Things you should do now that summer has landed its heavy, clammy flipper upon the land. Includes actual advice and actual rants (on brand).
Modern Houses and You
Design of houses in Australia has always been pretty crappy, with no design for winter and all that business, but older houses can often stay cooler for longer – there are eaves over windows, high roofs, and plants all around the outside. It’s the best. Not all properties do that now, though, with modern designs focusing on form rather than function, DAMN THEM ALL.
Anyway, let’s face it, Gen Y ain’t building our own houses, so you can embrace what you’ve been given and work with it.
Official Potato Moya says:
I want to write about old Queenslanders! And how they’re great! They’re built for heat! Specifically for Queensland heat!
They are a fantastic example of architecture that works with the land, not against it, but then we started building concrete boxes that needed to be air conditioned, and that made a world in which we expect air conditioning, and now people are putting air conditioning in their old Queenslanders, which is stupid because they are designed to be bad at containing temperatures?
Like, features of Queenslanders include no insulation under floor, or anywhere else really, windows and doors that all line up to let the breeze through, big high ceilings and lots of space, room dividers and windows over doors and things that facilitate the temperature inside being generally the same as the temperature outside.
And then people are like, “Oh, air conditioning is so expensive, why are these houses so terrible?” No, people. The houses are not terrible. You are terrible.
Start early in the day
Oh. Oh! No, don’t wake up early, I would never. Prepare the night before.
Is it cool over night but warming fast after dawn? Close all the curtains but crack and/or open your windows, get that overnight chill through the house before the sun burns it off, but don’t let the early morning sun in early (hah) to turn your place into a glasshouse. Gross and warm.
(Liz, whose windows don’t currently open, is presumably suffering. Sad for Liz!)
(It is time for Liz to confess that yesterday, when she was home from work with a bad back, she switched the air-con on around 2 in the afternoon. But at a relatively high temperature! And she gets her energy from Powershop so it’s all carbon neutral! …she feels really bad.)
Anyway, before you leave for work close the windows and curtains properly, to keep it all cool for when you get home.
Don’t sleep under a doona.
If you are a person who needs the comfort of a doona, like a sheet or something, idk, I’m from Penang I can’t do that, it’s weird.
(Liz, being a Queenslander, agrees.)
For doggies: time your exercise appropriately (no walks during 12-3!); full water bowls at all times; maybe a paddle pool in the shade.
For kitties: I know those jerks engage in photosynthesis, but show your cat who’s boss. If your cat wants to charge his or her lasers with a sweet nap in the sun, that’s up to them, but make sure they have water and stuff.
Here is a video of some cats with an ice ball:
Turn shit off. This includes your aircon, sometimes.
WHAT. I know. The thing about electronics is that…they emit heat, because that’s how electricity works. And where is that heat going?
So of course turn your aircon on if you need it, but, like, maybe don’t use your lights and every computer and all that good stuff at the same time. Unplug stuff if you’re not using it, because phantom energy, boo.
(Important aside: if you’ve got an air-con, try and shade it. Just like you, it’ll overheat even more in direct sun.)
(Liz says: Oh my God, I’m going straight to Bunnings to buy a hat for the air-con.)
Bow down, get on the ground. Stay low. Etc.
AVOID CAFFEINE. SORRY. AND SUGAR.SORRY.
Electric fans only work if you’re in the room. So if you’re not in the room, it’s just producing heat.
Steph is the laziest of crafters and DIYers. It’s pretty great. So trust me when I say this is easy and okay for renters. Go to Spotlight and get, like, a big piece of material, preferably a canvas but whatever. Tie the corners with some sturdy string, and tie them to whatever you’ve got handy – the rail on your shared stairs, the front of your flyscreen, whatever. It’s a little extra shade to keep the direct sun off your door/windows, and if you’re renting you don’t have to worry about drilling and whatnot. (In particular, cover the west-facing side of your place)
If you want to make it a little less temporary, check out this sail shade DIY that is pretty easy if you have a sewing machine.
(Liz says: I am going to make a hat for my air-con.)
Throw shade part 2
Okay so maybe you are in a rental and you don’t have curtains and you can’t drill/install them. Your landlord is a jerk.
(And curtains should come under the heading of reasonable installations, and frankly, if you’re not allowed to install them, you should investigate your avenues for complaint.)
