Monday, June 20, 2016

AC-Free Ways to Keep Your Family and Animals Cool This Summer

I am a winter baby, dear readers. Pale and pasty by nature. I turn red in the sun, that's it. No loving mocha shade of brown here. Real red - red - peel - white. That's my summer skin cycle. I'm already feeling the sting of my third sunburn this year. And today is only the first day of summer.

Now I know what you're thinking. Buck up and deal Jen, it's sunny and beautiful outside. Stop whining!

And you may be on to something there. But first, allow me to remind you that I am a transparent, sweaty beast with a head full of hair that goes ZING in the heat. I, like my incredibly hairy dog, fully-feathered 10-week-old-chickens, and similarly sweaty-beast children, need ways to chill after being in hell the summer of satan outside.

Thankfully I have the internet....a beautiful tool that connects me to people who've been there, done that, long before I was doing anything at all. Here are my favorite, creative cool-down methods, brought to you by the beautiful bloggers and homesteaders around us.

Cooling the House
The Attic Fan - Stick a fan in the attic opening of your house with the "blow" side facing into the attic. Close all your windows and draw the shades in sunny rooms. Make sure the door to the basement is open and then turn the fan on - it will suck cool air from the basement into the attic, leaving a trail of cool in its wake. Instant breeze!

Plant Vines - Morning glory, ivy, and other fast-growing vines are easy to plant and spread rapidly. Grow them a few feet off the exterior wall on the sunny side of your house to cool it down by up to twenty degrees!

Cook Outside - Heating up your house with the oven is counterproductive when temperatures rise. Grill outside and if you're really craving meatloaf, consider building your own outdoor oven.

Implement Passive Cooling Strategies - Things like paint, roof overhangs, and ventilation are easy, affordable ways to cool your home without utilizing any crazy resources. The dude in the video I linked to obviously has the perfect example with his earthbag home, but some of these strategies can be applied to your standard suburban home, too....specifically the section where he talks about plants.

Cooling Your Body
Homemade Popsicles - My mouth is the quickest thing to fire off when I'm heated. Why not cool things down with a super-simple, budget-conscious popsicle? Cold foods are enjoyable, refreshing, and quite literally decrease your body temperature as you eat them.

Homemade Fudgsicles - And when popsicles don't work, try the sweet, soothing elixir that is cocoa all up in my mouf. These lovely little additions to my summertime snacking only have five ingredients.

Pools, Pools, Everywhere - You don't need to run to WalMart and spend $500 to create your own backyard swim zone. Check out these creative (and often hilarious) ways to build a pool without the crazy costs.

Get Up and Out - Early mornings are always cooler than blazing hot summer afternoons. If you have chores and outdoor activities you've gotta get done, do them bright and early before that sun gets too high.

Build a Portable Swamp Cooler - If you just can't beat the heat but aren't ready to fire up the air conditioner, try building one of these puppies. They're intended for smaller spaces but run off so little electricity/battery power, you could easily make one for each person in your family. Neato!

Clothes Matter! - Cotton, cotton, cotton. Wear breathable, loose fabrics. I personally love Pact, an organic cotton company that doesn't use any child labor or sweatshops and is Fair Trade Certified.

Drink - Now everyone knows alcohol dehydrates you.....but a single glass of homemade blackberry mead isn't gonna kill anyone.....might even help distract you from the heat. Ok maybe I just really wanted to link to homemade mead. You can always follow it up with a glass of water right? Eh? Ehh?

Cooling Your Animals
Freeze it for Chickens - Stick mint and strawberry tops into muffin tins, fill each muffin cup with water, and then freeze. Pop those suckers out and your little chickie babies will be happy (and cool!) as can be.

Freeze it for Pups - Mix a little bit of fruit, yogurt, broth, and scrap meat together and pour into popsicle molds. Stick dehydrated chicken feet into the top for the "stick" and freeze. Wah-lah! A delightful way to help your dog beat the heat this summer.

Freeze Water Bottles - Fill up water bottles (or any old container with a lid) with water and freeze them. When the temps climb take your frozen bottles into the coop to help your girls stay cool.

Baby Pools Are Cool - Drag out that cheapo $10 plastic pool and fill 'er up. Chances are someone, be it a feathered friend or a furry one, will be grateful for the effort and gladly jump in.

I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one who struggles with the heat. A long, long time ago, creativity around the household was vital, especially when it came to withstanding the elements. I am so grateful I can read about the many interesting and eco-friendly ways people beat the heat....hoping to employ a number of these tips and tricks this year to see which ones work best. Maybe I'll learn to love summer, after all! :)

Now I will stop whining, mkay? At least until next week ;)

What about you, dear readers? How do you beat the heat and keep your flocks and families cool? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading!



  1. It is definitely steaming hot here in South Florida! I have to admit our AC is churning away most of the year but when I want to get out I go to the beach (luckily 5 minutes away) with a good umbrella and enjoy the ocean breezes and a nice quick dip too. (And don't forget the sunscreen!) I also keep lots of smoothies, ice pops and flavored water on hand. Whew!

    1. Wow!! South Florida....I kinda feel like I would die! I don't have much experience with beaches tho....I feel like that might be the key!! :) I love love love smoothies and bubble water with lemon is another great way to cool down and stay hydrated! Thanks for stopping by Linda :)