By on June 30, 2021

Wild Jack Photography/Shutterstock.com

It’s hot almost everywhere in this country right now.

Air conditioners are straining. The words “heat dome” are in the news. Climate change is being discussed.

We’re going to ask you, the B and B, a question that can be answered without relating to cars — how do you beat the heat?

Do you crank the A/C in your car, maybe on recirc? Sunroof open but windows up and A/C on? Windows down, even if you have A/C? Or have you bought a convertible?

While we’d like to keep this related to cars, feel free to tell us how you keep cool at home, too. I’m making my two window units work, and they work reasonably well, but they don’t cover the whole place — the kitchen and bathroom aren’t nearly as cool as the living and dining rooms and (thank God) the bedroom.

Still, sometimes I wish I lived in a newer building with central air.

Anyway, tell us how you’re staying cool. Hopefully reading TTAC is part of the deal.

[Image: Wild Jack Photography/Shutterstock.com]

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68 Comments on “QOTD: Beating the Heat...”


  • avatar
    Flipper35

    If you have a central heating unit/forced air furnace you can turn the fan to “on” to even the temps out, assuming the window units can keep up.

    Our cars all have good A/C units so windows up since i hate the noise with the windows down. Dual sport bikes and a roadster can help with making your own breeze as well and no, topless isn’t the same noise as windows down.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Driving country backroads with a good tree canopy helps too – assuming you live in a place with trees.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I’m fortunate that there are a dozen or so lakes within 30 km of my house and 2 major rivers. I’ve had to range out to the more rustic spots since the nicer locations fill up with people. I’ve been taking my poor suffering Newfoundland dog out every day. She even rests her face on my AC vents.

        I don’t have AC in my house. I button it up during the day and air it out at night. It helps.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Pool Party !

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    I’m installing an electric cooling fan on my GT6 this week. Does that count?
    (for cooling the engine, not the driver)

  • avatar
    NigelShiftright

    Blackout drapes on the windows of your house with the main sun exposure help get the most out of your A/C. Since we put them in, our summer power bill has dropped about $35-$40 a month.

    Lightweight bedsheets make a difference too.

    • 0 avatar

      Blinds closed during the day if you don’t have drapes!

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      We installed new forced air furnace and Central AC (multistage with smart blower only for AC). Replaced units that came with the house when we bought it and were about 30 years old. We crank the AC down 68 degrees and my bills are still way lower than they were in years past, have to put on more cloths because it is so cold inside….love it. Didn’t really love spending $10k on the system, but will pay for itself in long run I suppose.

      We have windows with the reflective blinds built right in between the panes and they work wonders for keeping heat out from sun.

      As far as cars go, keep it at 60 degrees on fan speed one or two. I hate listening to blower motors on high speed, typically will only use the AC in car when it is really humid, I can handle the heat with low humidity by cracking some windows or sunroof.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      @NigelShiftright, I tinted some SE facing residential windows in a house I lived in and it helped a fair bit.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    I just wanna come here for a few minutes of escapism to learn about, hear others discuss, cars, to escape the turds of American political discourse.

    Guess this site has to be about political narratives every day too.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      If you can’t even acknowledge that much of the US and Canada has been facing historic heat waves without getting defensive politically…. well, I guess you’re going to be suffering though plenty of political news and posts from now on. This story isn’t arguing over why it’s hot, but what to do to cope. How are your coping skills, beyond denial?

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      How, pray tell, was this political?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Tim:

        I agree, the guy’s overreacting, but you did mention the magic words “climate change.” We both know where it goes from there…

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          “climate change” needs to be uttered alongside a trigger alert for the snowflakes these days.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            The pattern is common – a hot summer and the left of center news cycle brings up the topic repeatedly. A cold, snow winter? Right wing media uses that as an opportunity to highlight those temps as a reason why climate change is nonsense. Of course intelligent people realize that one or two hot/cold seasons is irrelevant when it comes to climate patterns. And a small amount of research shows the last time the planet overall was cooler than average was 1976. So, its easy to see where the science leads you…

            For A/C systems, I decided to install an air cooled small chiller and pipe chilled water to fan coil units hidden inside the house. This prevented the huge space requirements of adding duct work and allowed me to keep the hot water cast iron radiators for heating. Operation costs are really low as the unit has a staggeringly high COP and SEER. Only radiant heat can truly claim to be better than hot water and iron radiators….those lightweight tin baseboards suck and you cant use a condensing gas furnace with them. The only negative is the cost associated with the chilled water piping. I used 1″ copper instead of PEX for a more professional installed look – the basement ceiling looks like what you would find in a commercial building. Cost for materials was over 10K with a friend doing the sizing of the units and me doing all the installation work…

