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summer heat yellow umbrella sun

It’s a hot, hot summer for some parts of the continent. Where there’s heat, there’s people grumbling about the ever-hottening of summer.

From water features to landscaping choices and silly little things you can do inside, there’s a world of creative ideas out there for keeping your cool as the summer sun burns on.

Here’s a big ol’ list of things for you to consider.

1. Bathtub/bare feet/cold drink combo

Fill a bathtub with some cold water (even 4-6” makes a difference!) and just stand in it. Imagine me and my best friend on the hottest day of the year, barefoot, standing in my bathtub together, sipping mojitos. Good memory of silliness after too long a walk home from the store, and it works too.

2. Ice ice, baby

Put a bowl of water and ice in front of a fan and it’ll blow cool air through the room as the ice melts and water evaporates.

3. Cool pillow on *both* sides

Stick your pillow (in a plastic bag so it doesn’t absorb odors) in a deep freezer a couple hours before bed so it’s cold at bedtime. Or do it with bedding. Even topsheets in the freezer can do the trick to cool you off just long enough to get to sleep.

4. Don’t throw in the towel – hang it up

Hang a damp towel in a window that gets a good breeze. The evaporating water cools the air, which helps cool your room. It’s the desert’s favorite “life-hack” air-conditioner.

5. Curtain call

Keep your curtains closed. It’s the age-old trick to keeping your place cooler on hot days because it always works. If you have a white backing, it’ll be even more effective.

6. When life gives you lemons …

Make lemonade. Because lemons! Yummy! Everyone feels cooler with a glass of lemonade in hand. Or ice tea. Or a banana smoothie. You’re getting the drift. Tasty beverages will keep you hydrating, and hydrating keeps you cooler. (More so if you’re not using ice cubes, since too cold makes your body work harder to get it to body temperature, making you warmer in the process!)

7. Get mist-erious!

Speaking of drifts, install a misting system on your patio or buy a misting fan for indoors, and use it when it’s getting unbearable.

8. Spray it, don’t say it

If a misting fan is out of your budget, keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge (and a backup one in case you forget the other one outside!) and spray yourself from time to time. As the water evaporates, you cool off.

9. Slip up and slide into summer

Grab a 30-foot long sheet of painter’s thick poly plastic and get the hose out — it’s time to slip’n’slide on the lawn! Invite the neighbors and have some giggles’n’slips.

10. Rock it like it’s 1988

Run through a neighbor’s sprinklers, because it’s even more fun when you’re over 30. Don’t forget to make rainbows with the garden hose spray. That’s fun too.

11. Sail away, sail away, sail away …

Install shade sails, triangles, and other kinds of yard and patio coverings for pockets of shade throughout your yard. The days of the corner-grommeted blue tarp in the yard are long gone. Today’s sail shades and other coverings are more easily cleaned, stylish, and tougher in those summer winds that can rise without warning.

Consider getting a variety of shades to install in different areas of your yard, so you can use various spaces as the sun tracks across the sky in the Dog Days of summer.

12. Little piggies go to market

Walk barefoot in some green grass or in the water at the beach. It feels so lovely and you’ll forget you’re hotter than a sidewalk in the desert.

13. On the air

Air-dry your laundry and your dishes. Dishwashers and dryers use hot air, and we know that sucks. But if they air-dry, they evaporate and help cool your space.

14. All under one umbrella

Explore umbrellas. A great patio umbrella with adjustable angles will never steer you wrong on the quest for shade on a hot day. Don’t feel silly if you feel like taking a walk with an umbrella either — there’s a reason people still do it all around the world. It’s called “sunlight is hot.”

15. Make like Elsa

Make frozen juice treats. It’s a great way to get healthy calories and cool off while it’s sweltering outside.

16. Soak: kiddie style

Get a kiddie pool to soak in, even if you’re all grown up. Splish-splash, who’s taking a bath? You! Come on, rubber ducky, there’s room for you in there too.

17. Closing time

Close the window. It sounds counterintuitive, but if it’s 85 outside and 78 in your home, there’s no sense letting that warmer air into your house, is there?

18. Houseplants are cool, dude

Have more plants around. Whether it’s in your yard or in your home, greenery helps cool the planet. If you’ve got lots of trees, shrubberies, hanging planters, and more, you’ll have a cooler environment around you.

19. Let there be light … not

Turn the lights off. Use CFC bulbs and they’ll emit less heat if you’re stuck needing lights in a dark room.

20. The answer my friend is blow it out your house

At night time, stick your fan by a window but have it facing outside. Experts tell us this sucks all the crappy hot air out of your place while allowing the cool air to enter. Mm, cool air. Sounds nice, huh?

21. Go low-tech

Turn off unused electronics. The computer, the TV, your printer, the router — everything’s giving off heat, and you might not notice it in December, but I guarantee you it’s adding to your scorcher of a summer day.

22. Chef Al Fresco

Cook outside. Barbecuing isn’t just tasty, it’s an essential way of keeping the heat down indoors. Plus: Barbecue!

23. Enjoy your salad days

Eat cool. From gazpacho to salads, cold foods are a great way of regulating your body temperature. The fresh foods also help keep you hydrated, thanks to their high water content. Think cucumbers, oranges, berries, and everything else filled with yummy juices. Here are 12 chilled soup recipes you can consider this summer.

24. How low can you go?

Hang out on the floor. Especially if you’ve got hardwood, sitting low to the ground is cooler than sitting on the sofa. Even if it’s only a couple degrees less, it helps.

25. Wear it wet

An old sailor’s trick for those who garden: Put a wet, cold facecloth on top of your head, then wear a hat to keep it in place. It’s a great way to avoid sun sickness while feeling cool. Similarly, soak your shirt and wring it out before putting it on. It may be clingy at first but it’ll dry out fast, keeping you cool until it does.

Have fun!

Summer can be unpleasant for some people, but life is full of seasons and change. Instead of sweating the hot stuff, have fun trying to stay cool, and enjoy the lazy, mellow days of the outdoors while you can. Hopefully this list gives you some better ideas how to weather the heat.

What low-consumption keep-cool tips have you got for us that aren’t on this list? Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.