A heatwave can stress your AC system to the breaking point and leave you waiting in a warm house for repairs. How can you ride out the soaring temperatures and humidity? Here are seven tips to stay safe and comfortable until the professionals arrive.
1. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can sneak up on you in humid summer weather. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already depleted. You can prevent this by starting to sip water as soon as you realize your AC needs repair. Hydration is especially important if you are spending time outside and returning to a warm house. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks as they are dehydrating. Effective alternatives to plain water include herbal tea, smoothies, and water infused with fruit.
2. Use Fans Strategically
If you have ceiling fans, running them will circulate the leftover cool air. Use portable fans to increase airflow where you plan to spend the most time. Place bowls of ice cubes in front of them to create a cooling breeze as the ice melts. To keep air moving, set fans in multiple spots, such as a rotating standing fan in one corner and a table fan near seating. In the evening, check if temperatures have dropped enough to put fans in open windows. Opening up the house will also freshen stagnant indoor air.
3. Take a Cold Shower
A cold bath or shower may sound harsh but will cool you down quickly. The temperature of your feet and hands also influences how warm you feel. Try placing them in an ice bath, making sure to cover ankles and wrists.
4. Cool Your Body's Pulse Points
Your body's pulse points have blood flow near the surface, so icing them will cool you down. One option is to freeze a damp washcloth or small towel and drape it around your neck. This trick can help you fall asleep at night. For more sustained relief, try placing ice packs or even bags of frozen fruits or vegetables on your pulse points. Try these spots:
- Sides of your neck
- Upper feet
- Backs of your knees
5. Wear Breathable Fabrics
Even lightweight fabrics vary in how cool they keep us. You want clothes that are breathable and wick sweat and humidity away from your body. Good fabric choices include loosely woven cotton, linen, bamboo, and Tencel. Some synthetic activewear is designed to perform well in the heat, so don't overlook your workout gear. If you're facing a night without AC, choose sleepwear and bed linens made from breathable fabric. Include your pillows and pillowcases, which can trap upper-body heat.
6. Escape to the Mall
Sometimes your safest bet is to head to air-conditioned public spaces, especially during sweltering afternoons. For example, indoor malls are air-conditioned wonderlands, proving a place to rest and shop while you wait for your appointment with the HVAC technician.
Know any local friends or relatives who are out of town? If their home has working AC, consider offering impromptu house sitting.
7. Maintain Your HVAC System
As a homeowner, you can lower your risk of an AC breakdown by properly maintaining your HVAC system. Follow a simple checklist to keep your central air conditioning system operating at peak performance.