Design & DIY

9 hacks to help you cool down this summer


I think we can all agree that the summer is short, so the last thing we want to do is complain about the heat when we have it. But whether your cottage is without air conditioning, you’re trying to conserve energy, or you’re trying to shave dollars off your monthly bills, it can be tough to stand the heat in the dog days of summer. For that reason, we’ve put together some alternatives to help you keep your cool this summer.

1. Upgrade your sheets

Self-proclaimed sheet obsessors swear by only sleeping on sheets made of 100% natural fibers, preferably cotton or linen. Synthetic fabrics don’t breathe easily, and silk or satin sheets may seem like they would be light and airy, but both materials tend to drape close to the body, which can trap and insulate heat. The colour matters, too. Dark colours will only absorb the sun that comes through your bedroom windows throughout the day, so opt for light-coloured bedsheets.

2. Abandon the kitchen

Turning on your stove on a hot day can quickly make any house or cottage feel like a sauna. While totally abandoning the kitchen may not be an option, using smaller appliances (a toaster oven or small grill) can help, but your best bet is to grill cold meals like salads, sandwiches, fruits and vegetables. Most importantly, don’t forget about how much fun you can have with the barbecue! You don’t have to confine yourself to typical items like steak burgers, and hotdogs—your barbecue can be used for a multitude of things, including corn, pizza, and even s’mores.

3. Eat spicy food

That familiar neighbourhood jingle may have you craving ice cream and sweets, but apparently eating hot food is the key to cooling down. It makes sense, when you consider that some of the most delicious spicy foods come from the hottest places (Mexico, India, Jamaica). Apparently the temperature of the food induces sweat, which naturally cools down your body.

4. Try flavour-infused beverages

Obviously, staying hydrated is super important in your attempt to conquer summer heat. There are plenty of ways to make guzzling your recommended dose of H2O more enjoyable, including flavour infusions. Try adding refreshing combinations like raspberry and lime, or watermelon and basil to a pitcher of ice water.

5. Make the freezer your friend

When it comes to those sticky, sleepless nights, some of us would resort to almost anything for some relief. Depending how committed you are, you can stick a small pillow, pillow case, or all of your bed sheets in a plastic bag in the freezer, then take them out when you go to bed. For a quick fix, wrap a towel or a pillowcase around an icepack (or a frozen repurposed hot water bottle) and take it to bed with you. Furry friend tip: Your pooch is also trying to fight off that heat (with a pretty heavy winter coat to boot). As a special treat, your dog would probably appreciate it if you tossed a couple of ice cubes in his water dish. (Or you can train your pooch to fetch his own ice, like this guy.)

6. Get dark

It seems pretty self explanatory, but the more electricity you have running through your house, the more heat is generated. Even lightbulbs can alter the temperature of a room, so your first step is to turn off your lights, especially during sunlight hours. Consider dark drapes, curtains, shades or blinds to keep out the light, and if you aren’t home during the day, keep them closed. Another option is switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs—they only use one third of the power that incandescent bulbs require, which saves on your energy bill and the environment.

7. Use peppermint

The same way that what you eat and drink can help you acclimatize, what you smell and use on your body can have a huge affect on how refreshed you feel, too. (Anyone who has used a product with a picture of a cucumber or lemon on it next to the word “refreshing,” “invigorating,” or “morning burst” knows what I’m talking about). However refreshing and commonplace these items are becoming, if they are produced by big, industrial chains, they probably include chemicals and solutions that can actually clog your pores, blocking more sweat. For a truly refreshing experience, try using natural liquid soaps, body sprays or lotions loaded with fresh mint or peppermint oil, such as the Body Shop’s Peppermint Foot Cooling Spray and Burts Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint Rosemary Body Wash.

8. Invest in good toys

On air or in the water, floating comfortably is your best method for a natural breeze while still enjoying the heat of the great outdoors.  For endless lounging on the water, you might want to consider a durable but comfortable lounge chair with inflatable cushions and cup holders, like this one from Home Depot. On land, a well-shaded hammock can provide the ultimate location for a breezy nap.

9. Focus on air flow

Firstly, investing in a high-power, quality fan can make a world of difference. However, it has been shown that a solo fan can actually do very little to regulate the temperature of an entire room and that fans are more useful when targeted directly. The most important thing is to use fans properly, or the whole attempt is basically futile. Ideally, you should have two fans. One should be somewhere shady or cool, so that the air it’s grabbing is cooler than the air it is circulating, rather than just blowing around hot wind. (On nights when the outside is cooler than the inside, placing your fan in your window is the same idea.) Another fan should be placed at the other end of the room, blowing the hot air outside through an open window or door. Even if you prefer open windows to buzzing fans, air flow is key. One window might not do much, but opening a window at either end of your house or cottage allows a complete breeze to come through.