When the hot weather rolls in and the kids complain about the air conditioning, there’s always some concern about the cost of your next electricity bill. It’s unfortunate that so many people’s first thoughts are about money when we would all love nothing more than just sitting in front of the icy air conditioner.
It can be hard to juggle heating and cooling expenses. Energy bills can jump up quickly when you’re using extra electricity or gas during those extremely hot or cold days.
Over the years I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for dealing with the temperature, and I’m happy to share them. They help keep the family happy without always turning to heating and cooling. So here are some of the tips I’ve got for keeping cool – and warm – at home.
Sweet Drinks in Summer and Hot Drinks in Winter
If you can keep your family happy with the perfect drink for the conditions, you’re on the right track. In summer, cool drinks provide refreshment, while in winter you want heart-warming beverages.
Apart from a cool glass of water with ice, some great summer drinks include fresh juice, homemade iced tea, coconut water and smoothies. They’re healthy, tasty and easy to make. As a treat, you can always indulge in iced chocolate or iced coffee. Even the “spider” drink makes a comeback in my home, and unlike the arachnid this beverage receives a reception as warm as the weather. Nothing beats vanilla ice cream and a bit of your favourite soda and the kids love it as a novelty treat.
Winter is all about hot tea and coffee. The kids enjoy some herbal or fruity flavoured teas, rather than the traditional offerings like Earl Grey. Hot chocolate is the perfect late night treat, as is warm milk and honey before bed time.
Embrace Seasonal Dishes
Moving from the topic of seasonal drinks, you can also choose food that suits the season. The hot months are all about hydrating foods. Kids will benefit from refreshing snacks like watermelon, strawberry, orange, mango and cucumber. Fresh veggies are always a go to, as is yoghurt, homemade frozen treats and jelly.
For some additional flavouring you can add lime, lemon or mint to drinks or salads for adults. Mint and peppermint deliver natural cooling; they’re perfect.
Winter is when you change to the heart-warming foods like stews, soups and casseroles. You want something that fills your belly and keeps you toasty warm. If your kids are happy to experiment, try fish, pumpkin, sweet potato or cauliflower. Hearty vegetables are filling and can be roasted as a delicious meal or snack with some dip. They’re pretty easy to sneak into pasta dishes, too!
Cool Compress Your Pulse Points
Something as simple as a cold towel around the neck can really help your body cool down in summer. A cold flannel or ice pack on key pulse points like the wrists, back of the neck and behind the knees is very handy.
Why? That’s where your veins are closest to the skin’s surface. A cold flannel can quickly bring your body temperature down. You can also use this as an educational lesson for the kids, highlighting just how the body works. How’s that for a summer cooling hack!
Portable Fans and Icy Breezes
I’m sure we all have stories about when we first moved out of my home. That first shared rental house that had a lone box air conditioner in the living room, and bedrooms that had nothing but the portable fans your housemates bought to try and battle the sweltering summer heat.
Things have changed these days. Most homes now have some type of window mounted, split system, or ducted air conditioner. This is still something that feels like an absolute luxury on those extremely hot (or cold) days. It’s important that you always make sure to look after it and treat it with care, and the team at Metropolitan Air Conditioning advises it should be serviced every year for reliable performance and longevity.
However, even with air conditioning, you can still enjoy one of the oldest tricks in the book; a bowl of ice and a fan. If you place a bowl of ice in front of a portable fan it will spread the chilled air around the room. It works best in smaller rooms as an effortless and affordable way to cool the air around you. The ice is a far better option than just moving hot air around the room like a portable fan normally does.
Take Advantage of Sunlight and Shade
It’s good to get the whole family into habits that help with natural heating and cooling. For example, you can ask the kids to not only make their beds, but to open the blinds in the morning throughout winter. Even the smallest glimmer of sunlight will seep through and provide some additional warmth.
In summer it’s the opposite. If you keep the blinds down on extra hot days, it means you can keep the air conditioning off for a touch longer than usual without feeling hot and sweaty.
Cook Up a Storm – Wisely
We talked about using the kitchen to cool down, but now to finish up, let’s take a look at how you can really heat things up. Cooking! Regardless of what’s for dinner, be wise with how you cook to the conditions. Using the oven in summer uncomfortably heats up your kitchen. But on a cold winter night? Perfection! Nothing better than a roast followed by a freshly baked crumble.
The BBQ is a regular sight in summer as cooking outside makes for a good chance to enjoy the great weather conditions. The slow cooker and air fryer are fairly good all year round as they can suit almost any conditions. Neither appliance creates much heat and they are low maintenance.
So, if you’re planning this week’s meals, double check the weather forecast as well as your list of ingredients. It can help you plan out what to cook so the family can benefit from any extra heating – or avoid it.