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Stay Cool

August 11, 2011

By Jennifer Chaky

As I walk and bike all over town, I hear central A/C units cranking all day in huge 3,000-square-foot homes whose owners aren’t even home during the day. I asked one such homeowner why they keep the a/c on even when they are not home and they told me it’s so the house is cool when they get home. I can’t help but wonder what becoming a society that cannot tolerate being uncomfortable for even 10 minutes is doing to us—both personally and physically.

Now that I am committed to not using A/C and keeping my heat low in the winter, I’m finding that I am developing a tolerance to heat and cold that I never had before. And this year in particular I discovered how my metabolism and my wellbeing adjusted to this deeper experience of the seasons.

Last winter I kept the heat at 58 degrees. I wore sweaters and hats in the house and frankly I wasn’t miserable (and I am NOT a winter person). But my body adjusted, and instead of craving warmth, I craved fats. We are a vegan household so our fats come in the form of nuts and oils, and boy, did I crave them last winter. Talk about being in tune with nature! The weather was actually directing what my body needed. And while everyone around us was falling ill to the dreaded flu, we managed to stay completely healthy all season.

And now this summer, since I am experiencing the heat without the aid of air conditioning, my appetite has dramatically decreased and I only crave fresh fruits and vegetables. That diet, plus the fact that I’m biking and walking more, have resulted in getting more toned than I have been in years. I feel great!

I have learned to cope with extreme temperatures by controlling my body temperature instead of controlling the air temperature around me. Here are the ways I keep cool naturally:

# 1: Drinking tons of ice water. My insulated stainless steel water bottle has become my best friend and I sip from it all day long.

# 2: Keep the air moving. Human beings have a natural cooling mechanism called sweat. We sweat, air moves over our skin, the moisture evaporates, and we are cooled. You can enhance this process by spraying yourself with a mist of water and using fans and open windows. Put a bowl of ice, or a bowl with frozen water bottles that you can refreeze, in front of a fan directed at you if you are doing something stationery like working on the computer or watching TV. You may actually get cold.

# 3: Do a mini-cooling with ice water on the back of your neck, wrists, and feet. The body radiates heat from the hands, feet, face, and ears, so cooling any of these will efficiently cool the body.

# 4: Keep the sun out. Close blinds or drapes so the heat of the sun does not reach inside.

#5: If you still need to use the A/C, setting it to a high temperature like 80 degrees will cut the humidity and a ceiling fan will create a nice cool breeze. There is no sense in cranking an A/C so much that it is actually frigid. It is very inefficient and the planet just can’t withstand that kind of waste. And by all means, cool just the rooms you are using, not the whole house of empty rooms! And of course, turn the A/C off when you leave the house!

#6: Don’t forget to leave ice water and open windows for pets. They know what to do when it gets hot—they drink and lay still, usually finding a nice tile floor.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 15, 2010 8:30 am

    It’s nice to see that you are using a stainless steel bottle, so not only are you drinking pure water with no chemicals leaking, but you are preventing global warming by not drinking bottled water which causes a major pollution to the environment.

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