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Keeping cool in a hot house

Beating the heat without A/C.

Record breaking heat has affected nearly every state in the U.S. these last few weeks. For many of us, especially those of us in older homes, central air conditioning isn't available. Even if you have air, the heat and heavy use could be taxing the system or your wallet when the electric bill comes in. How do you beat the heat without breaking a sweat?

If you don't have air conditioning, take advantage of natural cooling. Open the windows in the evening or early morning when the outdoor air is cooler, then shut them tight before it warms up. Keep your curtains closed so the sun doesn't shine in and heat up your home. If you must open windows during the day, open those on shady sides of the house so it's cooler air coming in. When possible, open two opposite windows for cross ventilation. If there's a breeze, open the window that will catch it.

Fans don't generate cold air but the breeze across your skin cools you. Use ceiling fans in every room possible and floor or pedestal fans elsewhere. Sometimes a fan alone is enough to make a hot house feel comfortable.

On those exceptionally hot days try this trick we used to do when I was a kid. Freeze a baking pan full of water. When the heat gets unbearable set this pan of ice in front of a floor fan. The breeze from the fan picks up a chill that helps cool you and the room as it blows across the ice. Keep a couple pans in the freezer so you can replace one once it melts.