In Seattle, many people don't have air conditioning. We just don't need it — the temperatures are mild most of the year, and in the summer we usually have one week of moderate heat that we manage to get through. But every couple of years or so, we get a massive heat wave. The rest of the country tends to scoff at our "heat." Many other cities and states in other areas of the country reach higher temperatures with higher humidity levels, and the Pacific Northwest tends to melt under far less pressure. However, people tend to forget my original point about the Pacific Northwest heat: we don't have air conditioning.
Therefore, we've become experts at cooling our homes when these heat waves hit hard, without the aid of air conditioning. Here are some tips for this summer, if you're living without an A/C.
1. Have at least three fans for an 800 square foot space: a box fan, a revolving fan and a desk fan. These fans travel with you throughout your home. At night, the box fan goes in a window and blows with the draft into your home. The revolving fan is on the opposite side of the room, feeding that draft, and the desk fan is for your bedroom when you sleep.
2. Create a cross-draft. If possible, open windows on opposite sides of your space during the coolest part of the day. Feed the air through your home in order to filter out unwanted heat.
3. Keep hydrated. Drink lots of water or cold treats like popsicles and smoothies. Don't forget about your pets! Put ice cubes in their water and make sure they are in the coolest areas with you throughout the day. Never leave them outside without shade and water.
4. Leave the house. When in doubt — get out! The only places that have air conditioning here are big box stores and sometimes chain movie theaters. Go see a movie or take a trip to Target.
5. Close windows, blinds and drapes during sunny part of the day, and open them up at night. This is by far the most important tip of all. Leave all of your windows and open with fans blowing at night, then as soon as the sun is up, shut your windows, blinds and drapes. Reopen around 5pm, or when outside feels cooler than inside.
6. If you're pregnant, have small children or elderly folks in the house, consider purchasing a small portable air conditioner before it even gets hot. In Seattle, it's impossible to find a fan within 60 miles when a heat wave hits. Be prepared if you're in this risky category. It will be worth it for that one week — trust me!