But ASIDE FROM THAT, some options: use commander hooks (or similar) to hang light curtains (such as this renter friendly valance (please note that you should put a top wall on a valance to trap rising heat in winter just fyi) or to hang the rod, yesss)
It real. It’s not just about your comfort, but also babbies and olds and other people who are more susceptible to heat and whose bodies can’t regulate so quickly. Stay cool! Stay hydrated! Drink less alcohol. (Sorry)
In some parts of Australia it is TOO LATE, but cultivate as many plants as you can. Not only does it mean you don’t have to go to the shops to buy as many things when you can’t be bothered going, but it adds shade and cool to yer place.
Defs no oven.
Change your sheets
Are you sleeping on flannel? Defs stop that business.
Oh! Turn on your fan
Did I mention that? I’m from Malaysia. Turn on your fan. Carry your hand fan with you. I have like one for every colour occasion.
And buy a hat. Daiso have some cute ones if you don’t like spending money.
How to Keep your House Cool in a Heatwave
6 thoughts on “things you should do now that summer has landed heavily upon the nation”
tips from living in far north qld:
– ice! half-fill a water bottle and freeze it in a way that doesn’t block the opening. then, when you take it out of the freezer, fill it the rest of the way. wrap it in a tea towel held on with rubber bands (or if you’ve got a FANCY DRINK BOTTLE COSY, I guess you can use that, RICH KIDS.) now you have a cold water bottle to take with you all day!
– ice! get a cup. put ice in it. take it to bed. lie there sipping little bits of ice water until you fall asleep.
– go downstairs! if you’re lucky enough to live in a queenslander the downstairs is gonna be like five to ten degrees cooler than upstairs (we measured once). go to there. be there.
tips from childhood in vic:
– evaporative cooling for cheapskates: fan blowing on you, spray bottle of water (or wet washcloth, whichevs). this doesn’t work when it’s really humid.
– same thing with the cold drink bottle those things are amazing
– if you are so hot you are nauseous, go get in a cold shower and sit very still for a while, you can actually get quite sick even if you are generally healthy if you overheat.
– seriously consider just not leaving the house
– unless it’s to go somewhere green and shady and cool
Once upon a time I lived in an appallingly bad little apartment in WA with the afternoon sun shining directly on the wall of glass (door + windows) to the balcony and had no aircon.
I used to freeze damp sheets and towels and then hang the sheets in the doorway and hang the towels on myself.
A frozen tea towel scarf can be amazing.
On super-hot days, run a bunch of face washers under the tap, then stick them in your freezer. Apply to your neck and pet as required.
I second all the flannels + fan suggestions.
On the subject of pets: if you wouldn’t walk on the hot pavement without shoes, your dog also can’t walk on the hot pavement without shoes. Spray any caged birds with water to help them cool down a bit.
Take a very quick shower to cool down (all my showers are quick because I grew up on rain water, but I’m talking about a 30 second shower).
As an aside – I’m sure my sister and I drove our housemates insane because we never would agree to having the aircon on. We didn’t grow up with an air-conditioned house; we just wandered around in our underwear a lot.
My brother lives in a place with floor to ceiling windows, venetian blinds, and no climate control at all. He learnt his first summer in there, when his cat started panting (cats should not pant) to put aluminium foil on his windows. It’s probably not fantastic for the glass, but his landlord won’t supply him with proper curtains, heating, or cooling.
I’ve also been known to damp down my top sheet and go to bed that way.
(Unfortunately, the entire world doesn’t work the way it does in Mildura.* You look at the top temperature in Mildura, and have to realise that the ACTUAL top temperature is generally several degrees higher. They take the top temperature at 3pm, when often the actual top doesn’t happen until 5 or 6pm. We used to watch the news and they’d be saying “today’s top temperature was 38. Currently, it’s 43” – and the temperature on the back veranda was more like 47.
Because things like picking season happened in the hottest months of the year, they’d change the hours. Often, they would start work at 4am and finish at 12. And everything shut down over January. Not just because of the picking, but also because of the heat.
How did we cope with heat in Mildura? Okay, evaporative aircon. It was a really dry heat. But also the damp cloths over windows, keeping the house dark and shut up on hot days, and yes, starting early and finishing early.
*Disclaimer: it’s been over 15 years since I lived in Mildura)
Wet a sarong, wrap yourself in the sarong, lie under/in front of the fan. Personal evaporative cooling plus forced inactivity.
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