        • 0 avatar
          JD-Shifty

          cleaning up the air and water doesn’t have any downsides. Climate change deniers are just haters.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            We do what we got to do but along with some other austerity proposals I feel like this is a downside.

            motor1.com/news/487584/mercedes-amg-c63-
            four-cylinder/

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Actually, yes, cleaning up the air and water does have downsides. It means that the fossil fuel industry will either a) go out of business or b) get a lot less profitable.

            They’re the ones funding the “climate change is a myth” storyline.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            c. return to the 19th Century.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Triggered!

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      The people that want to say they follow the “science”, never seem to actually study the science.

      The scientific consensus of global warming is around 1 degree celsius increase TOTAL since 1880. And that’s a leap to blame ALL of that on man made carbon emissions. The Earth went into an Ice Age and warmed out of an Ice Age without man made carbon emissions.
      https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/global-temperatures

      I’m sure I will be blasted as a “denier” for actually linking NASA studies on the matter.

      So when people say the really hot summer is because of global warming, the Earth is around 1 degree warmer than it was over a hundred years ago if we take the “science” at face value. To say anything besides that is a fairy tale. Heat waves happened before cars and power plants, I assure you.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Crosley:
        “The scientific consensus of global warming is around 1 degree celsius increase TOTAL since 1880.”

        OK… one degree celsius equals about 34 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a pretty significant change. Are you sure the study was done with the metric system?

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          One degree Celsius on a thermometer is equal to 34 Fahrenheit. An increase of one Celsius degree, e.g. going from 25 to 26 is not an increase of 34 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be an increase from 77 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Thanks for the clarification. But if global temps increase two degrees, there’s a whole range of nasty side effects.

            https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2878/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Actually, Denver had its’ turn in the super-hot sweepstakes a couple of weeks ago. Weather here is pretty typical of summers – high ’80s, sunny, not much humidity, and a daily thunderstorm around 3 pm.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Drove 400 miles yesterday with a BMW wagon full with wife and big dog, plus the trunk full of odds and ends (yard sale scores, hand-me downs from in-laws, etc). It was consistently 93+ fahrenheit, with the exception of three torrential downpours around Syracuse the kind of which the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with (thankfully riding on brand new DSW06 plus). Seven hours, for most of which I had the cruise somewhere between 84 and 88 mph. Car kept us cool with nary a complaint. kept at 66f for both of us, fan at min. It’s nearly ten years old and it has 125k miles already. A day to marvel at modern engineering.

    The PT Cruiser on the other hand… my dog and I drive “al fresco” with windows down and wind in our hair. A/C is weak. I’ll have it recharged with the next oil change, see if that’s all there is to it.

    • 0 avatar

      Non-RAM ChryCo products have long had poor air conditioning. That PT probably has old Mitsubishi components in the AC.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        Hey Corey, do you think it has any hope with a recharge, or money down the drain? It’s a 2003, so basically ancient. For what it is – the doggie / mulch / construction car of the household – the A/C is not a deal breaker, just nice to have.

        • 0 avatar

          If it needs a recharge that means it’s leaking somewhere, so just delaying the inevitable. I’d have it properly looked at by a shop if it’s important enough, or else let it be broken.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes have it recharged, it is worth it assuming it is still working at all. Yes there is a leak but if it took 18 years to get to this point, with a proper recharge you’ll be good for several more years.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            Right on. Thanks to both of you.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            For those with older cars that straddled the change from R12 to 134a, you can see performance issues. Example – my 95 Probe really was released in 1993 with R12. Friend’s 93 has A/C that works well. For my MY, they changed the needed components to work with the new refrigerant and lubrication oil, but left the evaporator and condenser coils the same size. So, in traffic, or any low-engine RPM conditions I loose cooling performance. His car never did. When cars were outright redesigned, then they got the added space for the bigger coils….

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I tried to charge my Pontiac earlier in the year to no avail. My mechanic using a professional grade system was able to successfully charge it and its been working well. If you car is bone dry the $30 A/C fixer bottle may not be enough.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Corey, I hear that from people, but in El Centro (low altitude hot 120* desert area) our Durango did fine, our Intrepid did fine. All of my parent’s minivans have cooled very well other than their first 1984 with the 2.2l.

