The Heat is On

curtains_photo by alex eflon

After our #Chiberia winter, it seems likely that we’re facing a #Chihara summer. So here’s some much-needed advice for how to use décor to cool off your apartment.

Treat Your Windows

Let’s call it like it is. Unless there is a sweet cool breeze blowing, it is best to keep your windows closed and covered. Stop those heat rays from penetrating your place by using heavy or black-out curtains.

Can’t live without sunshine in your home? An arguably brilliant contributor to, Regina Yunghans, wrote that you should “live like you’re sailing.” For me, that’s basically like saying you should live like you’re on the moon. But she explained in words I could understand: “By shading the east side of the house in the morning and the west side in the afternoon, the interior remains cool and comfortable… East shades are shut at night before bedtime so they’re ready and waiting to block the early eastern sun. West shades are shut and east are opened just after noon, as the sun begins its descent in the western sky.”

Even if you’re out and about all day, you can still keep your home cool. Yunghans suggests only opening window coverings on the east or north side of your space for indirect (i.e., not-so-hot) sunlight.

A/C Hacks

Use your A/C efficiently—buying an Energy Star unit isn’t enough. Turn on your A/C at a lower setting, then power up an oscillating fan to circulate the air. The A/C acts as a dehumidifier and makes it a lot cooler, while the air is recirculated using the fan instead of using the A/C to accomplish this. Can’t bear looking at those accordion side panels or the ugly plywood you had to use to get your A/C to fit in your awkward shaped window? Dress them up with tiles, linoleum, or taut fabric. If there’s anything I’ve learned from DIY home décor, it’s that you don’t have to settle for ugly or awkward!

Then there’s the old ice water and fan trick: stick a bowl of ice water in front of a fan to help circulate the cooler air. Step it up a notch with a fan blowing into a Styrofoam cooler. Fill the cooler with ice (or ice packs for easier cleanup). Then, set up the fan to blow directly into it (without falling in, of course). Cut out a few vent holes in your direction and you’re good to go.

Porch Oasis

If you’ve got some outdoor space to spare, consider investing in a kiddie pool. Fill it with water and ice cubes (optional) and submerge your little piggies. Enjoy the instant cooling sensation. To take your personal cooling comfort to another level, utilize a washcloth or rag. Soak it in water, wring it out, arch into a “U” shape, and stick in the freezer. Once the cloth is frozen, take it out and wrap it around your neck. The cool feeling will spread to the rest of the body quickly; this is a great tip for chilling out before bed. Drinking cold water, taking a cold shower, and avoiding using the oven are somewhat obvious but nonetheless effective ways to keep your temperature down.

No matter how you do it, beating the heat in Chicago (#Chihara) is essential. If you set up your apartment to keep cool, you’re bound to find a way enjoy all of the perks that come with summer in the city… instead of sweating the small stuff.

By Meridian Herman Lupu

Photo by Alex Eflon