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Be Cool Be Green

There IS life after air conditioning... No WAIT! Come back! It's easy, I promise! And it doesn't have to involve suffering through the heat.And after you see what it does to your Hydro bill...

So, the first step in beating the heat is having a two-pronged plan: Keeping your BODY cool and keeping your ENVIRONMENT cool (and by environment I mean your surroundings).
1. Splash:
Splashing cold water on your face, ears and neck when you come indoors from the heat is a huge relief.
2. Strip: Keep clothing to a minimum when indoors. The way the human body cools itself is via evaporation. So the more sweaty surface area that's exposed to a breeze, the faster you're going to cool off.

3. Strip and splash: Go one step further and combine steps one and two! Strip to your skivvies and use a spray bottle (I keep ours in the fridge) to mist yourself with cold water. Park yourself in front of a fan and I guarantee that within minutes you'll be happy as a clam (and possibly even reaching for something to cover up with!)
4. Drink: Iced tea, iced water and mint are all extremely refreshing. Mint in particular has been used in naturopathy to aid digestion and cool the body. You want to avoid fatty, caffeinated or sugary drinks because they stimulate your body or force it to work harder to digest stuff. Keep it simple. And light meals will also keep you feeling more comfy.
5. Chilli: Seems counter-intuitive, but hot food actually cools you down. That's because it makes your body sweat. When exposed to a gentle breeze, your sweaty skin will begin to feel cooler almost immediately. Plus chilli boosts your mood and is believed in some circles to be an aphrodisiac. Just saying.

1. Create a Cave:
Another idea that goes against common logic is to close your home up during the day. Shut the windows, pull the shades down and DISCOURAGE cross ventilation. This is for REALLY hot, sticky days. The idea is to keep your home a cool, dark haven. Open it up once the sun has gone down and the breeze is cooler.
2. Get Shady: Plant shade trees or put up strategically placed trellises by your windows to limit direct sun exposure. If you DO use an airconditioner, try and install it in the shade or place shade over it (in a way that doesn't block the vents). It will boost its efficiency by a good 10%
3. Raise the Roof: If you have the means, get a green roof. The insulation provided will keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It'll help with stormwater retention, biodiversity and offsetting carbon dioxide! It's expensive and may not be for everyone, but if you have the means or inclination, green roofs are well worth considering.
4. See the Light: Regular incandescent bulbs emit most of their energy as heat. So switching to a more energy efficient CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb) will not only save your cash on your Hydro bill, but it will keep you cooler in the summer as well. CFLs are now available everywhere from Home Depot and IKEA to Pharmaprix!
5. Wet your Bed! Spraying your (covering) sheet with water at night and then aiming a fan in such a way that a constant stream of air passes over your sheet covered body will keep you comfy through the hottest night. That's how folks in New Delhi get their beauty sleep when temperatures creep into the 40s.

For all you handy folk, it turns out there IS a way to have the best of both worlds! Check out this link from a University of Waterloo alumnus called Geoff Milburn who got pretty famous after he showed us how to build a fully functional air conditioner using simple, cheap components!
And finally, I want to hear YOUR Be Green Be Cool idea! Write me or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

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Comments (1)

J Middleton



Many people BBQ in the summer because they like the flavour and it's a good way to get the men to help out at suppertime. But the BBQ is a great way to make sure you're not adding heat to your home. I cook just about everything on the BBQ meat + potatoes of course but also veggies and casseroles, if it can be wrapped in foil or put on a cookie sheet it can be done.

Posted August 18, 2008 11:31 AM

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