With summer comes pool fun, grilling hamburgers, picnics, and of course, summer heat.
Here’s some ways to make that heat a lot less miserable, and more enjoyable.
Check out these methods to save money on summer cooling, as well as making your family healthier.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links that give us a small commission at no cost to you. See the Disclosures page for more info.
Use a living green mulch & ground moisture to help mitigate soil heating.
I suggest a thick, multi-species ground cover from a place like greencoverseed.com.
A family company from Bladen, Nebraska, they offer a custom seed blends at very reasonable prices. I’ve been quite satisfied with their products and prices.
If you prevent the ground from drying out fully, it keeps the heat down.
It’s much harder for the sun to heat up the soil around your house if it’s damp and covered.
Also consider shade cloth. If, like us, you have a house with a south-facing exposure and lots of windows, shade cloth can really help.
A good idea here installing 70% or more shade cloth for the south and west side of the house.
This helps by keeping the sun off the walls and windows, so it’s less taxing on your AC or swamp cooler.
This should only cost $200-$300 or so, depending on house size. I’d bet it would make a significant dent in your power bill.
It also creates a nice shaded outdoor space to enjoy. Add a fan or misters for even more enjoyment. Speaking of which…
Did you know you can not only drink water to keep you cool, but also mist yourself?
It’s evaporative cooling – like a swamp cooler – but less contained.
You should make sure to drink plenty of water as well. Staying hydrated keeps your body cooler and prevents injuries like heat cramps and heat stroke.
Since water has a great ability to store heat, getting into water can also provide a lot of relief. Even just putting just your feet in a small kiddie pool feels great on a hot day.
Plan outside work so that you’re performing it in the cooler evenings/nights or early mornings, especially heavy labor.
Try finishing by 10AM (or as late as you want to work), then resume an hour or two before the sun goes down.
If possible, move your work into the shade or indoors.
Consider what people traditionally wore in the Middle East. Long flowing garments, usually light-colored, made of cotton or linen were (and still are) very common.
Why? It keeps the sun off you, sand from getting all over you, and allows sweat to evaporate.
So I suggest light-colored clothes that wick away sweat so it can evaporate.
You may consider stripping down as much as (legally) possible, but that probably isn’t the best option.
Instead of a tank top or short sleeves, consider long sleeves covering your arms.
Especially with modern fabrics, since it blocks sun, “sun shirt“-style clothing with long sleeves keep you cooler even than short sleeves.
They can also protect from sun- and wind-burn, and additionally some have a UV protection rating for UVA and UVB.
Make sure to add a wide-brimmed hat, to keep more sun off your neck and shoulders.
Speaking of (red)neck, putting a wet cloth (or super-cooling device) on your neck will help you deal with the heat.
Since you’ll be spending more time inside when it’s hot, let’s look at how you can make summer more tolerable in your home.
Use ceiling fans and box fans for air circulation. Moving air will keep you cooler, unless the air is hotter than you!
If using A/C or a swamp cooler, you can use the box fans to push cooler air further throughout the house.
Evaporative (swamp) cooling uses less power than A/C, if your climate and humidity levels allow it. Make sure to crack a window a little, far away from the cooler unit.
This keeps cool air moving through the house.
You can use natural convection cooling by opening low windows on one side of your house and high windows on the opposite side.
This draws hot air up and out of the house, pulling in fresh cooler air.
Extending this principle, you could go with earth tubes. This technique is sometimes called “ground coupled” or “earth-air heat exchanger,” and there are more names that are quite similar.
Make sure to check out this article on houses before A/C. It has tips on different ways to handle summer heat, based on older house design, which I’ll expand on below.
Thermal mass can store cool as well as heat. Make sure to insulate this mass, protect it from summer solar gain and ensure it’s accessible inside the house.
Thick walls serve as good insulation, and can also be thermal mass if you so choose.
Make sure to have good airflow. Many older houses had turrets, towers or high dormers or wind scoops.
These helped to channel the air and increase airflow through the house, and were oriented to the prevailing summer wind.
Big windows and overhangs/porches serve to allow good airflow, but block summer sun from entering the house through windows.
Another idea is to cook outside. Many homes from the last century has outdoor kitchens. This was especially important for summer canning and preserving when you would be boiling/cooking something for a long time.
Out of home design fashion now, a traditional sleeping porch let your family rest in a screened-in area that allows good airflow. This was usually cooler than inside the house, and a bit like camping indoors.
Some Amish handle the summer by essentially moving life to the basement with its earth constant temperatures.
They may have separate sleeping and cooking places for summer and the rest of the year.
Not pretty (but inexpensive and effective), tin foil on windows can reflect summer’s hot sun rays and help keep the house cooler.
Also add shades and blinds on windows and glass doors to keep the sun from heating up the inside of the house.
As one last idea, set up a drip or small sprinkler system to spray water on your roof. Adjust the flow so the water just evaporates at the roof edge.
I can vouch for the effectiveness of this method. Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea if you have a leaking roof, because that’s how we found out ours did. Oops.
Use shade, water, proper clothing and timing, as well as house building techniques and management methods to help keep your family cool in the summer heat.
OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about dealing with summer heat, sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
FREE Lazy Gardener's Guide to Homestead Management
What to plan, do, and buy each month to keep your sustainable homestead on track.
Never forget important tasks again, and get lots of stuff done!
And you get our latest content by email. We usually publish new stuff twice a week.