Photo Credit: Jewish Press

While it seems as if summer is far away with the weather in New York still in the 50s-60s, rest assured the heat will come. And when it does, I know many of you will turn to your air conditioner for some relief, along with the accompanying recycled air and high electricity bills.

I prefer to avoid using the air conditioner as least as much as I can get away with, but with other people living in my house, I do have to be a little flexible. Incidentally, I also prefer not use my heater, but that is for a different article.


One summer, I managed to go the entire season without an air conditioner in my bedroom.

Here are some handy tips:

A ceiling fan is the best investment you can make. It cools off a large part of the room much better than a standing fan can.

Nothing cools me off after a run in the steamy New York streets than a cold shower. I recommend taking cold showers in the morning as well as in the evening, making sure your hair is wet. It isn’t necessary to shampoo your hair twice a day, just make sure it’s wet. It is hard to get into a cold shower, so the trick is to start it off lukewarm, and slowly lessen the hot water until it is cold. Your body temperature will plunge down, I promise.

When you can’t shower, but have become very hot from your daily activities, try running cold water over your pulse points – wrists, neck, behind your knees, and behind your ears – for a quick cooling effect. You can also wrap ice cubes in a towel and place it on your neck.

A freezer filled with ices and ice cubes is a must. You can either make your own ices in cups, with half juice and half water, or simply stock up on ices when they go on sale. It doesn’t matter what it tastes like, just that it’s cold. You also want to make sure you always have a good supply of ice cubes, so if you don’t have an icemaker in your fridge, fill up ice cube trays, and then once the cubes are frozen, store the cubes in a container, and make more.

To make sure you always have cold water to drink, keep half-filled water bottles in the freezer, frozen standing up, not sideways, so you can open the bottle and add water to it.

Avoid creating heat! Run the dishwasher when you aren’t the kitchen, use the dryer at night, and heat food in a microwave instead of the oven when possible. Prepare your morning coffee the evening before so you don’t heat the kitchen in the morning. Of course, your coffee should be iced to give you the maximum cooling effect, with the added bonus of caffeine.

Fruits and melons can get very cold in the fridge and are extremely refreshing after a long day. Chop up some fruit in the morning and enjoy a chilled snack later in the day.

Finally, there is homemade ice cream. We’ve all made pareve ice cream out of dessert topping, but for just a few dollars, you can purchase an ice cream maker and make delicious homemade ice cream whenever you please, for a fraction of the cost of store-bought – and it tastes so much better.

Stay chilled and cool!


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Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at [email protected].