Here at TreeHugger we have been listing ways to beat the heat without air conditioning. However our sister site, the Mother Nature Network, has been covering the Beat the Heat Beat too, and coming up with some different ideas and suggestions:
Favorite from Chris Baskind:
Take the lead of those who spend most of their lives in tropical climates: loose, lightweight cotton and linen clothing rules. The guayabera, sometimes called the "Mexican wedding shirt," is constructed to cool you naturally. A relative of the traditional Filipino barong, the guayabera wicks moisture from the skin and is worn untucked to promote air circulation. Madras is another good summertime choice for both men's and women's clothing.
More at MNN.
This is a serious issue; it's getting harder to get a house, and more people are going to be renting. But you don't have a lot of control as a tenant and are limited in what you can do. Chris Baskind rounds up a pile of good suggestions that apply to both rental houses and apartments. My favorite is a common approach in Europe:
Spend more time outdoors or away from home. Why not soak up someone else's air conditioning? A little window shopping never hurt anyone, and it's likely there are several ice cold destinations within walking distance or a short bicycle ride from your home. While eating out is a luxury for a lot of people these days, blowing a couple hours with a frosty drink and a book someplace cool isn't a bad way to spend a sweltering summer afternoon.
This goes back to the idea of cooling with culture, not contraptions.
Chris keeps pumping up the volume, from 5 to 20 to, count'em, 33 tips for keeping cool. I don't agree with all of them, (gas appliances don't have pilot lights any more, they have piezoelectric starters) but it is a great summary. More at MNN
How to stay cool in hot weather: The basic science behind lowering your air conditioning energy bills.
This is a terrific post that explains the basic thermodynamics of how heat moves, and why it is important.
There are only two basic scientific principles that you need to know, and you’re sure to be familiar with at least one of them. The first is: heat follows cold. The second is: hot air rises. Thinking about these two rules of nature will help you see how air moves in and around your house and how that relates to cooling (and heating) efficiency.
More at MNN
Matt Hickman is a fan of these ideas for keeping cool in the Brooklyn heat.
As a renter living in a fourth-floor walk-up, home improvement projects like installing ceiling fans and replacing windows are out of the question so I thought I’d share some easy, low-tech tactics I plan on trying out to stay cool, keep my fossil fuel usage to a minimum, and, perhaps most importantly, save a few bucks as I sweat it out at home.
Kimi Harris follows some very traditional methods of keeping cool: eating outdoors, eating later in the evening like they do in much of Europe, (I laughed when she suggested "7 or later", how about 9 or 10?) . She also gets social and treats the outdoors as her living room:
If you also don’t have AC, I’ve found that eating outdoors under the shade of a tree in a preferably forest-y area is much more comfortable. One very hot day, I loaded up our lunch, snacks and lots of water, and headed to a nearby park that contained plenty of trees and shade. Not only is the shade cooling, but the type of natural plants that grew under the trees retain moisture, making it a cool place to be. We stayed there for four hours — a record for us! If you have a well-shaded backyard, then even easier! Picnics at parks, the beach or mountains can bring a welcome relief from the glare of the sun.
Finally, it's not just about you, your pet gets overheated too. Here are some very good tips, including this fascinating one:
Don’t be colorblind: Pets with dark coats tend to absorb even more of the sun’s rays. White coats also require a bit of extra sun protection. “Out West, where pets are outside a lot, white dogs and white cats get skin cancer, especially on the tips of their nose and ears due to sun exposure,” Hohenhaus says. “Some dogs love to lay on their backs in the sun, and they can get skin cancer on their tummies.”