Moth and Toad Apothecary

Herbalism, self-sufficiency, and low-waste living

Florida Summer Prep – How to Beat the Heat

Temperatures here in Florida are on the rise; nearly everyday, the thermostat reaches 85°F. When I moved here last August, I was woefully unprepared for the heat and humidity. While St. Louis summer’s are no walk in the park, the sun hits differently here. I’ve compiled some DIYs, tips, and tricks for beating the summer heat, and hope they help you and I both survive the sweltering sauna that is Florida in the summertime.

DIYS

I recently made a post detailing two DIYs for warm weather: neck coolers and hand fans. In the post, which you can find here, I talk about creating these simple tools to help cool you down. There are many great tutorials for them online, and I linked several for each DIY in that post. In general, neck coolers are best for dry heat, as they work mainly through evaporative cooling, but a nice cold pack on your neck isn’t going to hurt, even in the insane humidity of Florida!

You can also DIY your own air conditioning unit for small areas using a cooler, a fan, and lots of ice. Although not the most sustainable solution to beating the heat, these DIY air conditioners are great for days when your A/C goes out or the heat just won’t seem to go away. This tutorial on YouTube explains how to create one for about $8. I’ve seen people create them using other materials as well, including soda bottles, milk cartons, and five gallon buckets! Get creative and see what you have lying around that may help reduce the heat lingering in your home.

Household Tips

Sunshine makes for beautiful natural lighting… and warmer interiors. By hanging curtains/tapestries over the windows in your home, you may be able to prevent extra heat from sneaking in. If you happen to have blinds, keep them tightly shut when the sun starts coming through your windows. Blackout curtains are great at preventing sunlight from entering a room, but extra sheets, blankets, and tapestries can also be affective. Light colours work best at deflecting the light away from your home. Consider adding shutters or other window treatments to areas that are very exposed to the sun. The added layer on the outside of your home can help insulate cool air and keep out warm air and sunlight.

If it’s cooler outside, open up your windows and doors. Take advantage of the natural cooling cycles in your area! Usually, the temperature drops overnight, and stays low until the sun rises. Cool down your home naturally by letting cooler air in and allowing warm air to escape. You may not find that it gets cool enough to warrant this practice every night, but do it when you’re able to! Don’t leave your windows or doors open and unlocked overnight, of course, just long enough to filter out the warmth.

On that same note, avoid opening doors and windows when it’s cooler inside, even for a short time. Cool air quickly becomes warm air with frequent trips out the door. Use draft blockers at the bottom of drafty doorways, or consider upgrading the seals on them.

Stick to one or two rooms. Close all the doors to extra rooms and stick with one or two. Don’t try to cool off the entire house if you can help it. When cooking, try to do so outdoors or use minimal heating elements. Eat cool or cold food if possible. Cooling produce such as cucumber, watermelon, and lettuce are great things to eat, as they will help keep you hydrated and cool, and don’t require any cooking. Snack on foods like peanuts, fruit, and dry goods to prevent oven use. Stoves, ovens, and other heating elements are very inefficient at using and directing all of the heat they produce, meaning most of it will end up heating your home. When you do cook, prep several meals at a time to make future trips to the kitchen shorter and produce less warmth!

Setting up a few fans is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to move stagnant air throughout a room. They also use less energy than traditional air conditioning units! While fans don’t cool down rooms like A/C does, they do help reduce how hot you feel by speeding up the evaporative cooling process. By pushing air across your skin, fans improve how quickly sweat evaporates off of your body.

For ceiling fans, you’ll want to make sure they’re set to spin counter clockwise so that air is pushed downwards and across your skin. Box fans and similar designs can be used to draw air in from cooler areas and push air out of warmer ones depending on how they’re set up. This Insider article does an excellent job explaining how this can be done, with or without air conditioning. By placing frozen water bottles or bowls of ice against the backs of fans (not completely obstructing the fan’s air flow), you can cool a room.

Dehumidifiers are very useful in humid environments like Florida! They work by cycling in humid air, removing the water from it, and putting it back out into your environment. They can be costly up front, but tend to decrease the stress load on A/C units, thereby leading to less use of electricity, and potentially decreasing the need to use it one at all. Many people prefer dry heat over humid heat, and can make better use of the evaporative cooling methods mentioned above! There are also some ways you can naturally lower the humidity levels in your home. This article by Quality Home Air Care shares some ideas to try out! They offer some great tips and tricks, and even a DIY dehumidifer solution.

Hydration

Evaporative cooling is our bodies’ natural way of staying cool. However, for this process to work properly, we need to stay hydrated. During the Summer, even when you’re indoors and not being active, hydration is incredibly important. Drink lots of water, of course, and avoid diuretic foods and drinks like coffee and tea. By eating foods with a high water content, you can boost your water intake. You also need to make sure you consume electrolytes, as sweating causes them to be depleted. You can make your own electrolyte drinks with recipes like this one, or purchase premade mixes! Whatever you choose to do, just make sure to listen to your body and be aware of how much water you consume.

It’s also worth noting that room temperature water is generally better for the body, and cools down your system faster. Cold water causes blood vessels to shrink up, and make absorption slower. To learn more about this, I suggest checking out this article by Sun Warrior.

Clothing

Linen, silk, and cotton are great natural fibers to wear during the summer. Their superior airflow allows for evaporative cooling, even with multiple layers. By avoiding synthetic fibers, you’ll find yourself much cooler in warm weather. Opt for several thinner layers over one thick layer if you’re worried about getting cold while indoors. When outside, make use of hats, visors, and umbrellas to increase the shade around you. You can also deflect some heat by wearing light colours.

At night, when sleeping, avoid long sleeves, pants, and dresses. Instead, sleep in natural fiber tanktops, shorts, or just your underwear if possible. You may find dampening your clothes before putting them on (not wetting, but simply dampening) helps lower your body temperature before bed. Some people have had success in dampening their bedsheets as well, though this tends to work best in areas with lower humidity.

These are all the tips and tricks I’ve found so far when looking for ways to stay cool in Florida’s sunny summer heat. Do you have any other tricks I may not have seen? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to try them out!

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