Author: Emily Donnelly
Aussies are no strangers to scorching hot summers, but with 2014 named as the hottest year on record, we need to find ways to keep cool that don't depend upon expensive and environmentally damaging air conditioners.
Last year was the hottest year on record, with the average global temperature 0.69 degrees above the 20th century average, according to the Climate Council.
Australian Summers are Becoming Hotter and Hotter
An increasing number of people are turning to air conditioners to keep cool. But they are expensive to run and power-hungry, which in turn contributes to climate change.
One of the simplest ways to keep the house cool is to keep the curtains and blinds closed throughout the day to block direct sunlight and ambient heat getting in. If hot air has accumulated during the day, once the temperature has dropped at night, open up the windows and doors to circulate and remove the heat before the temperature rises again the next day.
During a hot summer's day it's important to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of cold water and freezing juice poppers, icy poles and fruit for snacking throughout the day. Buying a bag of ice from the service station is a good way to keep ice plentiful in the freezer (you don't want to run out of ice!). You could also get your caffeine hit by making iced tea or coffee -there is nothing more thirst quenching than an iced tea and it'll also save having to use the kettle.
Quick showers are a great way to stay cool throughout the day. However, if you live in an area with water restrictions, plan your one-minute showers so you can have two 30-second showers during the day to stay cool and refreshed. The humble fan is a cheap and effective way to keep cool as they use minimal energy to run. Team the fan up with a damp towel around the neck and your temperature will drop.
Pets and Wildlife
With the recent bushfires in South Australia and call-out for mittens and pouches for koalas and kangaroos by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, be sure to think about wildlife and household pets. During the heat of the day keep pets indoors, leave lots of water outside in the shade and cover your backyard pool. If you've got a bird bath make sure it's filled up regularly to make it easy for wildlife to cool down and if you see any animals in distress call NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) on 1300 094 737.We have all experienced that breath-catching hot air as we step outside the house, but by planning ahead for these scorching days will help limit your use of air conditioners to the times it's really necessary, which is good for your pocket and for the planet.