The heat is on, and despite the many years of triple-digit summers and smoke, we have yet to invest in air conditioning for our home. We have therefore developed some survival skills.
We manage in part because our home was designed to withstand the heat. It has next to zero solar gain, is a single-story rambler with a basement, has a white roof, and we a have strict window and door management regime. In fact, the door management issue garners harsh punishment if one leaves the door open for more than 10 seconds. It’s not pretty when a door is left ajar, but the discipline is necessary. All occupants are allowed to ridicule and impose penalties to the offender; no one is exempt from the punishment which usually involves an innocuous shaming. Kids love it when Dad is the one who doesn’t close it, relishing in the opportunity to scorn his lapse.
We have a 9-foot breezeway along the south side of the house and no south-facing windows. The rest of house has 5-foot overhangs which shade the windows all but in the end of the day and early morning. The white roof reflects sunlight and doesn’t absorb it as heat. These elements are essential to our home not baking.
This is great in the summer, not so great in the winter where our heating drives up our utility bill. But this time of year, it’s a lifesaver. Our basement is our refuge in the evening where temperature stay in the 70s.
Around the valley, summer heat is a way of life, and our abundant water bodies are a lifeline for able bodied adventurers to cool off. Everyone has a few tricks up their sleeves. Here’s some of the best ways locals tend to beat the heat even if you can’t take a plunge in the pool or lake.
- Adjust your activities and schedule. Save your outdoor chores for late evening and early morning and take a siesta during the heat of the day. This is how many hot-weathered cultures have managed the heat for centuries. Nearby orchardists begin their picking in the middle of the night, to be finished by mid-morning.
- Evaporative cooling. Neck gaiters are great way to stay cool. Soak a wet cloth in cold water and place it around your neck to increase evaporative cooling. These simple cloth wraps are an easy DIY project. Any fabric can work, an old bandana is good, or an old T-shirt. You can do this with any piece of clothing and just wear wet clothes throughout the day. At the recent swim meet in Brewster, submerging fully clothed in the Columbia River was a tactic used by many fellow Killer Whale parents to stay cool while baking on the concrete swim deck.
- Go up. If you have the freedom and flexibility to travel to higher elevations, you can find a more-pleasant temperature in the mountains. Our family rode the chairlift up the Loup Loup Ski Bowl last Sunday to find some cool air and check out their new frisbee disc golf course. The air up there was substantially cooler, and, in the shade, I almost felt a slight chill.
- Icy foot soak. Fill a hard-shell cooler with a bag of crushed ice and keep it in the house. Periodically plunge your feet into the icy mix. Keep cold beverages in there too if you like!
- Wet your roof. If you have composite or wood shingles, wetting you roof can help cool your house as evaporative cooling will lift heat from it. If water runs off, you will benefit less from this as the water needs to evaporate. Periodic sprinkling on the roof to keep it wetted is worth trying, especially if you have a dark-colored roof.
This method works so well it can be used to create refrigerators without electricity. This is trick used in developing worlds where electricity is scant. A simple box encased with black charcoal on the upper and outer surfaces is constructed. The charcoal is wetted and as it evaporates. Looks like I know what we are doing this week!