It’s official. Summer has arrived in the Philippines. According to PAGASA, summer began early April with the termination of the northeast monsoon marking the arrival of the scorching hot season in the country. With the start of summer, we can also expect our expenses rising with the temperature. Our electric bills will undoubtedly give us a headache as we turn to our air conditioning units to cool down, and while we can always go to our nearest malls to escape the heat, we can’t always control ourselves from shopping or eating at fancy restaurants. So, if you are looking for a solution to beat the heat without breaking the bank, here are four practical ways to cool down during the summer days.
Treat your fans like soldiers in a battlefield
Electric fans are the best alternatives to your air conditioning units. But don’t place your fans in random places and expect that the house will feel cooler. You can maximize the power of your electric fans by coming up with strategies to circulate cool air around the room. Position your fans near windows that are not catching sunlight, or where wind can be felt the most. Place them in a way that the fans work together and not against each other, so that the air disperses evenly. It may be a little extreme, but we like to akin this to a battle where you position your soldiers the best way to get the most out of the fight.
Speaking of treating fans like soldiers, you should probably equip fans with the right “weapons” to combat the heat. Freeze a bottle of water with rock salt, and place it in front of your fan. It’s like creating one of those fancy cooling fans you commonly see in department stores and appliance centers. You can also manually spritz cold water if you’re looking to feel more refreshed.
Adjust your electronics and appliances
Some of your electronics and appliances may have settings so that it uses less power and gives off less heat. A laptop’s power setting is easily adjustable. If you are only using your office applications and web browsers, set the power mode to its lowest setting so that it generates less heat. It also lengthens your laptop’s battery life so you charge it less. You can do the same with your mobile devices. By lowering their power mode and using less of their batteries, you lengthen the time it takes before you have to plug them back in the power sockets to charge.
If you cannot adjust your electronics and appliances, then minimize your use of them. Turn off unnecessary appliances when not in use. Not everyone watches television anymore (as they’ve switched to the internet for entertainment and news), so maybe you can make do with using it for 3 - 5 hours a day. You can choose to open it when watching a movie or when your favorite tv shows are on.
You can also invest and swap your current items for power-efficient ones. They’re usually costly but use less power and generate less heat. Swap your fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. Their electrical efficiency is several times better than incandescent ones, and are also significantly better than fluorescent lights. They last longer, are cooler, and use less power.
You should also swap your old TVs and monitors to new LED-backlit LCD displays. So you aren’t confused, these televisions are usually marketed as LED displays instead of the older LCD ones. LED displays are significantly cooler and use less power than LCD ones, resulting to lower electricity bills. They’re also more environment friendly.
Fix fabric faux-pas
Whether during the summer or the chilly “-ber” months, we usually shop for clothes whose fabrics will keep us comfortable. It’s the same principle applied to your home. Look at your current fabric choices and see if you need to swap it out for cooler alternatives.
Does your living room have a leather sofa? Slip in a cotton sofa cover so your skin won’t feel sticky when you sit on it. Are your curtains thick and dark? Switch it with lighter linen or cotton curtains, to bring in the sunlight while keeping the heat out. You can also add layers to your curtains if you feel that your rooms are getting too much sunlight.
If you use carpets at home, switch out your thick carpets to seagrass and bamboo ones. They’re rougher than your conventional carpets, but they absorb less heat. Or if you can, just roll up your carpets during the summer season.
Let Mother Nature help you
While it’s easy to get pissed off at Mother Nature during this intense season, it’s best if you make her your friend rather than foe. Simple adjustments and small investments on Mother Nature’s powers can help you cool down for the rest of your summer days and beyond.
In the morning, before the sun reaches its peak as well as late in the afternoon to evening, open the windows that are not directly facing the sun. Doing this lets the heat out, and welcomes the cooler air in. Open the window while you’re showering as well to let the heat and humidity out. Do use curtains though if you are not the exhibitionist type.
Plants and trees are excellent at cooling your home. Place cooling plants like Areca Palm, Boston Fern, and Aloe Vera in your home and backyard to keep it cool. Vines are very effective in cooling your home as well. We recommend fast-growing climber vines, like Ivy (not the poisonous one!), and Virginia. If you want something colorful, use bougainvillea. It needs a little bit of training, but it does require little precipitation, which is perfect during the summer days. If you want to take it the extra mile, plant trees at the side of your home that gets direct sunlight for extra shade.