Ask LH: How Can I Beat The Heat?

Dear Lifehacker, Since it is scorching hot here in Melbourne, I need some tips on how we can keep ourselves cool — particularly if you are currently renting and you are not allowed to install any air conditioning! Thanks, IHate40Degrees

Picture by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Dear IHate40Degrees,

It’s not just Melbourne which is frequently suffering from stupid levels of heat at the moment: most of the country can now stop complaining that summer hasn’t arrived yet and start complaining about the temperature.

Not being able to install air conditioning is one of the hassles of renting property, since renovations generally need landlord approval. But while air conditioning can be gloriously effective, it can also send your electricity bill rocketing upwards rapidly, so having some simpler alternatives in place can be helpful. Here are a few of our favourites.

Put a bowl of ice in front of your fan. If you’re using a basic fan, this can greatly increase its effectiveness.

Keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge. Spritzing yourself then provides a fast way to cool down. For maximum effectiveness, learn where your body’s quick-cooling points are. For a portable variant, check out how to make a cooling scarf.

Keep the curtains drawn. The effectiveness of this will vary depending on your kind of property, size of windows and orientation of the building. However, in many cases, keeping the sunlight out is more effective than opening the windows, especially on still days. You could also experiment with a green curtain of plants for even more cooling impact.

Take advantage of public air conditioning. You don’t have to stay at home: head to a shopping centre or a public library to take advantage of cooler temperatures. (One of the reasons I was happy to work through most of the Christmas break was that I could head into the office and take advantage of the aircon.)

Drink plenty of cooling liquids. Obvious, but worth reinforcing. While the eight glasses of water rule is an oversimplified myth, taking in extra liquid in hot weather makes sense. Water is your most effective choice here, and it’s easy to cultivate a taste for it.

Don’t obsessively keep track of the temperature. With everyone seemingly lugging smartphones, an update on the current temperature is only a glance away. However, knowing that it’s 43 degrees won’t help you, and could hinder you. Studies suggest that if we believe the temperature is lower than it actually is, we don’t suffer from heat-related effects to the same extent.

Make sure your computer isn’t running hot. This won’t massively change the temperature around the house (unless you have a very small office), but it’s worth making sure your computer isn’t running at excessive temperatures.

Those are some starter suggestions, but we’d love to hear more ideas from readers in the comments.


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