The recent heat wave that has blanketed
the country like a hell-fire hair shirt has many people asking the quintessential summer question with added desperation: "How on Earth do we beat the heat?"
The obvious answer may be to wait it out in front of an air conditioner on full blast, but that's not practical 100% of the time. (Plus, no one will be thrilled with the resulting electric bill.) Instead, as the summer continues to dish the sunshine on steroids, try these crafty alternatives; since this is Green Dad, many of them are eco-friendly. And, since this is dealnews, we've found some great bargains to help you on your way.
1) Teach Your Body and Mind to Chill Out
Studies show that the "relaxation response" elicited by deep breathing and meditation, often with the repetition of a calming word or phrase, slows the body's systems down — so even though the temperature isn't dropping, you may well feel cooler after a few minutes of regulated breath work. Tibetan monks can do the opposite, heating their bodies enough to make freezing blankets steam. I use the meditation strategy when I feel stifling heat, and I'm surprised how effectively it works.
Enhance it: We found a bargain on these Able Planet True Fidelity Noise-Canceling Headphones ($65 with free shipping, a low by $32). Tune in to your favorite music, repeat the mantra of your choice, and cool off by calming down.
2) Borrow Someone Else's Air Conditioning
Regardless of whether you're there or not, movie theaters, bowling alleys, malls, and the like will run their air conditioners around the clock. If you spend the day enjoying a movie marathon, you won't increase the carbon footprint of the theater, and you'll likely decrease usage by turning your own air conditioner off at home. So go ahead and find a theater that's screening all eight Harry Potter films in a row; we won't judge.
Enhance it: We frequently see deals for discounted movie tickets, or other forms of air-conditioned entertainment. In fact, every Friday, Visa Signature cardholders can buy one movie ticket and get a second one for free. You can also check your local deals tab for more discounts on similar activities.
3) All Hail the Mighty Thermos
It takes three gallons of water to make a single gallon of bottled water, according to the Pacific Institute. TreeHugger.com adds that approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil — enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year — are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles burns even more oil. So, skipping bottled water not only saves you some green, since you avoid the repeated purchases, but it's also exceedingly eco-friendly.
Enhance it: Nalgene bottles are a good alternative, but my all-time favorite water bottle keeps drinks frosty cold even when the thermometer soars into the triple digits. The double vacuum walls on this Thermos 16-oz. Stainless Steel Backpack Bottle ($21.50 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $6) keep drinks chilly for up to 12 hours. (It's great in winter too, since it keeps the hot stuff piping for eight hours.) I paid just as much for a so-called steel "sports bottle" at a jogging shop, and it was just great at keeping lukewarm fluids lukewarm.
4) Water Parks Rule
I recently took my kids to a water park just outside Chicago, and while it was crowded to the hilt, we had a fabulous time. If water slides that tower several stories into the air don't cool you off, nothing will. I should stress that this isn't just for kids; I saw many 40-something adults hitting the slides, and their faces beamed as though they'd just jetted back to adolescence. Check Yelp reviews to see what parents and park users say, and beware of parks downgraded for overzealous lifeguards or less than hygienic conditions.
Enhance it: In order to go, you'll need a swimsuit of course. Lands' End takes up to 65% off with free shipping via "FREESHIPJULY" and PIN "2406", while Eddie Bauer takes up to 60% off with free shipping via "SURF". And if you want to look extremely cool, you can snag this Swimming Nose Clip for 99 cents with free shipping via "IOYT0W" (a low by $2).
5) Whistle While You Work. Or, Douse Yourself in Water
The chores wait for no one, and some of them must take place outdoors. But you can be smart about tackling certain jobs by increasing your exposure to water. Need to cut the grass? Get out the hose for the garden and dunk your head in it. Need to wash the car? Get good and wet in the spray of a self-service wash. Power washing the porch? You know where to point that baby when it gets too hot.
Enhance it: While this item is called the Little Tikes Beach Ball Sprinkler ($14.74 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5), I am hereby rechristening it the Green Dad Beach Ball Sprinkler and getting one myself. Might as well put a little bounce in my backyard labor.
6) Eat Small Meals and Eat More Often
This comes courtesy of my friends at the Daily Mail in England. Smaller meals mean less of a spike in metabolism, and less body heat after eating. You can avoid going hungry by spreading out multiple mini-meals across the day, and you may even lose weight; a more evenly regulated metabolism can promote a steady burning of calories.
Enhance it: When packing many small meals for a hungry bunch of summer picnickers, you've got to have a cooler like this Coleman 75-Quart Xtreme on wheels ($39.99 with free shipping, a low by $2). Just don't let your toddlers climb inside and ask for a ride. If they try, tell 'em to cool it.
7) Keep Cool in a Small Room
In the end, you might not be able to avoid staying indoors at home, in which case, you can still limit your air conditioning use. There's a reason we don't miss central air in my house, and that's because our Whirlpool window unit works great in our small office space; I turn up the air, close the door, and feel the room turn into an icebox in minutes. So while it may rise above 100 degrees upstairs, I'm oblivious in that wee office. Did I mention there's a bed in there for napping, too?
Enhance it: Need an air conditioner? Check out this page to score the best price.
Photo credit: Julien Haler via Flickr