the balcony. (Defend against ants with a protective circle of ground cinnamon. No Shit! It burns them like acid!) Grill your food. Resist the urge to bake anything.
- If you must cook, use a fan blowing from the interior doorway to your kitchen and another blowing out the the exterior opening of your kitchen. If you have only one fan, choose the interior doorway, blowing air from inside the house to the outside.
- If you use central air, and are trying to keep your kitchen from heating up the rest of the house: Seal it off by closing any doors leading to the kitchen or covering them with curtains. A blanket works fine for this. Close all vents. Direct air in from one exterior window or door and out another. If you only have one exterior opening or one fan, position it to blow from the most interior part of the kitchen toward the biggest/only exterior opening.
- Dry clothes on the line, or on hangers outside or in the bathroom. (Direct sunlight is good for bleaching whites and colors, use it like you'd use the chlorine stuff.) Directing a fan at wet clothes speeds the process. I know it seems like a lot of work, but once you've smelled line-dried sheets, you'll never go back.
- Leave the hot water heater off most of the time. Look in your breaker box for how to turn it off.
- Wash dishes by hand or, if you must use a dishwasher, set it to drip dry.
- Stay hydrated! Plenty of fluids are necessary in hot weather! There are lots of cooling herbal teas & lemonades to choose from. Drinking mint anything is a great idea, too.
- Make 'sun-tea'. Put your herbs/tea bags in a tea pitcher full of water in the sun and wait a few hours. Doesn't heat up the the house.
- Take cool showers.
- Wear as little as you can get away with. (I live in a bikini top)
- Mix a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle of water. (preferably with a fine mist setting) Shake vigorously and mist yourself (avoid eyes) for a quick cool off.
- Wet your hair.
- Try to keep activity to a minimum during the hottest hours of the day.
- Use the water hose to spray down your roof & sun scorched walls.
- When all is said and done, a little weather magic never hurts either!