Keep your Cool

As we suffer through another extra hot summer, electricity bills rise as people are running fans or air conditioners. But let’s spare a thought for those who can’t afford expensive air conditioners.  How is it that the richer person can afford solar panels to cut their electricity and the poor renter or housing commission resident doesn’t? It seems to me like the government penalises people for being poor.

I think the government should install solar panels on all social housing homes, units etc. This not only helps the government, the environment but it helps those who struggle to pay the bills a little respite. All those homes should have solar water and the panels to put the excess power back into the grid, think of the difference that will make.

All landlords, should be made to ensure that the homes they rent out are suitable for the extremes of winter and summer. Make sure there is a shade or cover just off the house, this enables people to sit outside in the cool and a cool space for kids to play, it allows for the house to cool a bit. Too many homes are built without taking into account the climate. The reason so many older homes have verandas and high ceilings what to cool down the house. How homes are like boxes, no shade and no protection from the elements around the doors or windows. It’s like we are driven to use heating and cooling systems in them, making us more vulnerable to the effects of nature, we need our homes to reflect the environment, so we can become acclimatized to the temperature around us. Yet so many go from air con house, to cool car to air-conditioned work place. I would love for the landlord to be encouraged to install solar panels on all rental properties.

We all know the tips of keeping the blinds/curtains closed when the sun is on that side of the house. Keeping curtains open at night to allow the cool air in the house. Let’s be honest this isn’t always done because we are superstitious or the house is too close to the neighbours and we don’t want them looking into our rooms. Not all homes have security and in some suburbs people, especially the aged, don’t always feel safe having windows open, in that case only open the windows of the room you are in. If you have sliding windows buy a couple of metal curtain rails, cut them to a few centre metres short of the window run and put them in. It lets you have the window open a small amount (not big enough for someone to get in) of cool air coming in the house.

Plant greenery around the house if you can, a few trees would be great, but if you can’t, and many of us can’t when renting, have a  look at shade cloth or outside blinds to keep the sun out. No shade in the yard, maybe you could buy a cheap pop up  marquee tent  for when you need to be outside, I know Aldi has them really cheap and check out secondhand ones.  You can even get a shade cloth and tie it from your house to a tree, or washing line, in fact anywhere that it is stable and can give you a bit of shade

Fans are a cheap alternative and some only cost around $10 and can last for quite a few years, just make sure you dust them down on a regular basis. With the good old fan, you can place a damp cloth over it and this allows the moisture in the air making it cooler, a cheaper alternative to the misting fans. But be aware when you do this, the rust sets in and the dust sticks to the fan. Putting a bowl of cold water and ice in front of the fan lets the fan send a cool breeze around the room. Evaporative coolers can cost about$100, it all depends on where you are looking to buy one from. They are good, always make sure you have enough water in it, don’t leave it sitting through winter with water in it. I like the ones that have an ice tray, that you can cool the air down even more. The down side is they don’t cover a big area, so don’t use it in the lounge.

Make designated cool zones in the house and around. Pick one room that is cool and in that run two fans to keep it cool all day long. In my home, I have an industrial fan in the lounge and on the really hot days, I have two smaller fans running in the room too. It keeps it cool. I run the fans from early in the day, when things are still cool, keep the front curtain shut, until the sun moves around. I have a door curtain on the front door, allowing me to have the door open and keep out the sun and stops the neighbours looking in.

Staying cool is more important that dressing to impress. If you are home in the privacy of your own home, just wear your swimmers, underwear or that sarong, let the kids run around in swimmers or underwear too. Keep washers handy to wipe the sweat of the kids to keep them feeling comfortable. Use damp washer to wipe yourself or to put on your head to feel a refreshing cool. I keep some washers in the freezer so that I can pull out some nice cold comfort. Make sure you have plenty of water in the fridge and drink lots of water. If you have little ones, set up the little pool in the shade and join the kids in the pool for some splashing. If you don’t have a pool, fill up the bath and let the kids have water play. It’s not a bad idea to just clean everything out of the bathroom and let the kids splash and play, get wet and keep cool. Put the floor mat at the door and a couple of towels there and let them go in and out, join them if you can fit in the bath. The price of water and the potential for droughts stops some people from long showers, so go back to your drought plans. Put a bucket and a couple of containers in the shower, let the kids or yourself have that cooling shower (body temperature is better for cooling down). Once you finish the shower, you have the containers of water to splash around and pour over yourself or the kids later.

If you need to have a nap, an easy way to make it nicer is to put a sheet in the freezer for a while before naptime and then spread it on top of your bed, with the fan running, you and the little ones, if you have them can have a cooler nap. I have heard of people putting your bed sheets in the freezer and making your bed before going to sleep at night, honestly who could be bothered, just do the nap trick and throw that sheet on the bed. The down side of this is the extra washing, but I have friend who lets her kids hose down the “freezer sheets” on the line and they dry off in the sun, the kids have cooled off and as she says, a good dose of sunshine kills off a lot of things. Use the hot water bottle as a cold water bottle, half fill it pop it in the freezer then put it in your bed at night. If you have the freezer blocks, they work too and the  cool wraps.

If you can afford it, buy the cooling pillows, or the breathable ones, that are good in winter and summer.  Using thicker sheets, is good for cooling and warming. Even Kmart have high thread count sheets now days, avoid the polyester or mixed fibre sheets. Lay-by one set at a time, or get family to help you buy quality sheets and pillows for each member of the family. Each of my kids have their own double bed, and I have over the years given them 1000 count sheets and have had friends help me and gift them for birthdays etc. It’s an investment in their future comfort. I know it sounds a bit like a “Glory Box”,  and I guess it is in a way, but it has helped them when leaving home, (and being young adults, coming home ).

If you can on the hottest days visit  the local library or shopping centre and enjoy the air conditioning there for free. Most libraries are really good, and have no problem with kids and families coming in and enjoying the books and the cool. I hate to say that some shopping centres don’t like people coming and escaping the heat. They want you to be buying, buying and more buying. I know a couple of shopping centres not too far from me that have very little public seating, so if you go to the shops, be warned, and stretch out your weekly grocery hunt to an all day adventure to make the most of the cool.

I hope this has helped and enjoy summer, and stay cool.

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About proudblacksista

An Aboriginal woman. mother of 4 diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 7 years ago.I want to share my story to help others. I am working to help other Aboriginal people face the battles of Cancer. Email me with your stories or concerns at aboriginalcancer.com View all posts by proudblacksista

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