Let Us Play It Cool This Summer


NOT SO HOT Keep the windows open, facilitate cross ventilation, and you can have a cooler home.

The temperatures have started soaring. It’s time to make some cool changes in order to transform your humble home into a refreshing and invigorating living space, writes Radha Prathi

Deforestation, urbanisation and erratic town planning have gotten together to make matters ‘hotter’ for us every passing year. Given that we are already sweating it out, summers ain’t going to be fun this time. But if we approach the problem methodically, it can be set right. Just like all seasons, summer can be a boon, if we choose to make hay while the sun shines and give our home its much-needed facelift. Here are some ideas to help you give a new look to your home this summer:

Time to repair

Summer is the best time to repair or renovate your home. Make a list of the little and large malfunctions around your home, which had been bothering you over the year. Fix leaky taps, cracks in the walls,  unstable switches, creaky or stuck-up doors, rusty hinges, broken latches or wobbly handles. If you are planning to add another room or extend your premises or add receptacles like drawers, cupboards and wardrobes, go ahead. This is the right season for that. Plans to replace electrical wires, installing solar heaters and rainwater harvesting systems can be ideally done during this time as there are no possibilities of untimely showers or cold drafts. Also, summer is the best season for a fresh coat of paint for your home.

Clean up

Spring cleaning the home can be therapeutic. Dispose off the clutter and make more space for yourself. A little water and soap can wash away the dust and grime collected over the last season. Put away washed or dry-cleaned winter clothing and bedding after sunning and airing them. Also, shampoo your expensive carpets and foot rugs now.

It is time to open those windows. If you have put up meshes to keep out mosquitoes, make sure that you wash them,  repair the holes or replace them if necessary
before putting them up. Also, clean up your water tank and sumps.

Apart from the logistics of maintaining the space, we can also work on cooling down our quarters. Air coolers and air conditioners can do the job for us. Yet it comes with a price, for research has shown that indoor air quality can deteriorate steadily when they are constantly used, thus affecting our wellbeing in the long run. Besides, they are heavily dependent on electricity, which happens to be scarce during this season. Here go a few practical tips to make summer cooler or, at least, more bearable.

Dash of greenery

If you have garden space, it is time to take out the hibernating furniture and the swing or that giant parasol and install them in your garden. If you happen to live in  a high-rise building, ensure that your  balcony and service verandas are well-populated with greenery. A visit to a plant nursery in your vicinity will take care of all your green needs. Watering the plants  regularly will not only help them thrive, but also bring down the temperature of the place to some extent.

If you have terracotta idols or wall-plate artefacts, they can be placed in strategic corners and walls on the exteriors of your home. You can trail creepers on them, or grow plants of the succulent variety or very simply, fill them with water. This measure will not only bring down the temperature by a notch or two, but will also prove to be a gift to your olfactory senses as they emanate an earthy odour.

Window dressing

Bring down your regular curtains and replace them with organic blinds created out of slender bamboo shoots, sarkanda grass or fragrant khus mats. Feel free to sprinkle plain or fragrant water on them when it’s hot. This option will cool down the area and will let in lots of natural light and ventilation. Post summer, they can be brought down and rolled up and wrapped in old cotton saris or dhotis and put away until the next season. Toss in a few pieces of camphor as you pack these curtains to protect them from mites. You can fix canopies on the exteriors of your windows, which will not only act as a shield from the glaring sun and dust, but will also help the potted plants placed on your window sill to survive.

For breezy indoors

Facilitate cross ventilation by keeping windows open. You could light an incense stick or two and stick them in the soil of your indoor plants. This measure will discourage insects from settling indoors, while helping a pleasant scent linger in your rooms. Fill terracotta urns and pots with fresh water or ice cubes every day and toss colourful flower petals and some basil leaves and place them around your home. They will permeate a cool, fragrant breeze. Give your cosy carpets and fancy foot rugs a much-needed rest and roll out the traditional coir, grass or bamboo mats, which will act as gentle acupressure entities, when you walk barefoot over them.

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