Cheap, Simple, Eco-Friendly Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

iStock
iStock

As the climate gets hotter due to global warming, people are more likely to blast their air conditioning all summer long. But this response to the problem only ends up contributing to it: Electricity, which most AC units run on, is produced by burning fossil fuels, which releases CO2 into the atmosphere and traps heat on Earth, making summers even more unbearable. At the rate things are developing, air conditioners could use as much electricity by 2050 as all of China does today.

If electric AC is your only option, you should definitely take advantage of it: Living without air conditioning not only makes your brain work slower, but it can also be life-threatening in places where temperatures reach dangerous levels. For people who can afford to explore alternative ways to beat the heat, Columbia University's Earth Institute has some eco-friendly suggestions.

A good place to start is by switching up your lifestyle. Loose, light-colored clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton won't overheat your body the way heavy, synthetic garments will. The same goes for your bed clothes: Choose sheets made from cotton, linen, percale, or bamboo. And because heat rises, the lower to the ground your bed is, the cooler you'll be at night.

When it comes to mealtimes, stick to light, cold foods like salads and avoid using your kitchen's oven or stove when possible. Though it may seem unpleasant on a hot day, eating something spicy is a quick way to cool down because it kick-starts your sweat glands.

For a cooler house with a smaller carbon footprint, take advantage of what you already have at your disposal. Close your curtains during the day to keep out heat, and open the windows on cool nights and early mornings. Switch your ceiling fan to turn counterclockwise so it pushes cool air down instead of sucking it up, and if you have a box fan, place it so it points out the window so it draws heat out of the room. Other heat-beating features that require little to no energy include awnings, reflective window coverings, and deciduous trees.

For more ways to be gentle on the environment year-round, check out these tips.

[h/t Earth Institute]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The U.S. Postal Service Is Struggling—Buying Stamps Can Help

Inclement weather doesn't stop them, but a lack of funding could.
Inclement weather doesn't stop them, but a lack of funding could.
Pope Moysuh, Unsplash

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have drastically reduced the number of advertisements and other marketing materials they’re sending to consumers—and since a considerable chunk of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) revenue comes from those large mailings, the ongoing crisis has put the organization in a tough spot.

The importance of keeping the USPS afloat goes beyond simply wanting to preserve something that’s been around since the dawn of U.S. history. As Lifehacker explains, the institution delivers mail to every single household in the nation—be it by truck, boat, or even mule—which makes it a critical method of circulating necessary documents like paychecks and voting ballots. Without the USPS, it would be difficult to reach rural residents who might not have consistent phone or internet service.

So, how can we help? The USPS doesn’t get any taxpayer funds, relying instead on the sale of stamps and various shipping supplies. In other words, the best way to put money into the pockets of our postal guardians is to stock up on stamps.

There are dozens of different designs listed on USPS’s online store, which makes this charitable endeavor an especially fun one. You can, for example, decorate your envelope with Sally Ride, Scooby-Doo, or celebrated broadcast journalist Gwen Ifill. There are plenty of fruits and flowers to choose from, too, and even a lovely illustration of Walt Whitman, complete with a very thick mustache and a very piercing gaze. And we’d be remiss not to mention the existence of this mail carrier dog costume, which only costs $18.

An American hero.USPS.com

If you’d like to go the extra mile, you can also sign a petition to save the USPS by texting “USPS” to the number 50409. A chat program called Resistbot will walk you through the steps to add your name, and it’ll even send an automated message to your senators, letting them know you’ve signed the petition and support the continued operation of the USPS. You will have to enter your name, email address, and residential address, but the whole process takes about two minutes.

[h/t Lifehacker]