Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Beat the Heat While Living in a Rental

The first heat wave of the season is approaching my area and I am preparing. If you live in a rental you may have less control of things that keep you cool such as: energy saving air conditioning systems, insulation of the building, and assorted repairs and maintenance that improve your ability to remain cool. I live in such a rental. The apartment is poorly maintained and poorly insulated. If I do nothing except turn down the thermostat in order to fight the heat, my utility bill jumps by over 4 times. While I am preparing for this predicted heat wave, I thought I'd review some of the ways I am able to beat the heat.

Block Out the Sunlight that Heats Your Living Area

I have been determined to find ways to take control of my utility bill despite having no control with the physical aspects of this apartment. Over the winter I discovered the YOJA thermal room darkening curtains.  I used them to keep the cold out. Now I'm using them to keep the heat out.  

The amount of energy savings from blocking the sun from the inside of your home is amazing! Before I purchased the YOJA curtains, I used a large piece of cardboard in order to test my theory that blocking the sun would be effective. It was so effective that I purchased the curtains. 

Whether you live in a rental as I do, or whether you in your own home but are focused on doing the most you can for the environment, give this experiment a try. See how much cooler your home is by darkening the windows. You can test it in just one window, with a large piece of cardboard. After a few hours of blocking the window, place your hand between the window and the light blocker you placed there and feel the difference.

Eat Light/Eat Fruit

melon slicer and corer

Eating heavy meals during a heat wave makes me feel miserable. So I turn to very light meals, cold salads such as my couscous salad, and fruit. 

Keeping a bowl of sliced fruit in the refrigerator is a handy way to have a cool meal or snack ready. Cutting fruit can be a chore, so finding ways such as Susan's pineapple slicer/corer. This kitchen gadget makes having refreshing pineapple a breeze.

There are kitchen gadgets to help slice and serve whatever fruit you choose to keep in your fridge for these heat wave days.

Strategically Placed Fans

Get to know which windows provide cooled air and which provide hot air, and the timing of those changes through the day. For example, my bedroom window is east-facing and is above a parking lot. Through the night and before sunrise, a window fan blowing air in from that window is cooling. But as the sun comes up, heat bounces off that parking lot, and allowing the fan to remain in that window is the equivalent of blowing oven air into my apartment. As the sun rises higher in the sky, the cool air comes from the opposite side of my apartment, through the balcony doors. Later, beginning early afternoon, the sun has moved and heats that balcony and the oven is on the west side of the apartment.  

During moderately hot days, just moving the fan and adjusting whether it is blowing in or out, can change the temperatures in my apartment by as much as 5 - 10 degrees. Especially in the mornings and early evenings. Clearly, during super hot days, the windows stay closed and I use the fan to circulate the air within the apartment.

Take Brief but Cool Showers or Baths

I try to remain conscious about how much water I use, but I do "rinse" off two to three times a day during the worst of the heat wave. I use chilly water. I can feel that it lowers my body temperature and I feel much more comfortable afterwards.  I also like to use my favorite peppermint soap during heat waves as it has a cooling, minty quality that is very refreshing. 

Use a Cooling Towel - They Really Cool 

What is a cooling towel? A year or two ago I found a fantastic product called a cooling towel. This cloth can be wet and wrung out and it evaporates in such a way that it feels cool to the touch.  I hang it around my neck and use it to wipe my face in order to keep cool. 

I originally purchased one for camping and hiking but found it to be extremely comforting during a very hot day when our power went out for nearly the entire day.  I now have three of these towels; one in my hiking bag, one in the apartment, and one that remains at my summer camping spot. 

cooling towel

Stay Hydrated - Drink A LOT of Water

I'm not certain that drinking water makes you feel cooler, but I am certain that during high temperatures it is important to remain hydrated for your health. I feel as though drinking fruit-infused water or mint water (I just float a couple of leaves of mint in my ice water) makes me feel cooler.  

I fully believe that having a favorite container with you at all times helps make drinking water more convenient. 

