Keeping Cool Without Air Conditioning

Summer is here and that means heat!  It’s the time when we turn on the AC to beat the soaring temperatures

Many of us use air conditioners but we can all save money by using them less.   And we can’t forget that persistent power cuts mean we often have no choice.

Egypt’s electricity company have recently announced huge hikes in tariffs which will translate into bigger bills almost immediately.  If we can save energy on the hottest summer days it will have an immediate payoff.

Lowering our power consumption will not only cut our expenses. It will also ease the strain on our overloaded, ancient and unstable electricity infrastructure.

So let’s start with the easiest, cheapest tips you can do right now to cool off. And remember – even if you have and use an air conditioner, these tips can help you reduce your need for it.

close-windowClose Your Windows

To many this advice seems counter intuitive, but during Egypt’s hot summer days, opening windows will often make you hotter,  not cooler.

Open your windows only at night if the air outside is cooler than inside. Close them – along with curtains or shutters – before the sun hits your house in the morning.

When night falls, open windows wide, particularly if they are facing a prevailing breeze so you can take advantage of cross ventilation. This will allow cool night air to circulate which will slow the daytime heat warming your home the following day.

Use Fans Strategically

desk-fanAn honest fact is that many people don’t know how to use fans effectively. So make sure you are getting the best from them:

Ceiling fans can create a pleasant breeze which can help cool a room.  However, check that you have the fan turning in the right direction.  Remember – ceiling fans can also be used in winter to create an updraft.  In the summer, you should feel the breeze blowing downwards. Also remember that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, so turn it off when you leave.

If you’re buying new ceiling fans, look for an energy efficient one as these will often use up to 50% less energy than comparable models. It will pay you back in the future as it saves money.

Placing a stand-alone directly in front of you, not surprisingly helps keep you cool but add in a spritz water bottle and you can dramatically change your temperature.  As the water evaporates off your skin, your body sheds heat.


Brew a pot of peppermint tea and put it in the fridge.  When its chilled pour it into a spray bottle and mist your skin with it.

The menthol tea gives your skin a lovely tingly cool sensation that works even better than water.
Freeze water bottles and place them in front of your fan, and you’ll enjoy a much cooler breeze. It’s like a makeshift air-conditioner. Some people skip the bottles and opt instead for a bowl of ice.  Both work well and the choice is yours.

A DIY wind tunnel is another option.  If there’s a cool breeze, particularly at night, place one fan facing into the room on the side of your house that is catching the wind.  Then place another facing outside at the opposite end of the house. Trust me – by doing this you are maximising the cooling power of a natural breeze.

fruit-iceEat to beat the heat

Just as drinking a nice cold cocktail cools your body, eating cold food helps keep your internal temperature lower on a hot day. Try a simple chilled salad, for instance, or a cold quiche.  Another favourite of mine is pure fruit ice cubes.  they taste great on their own and really liven up a G&T.

The opposite of that is to eat spicy food. Although this may be the last thing you fancy in hot weather, curries and chillies can stimulate heat receptors in the mouth, enhance circulation and cause sweating, which cools the body down.

If you do cook, use the grill or the microwave.  Avoid using the oven or stove top as you will heat up the kitchen which will spread warmth to other rooms too.

Don’t forget that kitchen appliances aren’t the only items which give off heat.  Limiting your use of electronics and lighting will also help keep your home cooler.

Run your wrists under a cold tap for five seconds each every couple of hours. Because a main vein passes through this area, it helps cool the blood.

Switch Off The Lights

hand_switches_offWhile modern lightning, like compact fluorescents and LEDs, are more efficient, incandescent light bulbs can produce as much heat as they do light. Energy efficient bulbs produce 75% less heat, so replace your old tradional ones. In an previous article I outlined the impact this could have on Egypt and it is massive.  You can read it here…..

It’s always a good idea to shut off lights to save energy, and on hot summer days, it can also affect the temperature of the room.

The same goes for many electronics, so consider unplugging any device that isn’t needed, since even in standby mode, many electronics remain hot.  Energy vampires suck power all the time could be driving your bill up by as much as 25%.  Read about how you can kill these money suckers here…..

Take a Cold Shower

Cold-ShowerIt may sound obvious, but it’s worth saying: If you’re hot, reduce your core temperature by covering yourself in cool water.  Afterwards, air dry your body if you have time instead of towelling off. It is that evaporation tequnique again…..  Unless humidity levels are at 100%, the evaporation of water from your skin will continue to cool you after you have stepped out of the shower.

For a short cut or to cool down when on the go…. use water and ice cubes to keep your wrists cool; since your blood vessels are so close the skin there, you’ll feel cooler by applying cold directly to your blood.

Ice Cold Sleep

sleepingSitting in a hot sweaty room can fray the temper of even the most patient of us.  Trying to sleep in Egypt’s heat can be almost impossible leaving us tired and irritable in the morning and the whole viscous cycle starts again.

Roll some damp flannels up and pop them in the freezer. When you start to feel hot, place them over your face.

Ditch your duvet and sleep under a sheet instead.

Chill your bed by folding sheets and pillow cases, put them in plastic bags, and stick them in the freezer for a few hours.  Make your bed just before you go to sleep for a cooling effect and sweet dreams.

Sleep on a feather or down pillow with a cotton pillowcase. Synthetic pillows will retain heat.

Chill your mattress.  Put soft gel ice packs on top of the mattress and underneath the sheets.  I suggest under your legs, neck, or lower back for maximum comfort. A cheap and easy alternative to the packs is to freeze a cotton sock filled with rice and slip it between the sheets. The rice will hold a chill longer.


rolling-tongueAnd last but not least, next time you feel overheated, try a few minutes of yogic breathing.

Don’t laugh – I am serious!

Try this…..  Curl your tongue by pulling both sides up and in towards the middle, then breathe in through your mouth. Hold your breath, and slowly exhale through your nose. Repeat this action 5 to 10 times.  The impact is instant.  Not only does it cool you – it calms you too.

An Alternative Solution

make-your-battery-last-longerIn the end, keeping cool keeps you comfortable but the power cuts stop you from entertaining yourself and your family.

The lights go out.  The TV turns off.  The internet dies.  Phone, laptop and tablet batteries quickly drain as endless games of Candy Crush are played to keep your bored child or cranky spouse from throwing a tantrum.  I can help with that….

I use a quiet, clean and energy efficient option.  In my home I have a reachable power source that seamlessly keeps my lamps on, my movies playing, my internet streaming and my fan blades spinning.  You can read more about them here….

If you would like to know more about these units or other power generation choices – click here to get in touch with me.

Martin The Power Man

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