Staying Cool in the Texas Heat

By:  Elizabeth Garner and Nicholas Johansen

We all know Texas summers are HOT! This year, however, has been more extreme than previous summers. In the summer of 2011, the Austin area experienced triple-digit temps lasting 27 consecutive days. As of today, we are currently on the 6th day of triple digits (we've had a total of 40 triple-digit days this summer so far). Because the heat has been brutal and poses serious health risks, we have decided to create a list of things you can do as a homeowner and resident of Texas to stay cool in this heat!

Clean Your Air Conditioning Unit

One of the first things you should consider is cleaning your AC unit. Although there are commercial cleaning products you can buy to help you; however, hosing the unit down with water will remove any dirt, dust, or grass that can get stuck in the vents on the sides of your AC unit. Taking the time to clean your AC will help it function better at keeping your home cool. Also, be sure to change your air filters inside to help with the airflow. 

Insulate Windows

Another way to keep your home cooler is to close your window blinds and curtains. Be sure to point the window blinds up to prevent the Sun from getting in. You can also take it a step further by adding foil or foam insulation sheets to your windows on the inside or even updating screens on the windows outside with high UV blocking screens. The goal here is to let in as little Sun as possible to prevent the heat from rising inside your home. 

Small Appliances

When it comes time for dinner, use small appliances over your oven. Ovens release a tremendous amount of heat and take a long time to cool down once you've used them. Using countertop appliances like an air fryer or crockpot will reduce excess heat in your home. 

Ceiling fans and Stand Fans

Fans are also a great option to cool off inside your home. You might not be aware that the blades have a winter and summer setting. For summertime, you want the edges to spin counterclockwise to create a downdraft that will provide a cooling breeze. In turn, during the winter, rotating clockwise will create an updraft and circulate warm air around the room. On most ceiling fans, there is a switch you can flip on the top of the fan that will change the direction of the blades. If you're using oscillating or stand fans, the placement of the fan matters. Consider where the fan is pulling air from; keep in mind that placing the fan further away will be more beneficial in cooling the entire space.

Ice Bucket Trick

If you feel like your stand fan is still not enough, fill a bucket with ice and place the bucket behind your fan. This is an old-school version of an AC unit -- the air pulling in from the fan over the ice will cool down your home even more. Fun fact, adding salt to the ice can help to cool the ice down even more!

Cooling Neck Wrap

Another great trick is to soak a dish towel with cool water, ring out the excess water, and freeze it. Once frozen, wear it around your neck. You can also use icepacks wrapped in a thin towel to get the same cooling effect. 

Breathable Clothing 

Wearing lightweight, breathable fabrics, like cotton, can also help. Wear lighter colors as well because lighter colors absorb less heat than darker colors.

Hydration is Key

Sweating can lead to dehydration and an imbalance in your electrolyte levels, causing you to feel sick. Staying hydrated is extremely important; drink plenty of water and drinks with electrolytes, or eat fresh fruits and veggies to keep your body happy and hydrated.

Cold Shower

If you're still feeling hot, take a cool shower. Not only will this help bring your body temperature down, but it also helps your home stay cooler. Whereas when you take a hot shower, the steam builds up and warms your bathroom.

Shade Trees

This last tip is more of a preventative and something to do to help your home stay cooler in the future. This is because it takes time for trees to grow; however, planting more trees around your home now will pay off as the trees will prevent/limit the Sun's rays from beating down on your roof; thus, your home will stay cooler. 

We hope this list of tips and tricks helps you to beat the Texas heat this summer. Stay cool!

Photos by: Joshua Case, Tarik Haiga, Delaney Van, Engin Akyurt, Jacques Bopp on Unsplash

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