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5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Stay Cool in the Blazing Summer Heat

With this year's record-breaking temperatures, learning how to stay cool in the summer heat is a must. Here's how to do so sustainably.

Written by
Kristine Nguyen

You may have heard about (or are currently dealing with) the record-breaking temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. Temps are as high as 116°F in Portland and 108°F in Seattle—events scientists say will only become more common due to global warming. So it goes without saying that searching for ways to beat the summer heat is a must.

Though air conditioning is a convenient way to cool down, it's not the most eco-friendly option. According to the Climate Institute, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) is the primary refrigerant used in air conditioning units. HFCs are very potent greenhouse gases, even more so than carbon dioxide. The more we use air conditioning to cool down, the more it may be causing the planet to warm up. Ironic, isn't it?

While turning up the AC is completely necessary during times like this in order to keep yourself safe from the heat (those high temps are dangerous for humans and animals), there are some other ways you can cool down, too.

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

1. Dress Light

When you're dealing with hot summer days, comfort is key. Now's the time to bust out those tank tops, dresses, and shorts you've been waiting all year to wear. Choosing the right fabric is also important. Opt for cool, lightweight materials that are made for the summer heat. The Cleveland Clinic recommends loose organic cotton clothing. Linen is also a great option, as it's super breathable.

2. Keep Your Curtains Closed

You may think opening your curtains would make your home cooler, but it's often the opposite. Experts say keeping your curtains and windows closed during the day typically feels better than opening everything up. If the temperature drops in the evening or overnight, that's when to open everything back up and air out your home.

The color of your curtains also plays a role. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, past studies have found medium-colored curtains can reduce heat gains by 33 percent. So if you've been thinking of upgrading, now's the time.

3. Make a DIY Ice Pack

Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer's day than an ice-cold drink. On top of the many iced lemonades you'll already be guzzling down, there's another simple way to stay cool. If you have reusable silicone bags on hand (like Stasher bags), fill them up with water and freeze them for a DIY ice pack you can place on your forehead or the back of your neck.

4. Bring Out the Fans

Fans are one of the most energy-efficient ways to beat the summer heat and require a lot less energy than running an air conditioner. Here's a pro tip to keep in mind, though.

If you're considering putting a fan in the window or using the fan setting on a window air conditioner, you might want to think twice. According to NBC News, if it's hotter outside than it is in your home, you'll only be bringing more hot air inside.

5. Have a Beach or Pool Day

It doesn't get more summery than this. Pack your towels, sunglasses, and sunscreen and head for the water. Nothing will cool you down quicker than a dip in the pool or catching a wave at the beach. No access to a beach or pool? No worries. You can also run a cool bath. To save water, try not to fill the tub up all the way.