Barbara shared her favorite water container with us: the Contigo water bottle. My favorite way to ensure I drink enough water daily, and that it remains cold ice water, is to fill my Bubba tumbler with ice water after I've finished my morning iced coffee.

Whatever your favorite delivery system, water is an important way to feel better in the heat. What if you don't like the "taste" of water Using a fruit infuser is a way to improve the taste of water, if you need that help. 

fruit infusing pitcher

Beating the Heat, Saving Money, and Going Easy on the Environment

These hints are ways I beat the heat in order to save money and to increase my comfort in an apartment that I have little other control of otherwise. However, when I move into my own home, I will continue to use these means of remaining cooler while keeping the air conditioning running as little as possible - in order to decrease my impact on the earth where I am able.  

No matter your reasons for looking at an article written to beat the heat without turning the air conditioner on full blast, I hope you have found something helpful here.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Excellent tips for keeping your home and yourself cool, Dawn Rae! We have a new home, well-insulated, and even though we don't have to work as hard to keep the house cool, there is no doubt that your tip about using room-darkening curtains to keep the heat out still works. We have lots of windows and I love a sunny house, but on really hot days I close all the blinds and see a definite difference in the inside temperature. And that's just with blinds. Anyone whose apartment or house has an exposure facing "hot" would be very wise to invest in those curtains. Thanks, too, for the mention about the pineapple corer/slicer. I used mine very recently and it was so nice having bite-sized fruit ready to snack on. Perfect on a summer's day!

    1. Isn't it amazing how much difference a sunny (or a shaded) window can make in temperatures! It's astounding. I miss the sunlight too...but it's worth it to me to keep it a little cooler in here. You are very welcome. I don't eat as many pineapples as I do melons, but that pineapple corer is THE way to do it.

  2. You have offered some really great suggestions for both apartment living and homeowners! I had no idea there were cooling towels, but my husband and I both need those when we work in the yard. We carry wet hand towels out with us, but the cooling towel sounds like it would actually stay cold longer. We also put room darkening curtains in the room of our home that always stays hot and they have helped for sure. I miss the sunlight in there, but the heat is just unbearable. Would you believe I just had a fruit bowl breakfast?!! Great minds :) It is already too hot to start cooking. These are all great ideas Dawn. Thanks for the recommendations (especially those cooling towels!)

    1. Haha about the fruit for breakfast. Do you have ESP? If you get a cooling towel you'll have to let me know if you like it. I was so skeptical but it really helps. I hang one around my neck, and when it doesn't feel cool, I flip it over and it's very cool again. It's been very helpful up at The Shack.

  3. These are all useful hints. I can use them on Smart Days so I can stay home longer before retreating to the gym or library and using their air conditioning. I am very sensitive to heat.

    1. I hope you can find ways to stay cooler longer. I'm not so sensitive to the heat..but I don't deal well with humidity. I love that you go to the gym or library! I almost included the suggestion that people go to theaters or stores. Our theater is always frigid!

  4. Excellent suggestions for keeping your place cooler on these hot summer days, Dawn Rae. I'm in the same boat you are (rental apartment), so definitely found your article and suggestions helpful. Thanks so much.

  5. Thermal curtains really help! Great tips 😀

  6. Great ideas all of them. I would add that drinking peppermint tea will help you feel cool and keep you hydrated. I hate just plain water. Sunblocking curtains are wonderful as is your cooling cloth. I used one when I was gardening and it really does the trick. Thanks Dawn Rae, this is a great list.

  7. Great tips, I also freeze some fruit not just keep them in the refrigerator - grapes in particular are delicious, like little pops of ice cream in your mouth! Watermelon helps as it's full of electrolytes so I love popping frozen watermelon into a big glass of water (or jug) along with some sprigs of mint to sip on throughout the day.

  8. all excellent ideas - we find ice packs are great, wrapped in a cloth and then put anywhere you need it - behind the head on the neck is a nice spot


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