How to keep cool in summer
February 23, 2021
The South African summer seems to go on and on and new research, conducted jointly by the University of the Witwatersrand and Free State University, has shown that this is no heat-induced illusion. On average South Africa has six solid months of summer weather starting in October and continuing to March. While there are many advantages to this abundance of fair weather, for many South Africans the hot summer months can be a source of discomfort, and this has only been aggravated by the lockdown restrictions that have, until recently, kept us shut indoors.
Luckily for us, there are many life hacks relating to keeping cool in summer, and we’ve collected them in this guide that aims to help you beat the heat.
Ways to keep yourself cool in summer
Let’s start by looking at some ways that you can keep yourself cool if you feel like you are overheating. These tips are particularly relevant if you live in a household where different people have different temperature thresholds. If your family prefers warm weather and likes basking in the sun like lizards, you will find other solutions a challenge, but there are still things you can do to make this time more bearable for yourself.
Water is an excellent temperature regulator and ironically, both cool and warm showers can help cool you down. While the conventional wisdom might be to try a cool shower and this does offer immediate relief, a warm shower (above 33℃) is often more effective. This temperature increase activates your body’s natural cooling measures by increasing your core body temperature helping you feel cooler for longer.
Drink lots of water
If you feel as though you are overheating, a glass of water can bring you instant relief, but this isn’t the only reason why you should be drinking lots of water in hot weather. Your body’s most effective cooling mechanism is sweat, which evaporates from the skin to cool you down, in very hot weather this can cause you to become dehydrated and so it becomes essential to ensure that you are consuming at least enough water to replace what you are losing.
Wear loose fitting clothing
It’s no coincidence that the people who live in the hottest places on earth almost universally favour light and loose fitting clothing. As with the point above, this is because of the way our bodies naturally cool themselves. For sweat to successfully transfer heat from the skin’s surface into the atmosphere, it requires airflow. Loose fitting clothing promotes this and helps the heat to evaporate away from the body. Colour is important too, with light coloured fabric being more reflective and thus keeping you cooler.
Put cool cloth behind the head
If you have a fever a great way to cool down is to put a cold cloth on your forehead, this helps by allowing the heat from your head to be transferred to the cloth helping to cool you down. This remedy also works well if you are trying to cool down on a hot day offering instant relief to one of your most heat sensitive areas.
Ways to keep your house cool in summer
Now that we’ve covered some ways for you to keep your body cool in the hot summer months, let’s look at some ways you can cool down your space. With the national lockdown we’ve all been forced to spend more time at home, and this has intensified the need for a more comfortable workspace to keep productivity up even when the weather is sweltering.
Proper airflow and ventilation through your home is one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to keep your space cool, and the easiest way to achieve this is by opening the windows. A cool breeze moving through your space will bring in fresh air and take hot, stuffy air out regulating the temperature of your space. If you have concerns around the safety of leaving windows open, you should consider getting an added security device such as a LockLatch or MiniLatch. These lockable latches allow you to keep your window open, but securely locked. This means you can let the cool breeze in, while keeping potential burglars out.
Just like windows, doors also provide a great source of ventilation allowing for airflow through the home. However, leaving either an exterior door or window open does pose some security risks by allowing unwanted persons to get in, or your pets or children to get out. Luckily, there are security options that allow you to leave these openings ajar, but locked in place, meaning you can get the benefits of fresh air, without the risks.
Keep it dark
Blinds or thick curtains are another energy efficient way to keep your room cooler. Without these your room turns into a mini greenhouse, with ambient heat entering and then becoming trapped behind the glass, making the room feel much hotter. By simply closing your curtains you prevent too much ambient heat from building up.
Avoid the stove
It is also good advice to avoid cooking on the stove on hot days. Stoves are generally very inefficient with lots of heat escaping into the kitchen and surrounding rooms raising the temperature even more. If possible look at using an alternative cooking appliance or preparing a cool meal that doesn’t require time on the stove.
Turn on the fan
In homes without sufficient natural ventilation a ceiling or standing fan can be a great way to improve air circulation. It is still very important to ensure that there are open windows or doors to allow the hot air to escape, otherwise you are just moving warm air around the room.
Invest in an air conditioner
Finally, if you need more cooling power and have the funds available you can invest in an air conditioning unit. There are a variety of options available including portable or fixed units, and the one you choose will depend largely on your budget. However, it is important to remember that while portable air conditioners may be cheaper to purchase, they are often less energy efficient than fixed solutions, so you will need to factor these energy costs into your budget.
Things to try avoid during a hot summer day
Another way to stay cool in summer is to limit activities that leave you feeling hot and bothered. Below we give some pointers on what you should avoid to stay cooler in the heat.
Avoid strenuous activities
This point should be pretty self-explanatory, when you exercise or exert yourself your body heats up and it requires more energy to cool down. By avoiding these activities your body has a far easier time maintaining a comfortable temperature.
Extended amount of time in the sun
Exposure to sunshine might have it’s advantages, but on a hot summer’s day it can increase your core temperature to uncomfortable levels. That’s why it’s better to stay indoors or in the shade to give your body’s natural cooling mechanisms the best opportunity to work their magic.
While staying out of the sun is good advice, if this can’t be avoided then be sure to apply enough sunscreen. Sunburn can have a dramatic effect on your comfort levels and your body temperature leaving you feeling hot and bothered even when out of direct sunlight. If you have suffered sunburn we recommend using an aftersun cream to help treat the symptoms of sunburn.
Avoid too much alcohol
Many people crave a cool alcoholic drink when they feel like they are getting too hot, but the refreshing properties of alcoholic drinks are largely an illusion. Alcohol dehydrates the body, and as we have mentioned earlier in the article, this can have a negative effect on natural cooling methods such as sweating, leaving you feeling worse than before.
Keeping cool during a hot summer night
One of the most unpleasant effects of being too hot, is not being able to sleep at night. This can not only leave you feeling tired the next day, but if it persists it can have a marked effect on your general health and wellbeing.
Lose the duvet
Thick cotton or down duvets are great for winter, but are often overkill during a South African summer and should be switched out for a sheet, blanket or, when it’s colder, a summer duvet.
Keep cool water available
This is a good tip for life, not just summer, but always ensure that you have a glass of water at hand. Even in the dead of night, hydration is still one of the most effective ways to stay cool.
Turn on the fan
Sleeping with a fan on, not only provides you with an artificial breeze, but also helps circulate air meaning you get more oxygen while you are sleeping which can help you wake up feeling sharp and refreshed.
Allow the cool night air in
This leads into our final tip, the only thing better than an artificial breeze is a natural one. If your home has good natural sources of ventilation such as windows or doors, you should leave these open to allow fresh air to circulate in the room. Not only will this dramatically cool the room, but also improve air circulation.
However, as we’ve mentioned above many people are reluctant to leave their windows or doors open due to security concerns. By doing something as simple as installing a lockable window or door latch such as Locklatch, or the smaller, more compact MiniLatch, you are able to leave these open to help cool the home down, without jeopardising security.
If the summer heat is getting too much for you, why not consider installing a LockLatch or MiniLatch. It’s a simple, cost effective and easy to install way of keeping your home cool and airy.