It's officially summer in the High Country... it hit the 80 degree mark inside yesterday. With summer comes a few tips for staying cool and making the most of a hot day at home (yay, school's out for summer!).
In the summer, I generally try to get up early still to make the most of the cooler morning temperatures. This is when I do any baking that needs to be done and I try to cook ahead for the evening. I use the crock pot a lot in the summer, since it doesn't heat the house up as much as the oven, and to get it ready for evening meal time, I need to get it going early in the day. For example, on Tuesday, I made a batch of turkey soup in the crock pot for friends who just had a new baby. It cooked all day and used way less energy than making it on the stove top. Yesterday, I baked a carrot cake (from scratch... used the recipe in the New Best Recipes Book from Cook's Illustrated... totally yum), early in the day so that I wasn't roasting in the afternoon. You can also keep things cool at meal time by cooking on the grill or having a no cook meal, like salad and sandwiches or antipasti (which I prefer to sandwiches, mostly).
After the baking and meal prep work is done, I move on to laundry, since I can hang this outside during the sunny day and be guaranteed that it's dry by dinner time or sooner. While the laundry goes, I might take the opportunity to work in the garden weeding or planting, so that the morning temps make it easier and the moisture from the dew helps the weed pulling go easier. I'm loving our veggie garden right now... tons of baby green tomatoes and today I spied our first baby bell pepper! (I'll post pics when I can snag Benny's phone to get some. They're so cute!)
I usually devote the afternoon to errands, since these are generally to air conditioned buildings, like the library and Post Office. When I don't have errands to run, I spend the time relaxing reading, watching a movie, or doing some other low key house thing (crafts, organizing a closet, etc.). I try to make sure the curtains are drawn during this part of the day, at least at the front of the house, so the heat of the sun doesn't pour in. (This does cut down on the natural light, but I still get plenty from the back windows.) This is also when we have the windows open wide and the ceiling fans on. We keep things this way throughout the evening until the sun starts to dip, and then the curtains open up again. We're loving the cross breeze we get with our new screen door across from the front windows and are hoping to install a screen door on the front door sometime this summer.
Summer time is also when the bed gets a makeover... the down duvet comes off and the lightweight quilt goes on. We transition from flannel or sateen sheets to cotton, and may use a lightweight blanket. This means that we can keep the window open wide and still stay warm enough when the evening chill hits, without roasting under the down comforter.
All in all, these things enable us to stay comfortable without running the air conditioning. (Although we may run it for a few weeks in August if it gets excessively hot and humid.) So, how about you? What do you do to stay cool in the summer? How do you keep those energy bills low (and save on fossil fuel use) when the mercury rises? Here's to living and saving green, even in the heat of summer!