- Turn off the oven. Heating the oven often means heating the house, but we still have to eat, so try making meals without using your oven. Of course, summer salads are a nutritious and quick way to create a meal without cooking. Try adding non-meat protein like tofu, cooked beans and rice, tempeh, and nuts to your salad to make a healthy, satisfying and eco-friendly meal. And remember, organic produce is good for you and the planet.
- Make breakfast the night before. Use organic quick rolled oats and put in a mason jar with almond (or other) milk and add fruit and spices of your choosing, (we love apples, berries and cinnamon especially). Shake the jar and put in the refrigerator. In the morning, you'll have a ready-to-eat treat that's sure to please kids and grown-ups alike.
- Use your crock pot. We usually think of the crock pot in the winter for those warms stews and soups, however, it's a great tool for cooking a hot meal without heating the house.
- Cook outdoors. Use your grill and you won't heat up the house. Gas grills use non-renewable fossil fuels, though they get hot quickly and emit less smoke and particulate matter than charcoal or electric grills. Charcoal grills add more flavor to your food than either gas or electric grills, though they release more carbon than either type. Lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes add ground-level ozone to the air, according to the EPA. To offset those effects, use lump charcoal (produced from wood) and a charcoal chimney (instead of lighter fluid) to make your grilling practically carbon-neutral. Electric grills have the highest Green House Gas footprint, unless the electricity you're using is from a sustainable source.
- Make your own air conditioner. With a cooler, some ice, a small electric fan and duct tape, you can cool your home without central air conditioning! According to SnapGuide, a free IOS app and web service that creates and shares how-to guides, for $30 or less you can easily make an efficient air conditioner that will significantly decrease the temperature of an average-sized room. Check out the step-by-step videos: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/06/27/can-you-really-beat-the-heat-with-a-20-d-i-y-air-conditioner-we-give-it-a-try/. Even putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan can add cool air to a hot room. And you probably have those things already in your home right now.
- Keep the hot air outside! On these hot days, keeping the windows closed, especially south-facing ones will reduce solar heat gain by 40-70%. Draw the drapes for added insulation from the heat. Circulating the air inside with fans can also lower the temperature indoors.
- Cool yourself from the inside out. Focus on cooling your body, instead of the whole house, by sipping a cool drink or putting a cold cloth on your body's pulse points, like your neck and wrists.
- Get into bed. Try cotton sheets for a cooler feel; as a natural fabric, cotton breathes and retains less body heat than polyester or flannel sheets. You can also get a buckwheat pillow; buckwheat hulls have natural spaces between them and will not retain body heat like conventional pillows. Have you heard of Chillows? They are cotton, pillow-sized, American made, non-toxic cooling pads that instantly cools your skin. You can also try filling a hot water bottle and putting it in the freezer, then placing it at the foot of your bed to cool you off. Don't worry if the sheets get a little wet!
It's hot outside! And this month, we wanted to share tips on how to keep your home cool and comfortable during the peak of the summer heat. Sustainable habits are easy to develop and every little change we make for the better benefits us, our family and community and the planet.
SBS believes in the value of collaboration. Our post come from ideas and issues our team feels passionate about. We offer a combination of topical sustainability issues and applicable tips for every month of the year.