Most of Australia can be typified as 'very bloody hot' during the summer months. If you're stuck in a sweatbox unit or house without aircon this summer, the days can be unbearable and the nights un-sleepable. But, and hear me out, there are some ways to help you feel more comfortable when summer's fiery hot hands are knocking at your door.
Now that we’re heading towards the hottest part of year, it’s time to talk about heatwaves — specifically, how to stay healthy during them. Rather than just trying to tough it out, it’s best to take a few precautions. This is especially true if you or someone you’re taking care of is in a high-risk group, like people 65 and over, children two and below, pregnant individuals or people with chronic illnesses.
Have a shower
This one's a bit of a no brainer but if you're hot and sweaty, take a quick, cold shower to reset your body's temperature. With water restrictions, however, it's important you keep it quick and sparing. Obviously, this one's not going to help you if you're already in bed but it's a quick way to get cool in the peak of the heat during the day.
Invest in a spray bottle
This one's a tip almost as old as time itself. For less than $5, you can purchase a spray bottle and fill it with cold water for a few (or many) spritzes to cool yourself down. If you combine it with a fan or source of wind, it'll almost feel like air conditioning without the hefty electricity bill.
Use a fan
Chances are the reason you don't have an aircon unit is because one, they're expensive and two, they don't always fit neatly in most units or houses. A fan, however, can set you back as little as $20 and is a worthwhile investment for getting through the Australian summer.
A fan can increase the airflow in a room and blow wind onto your sweaty face to create a cooling effect. It's DIY aircon and it's great.
Load your freezer with ice blocks
Ice is a good way to combat heat, who'd have thought it. If you load your freezer with edible cold things, you can crack them out when the mercury rises to unbearable. Additionally, grab a towel and wrap something from your freezer, say frozen peas, in a wet towel and wipe it on your body. In conjunction with a fan or a breeze, it'll make you feel like you're Elsa from Frozen.
Freeze your water bottles
When I was a child, my mother used to freeze half my water bottle on hot days so I'd have icy cool water. Just because you're no longer five doesn't mean you can't continue on the tradition well into adulthood. Also, freezing your water bottles doesn't have to just be for consumption. Like the previous tip, you can pop them in a hand towel and put them near your feet or body when you go to sleep.
Close windows and shut the blinds
While opening the windows to let the fresh air in seems like the right thing to do in extreme heat, it can actually be counter-intuitive. Closing the windows to keep the cool air in and shutting the blinds to block out as much of the sun as you can should help to regulate the temperature in your abode just that little bit more. During the night, if there's a breeze, crack open a window to let it in but remember to close it again as the sun rises.
Consider block out curtains
If your blinds or curtains are not performing well against the sun, consider getting something a little more heavy duty. Block out curtains help to cut out the sun and keep the place a bit cooler. If you're renting and have blinds that won't fit curtains, there are block out blinds available but they might cost you a bit more. In these cases, ask your landlord for your options.
Close your doors
Closing each room's door will help stop the spread of heat and maintain a room's temperature. If one room, for example, faces the sun or doesn't get the breeze, it's likely to get much hotter than other rooms and eventually, that heat will seep into the rest. Shutting the door might not make a room a walk-in refrigerator but it will help silo creeping heat.
Spray yourself with water before bed
On particularly difficult nights, you can use that water bottle you got earlier to spray yourself with water. The water, especially when mixed with a fan, will help to cool you down and if it's still not enough, you could prepare earlier in the day by spraying a top sheet or towel with water (not fully soaking it), popping it in a plastic bag and then putting it in the freezer. When you take it out, it should keep you cool enough to get to sleep.
Swap for cotton or linen
Most of us will already be using cotton sheets and that's great because they work best to keep you cool during the heat. If they're not working, however, you could consider trying out linen sheets or bamboo sheets, which are also effective during the summer. Just remember, definitely don't use flannelette sheets. Silk sheets also aren't great for moisture wicking so if you're a sweaty sleeper, consider switching over to something else.
If your air conditioning is costing too much this summer, look into a whole-house fan. They cool your home by removing the hot air and exhausting it through windows or soffits in the attic.