        Our daughter will drive our 2000 Durango over the 2013 Rogue in the summer because it cools quicker. Our 2014 Avenger sedan and 2018 Pacifica minivan both will freeze you out in short time. The A/C works just fine in humid 100* Midwest heat where the Nissan struggles.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      golden2husky, that is an interesting theory, seemingly in line with my experience. it idles worse with the AC full on, so I turn it on lightly in the beginning. And while I drive around town I’ve gotten very deft at coasting, so low RPM (stick shift; last tank got 30 mpg overall). But When I drive to the next town over, cruise at 65, it cools better. So drive aggressively to be able to cool off?!? Quite the predicament.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    I live in the Deep South. It’s the humidity that hits hard and makes life unbearable.

    Central air & heat became the strand in new home construction by the early 60’s. Retro fitting an older home with central air is not that unusual. Window units are only so strong.

    As for the purchase of a used car, the first question is “Does the A/C work?”. A negative response is a deal breaker unless you want it as a parts car.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, St. Louis native here, and it’s the damn humidity that makes things miserable. Plus, the temps don’t drop by very much at night.

      Here in Denver, the temps go down 20-25 degrees at night, and it starts right at sundown. That helps immensely. You can actually live without A/C here – not that I’d want to, but you can. Not so where I grew up, or anywhere south of there.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Just because the AC doesn’t work doesn’t mean the vehicle is a parts car. AC can be fixed and frequently it isn’t that expensive. One of the most common leaks I saw back in the day was the service valves which are a few dollars per and there are only two. Additionally many compressors use ceramic front seals that leak once the oil drips down from lack of use so a recharge and regular use and they will be good to go for many more years.

  • avatar
    SearMizok

    The feature I love most on a stinkin hot day was on a Honda Accord I had, I think some Hondas still have it, where you press the “UnLock” on the remote, then press a 2nd time, and hold the UnLock down, and it automagically puts all four windows down as you’re walking up to the car. LOVED IT!!!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My old Audi had that too, plus it popped the sunroof open. The car was black with black leather seats, so that was a helluva feature.

      • 0 avatar

        My Golf claims to have this windows down feature.
        And it’s in the screen menu.

        But VW didn’t implement in US Golfs, just other markets. You can turn it on with a VAG-COM.

        Infiniti has had the feature since the 90s, and the GS does as well. In the past you could do it with the key in the door (I30, 90S).

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @corey:

          Hmmmm…that’s weird, I know it’s a feature on the GTI and Jetta GLIs I test drove and I know it works because the salesman demonstrated it.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I tried to research how I’d make it work properly but everything online said you need a computer edit.

            I think they forgot to implement it, frankly.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Maybe they were trying to minimize the impact on the sunroof.

          • 0 avatar
            theflyersfan

            @FreedMike and @Corey –

            Just tested on my GLI. The option is there, buried in the settings menu, but doesn’t work with the unlock button on the proximity key. I just read that it’s turned off in the US for “pinch protection.” But the windows are going down, not up…sigh…

            And I think Corey’s Golf shares the same infotainment setup (6.5″ screen with hard buttons, not the upgraded one in the Autobahn package) so I think we were looking in the right place.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Lexus had that when I was a dealership employee in the Aughts. And I believe most Toyotas had it then, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      My Mini had that, opened the sunroof too. Very nice.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      My 2004 TSX did this and it was awesome.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    It’s currently 93 degrees with 54% humidity in my Northern VA suburb. So, honestly not as bad as it could be.
    In my house I sit in the lower level which always stays cool since the thermostat is upstairs. In the rest of the house, I’ve closed the curtains and run the ceiling fans in every room.

    As for the cars, I have covers for both my outdoor cars and since I don’t drive them they stay under those. It definitely helps keep the internal temperatures down and helps prevent the plastic and leather from baking. I don’t think they prevent as much paint damage as I would like, and possibly cause some when the wind picks up.

    Having central air helps in the house. It doesn’t take long for the house to heat up if the capacitor in the AC pops. Fortunately after 2 episodes I have one on hand as a spare at all times now.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I hate the heat, and mid-atlantic humidity.

    Car: I have tinted windows that are technically illegal in my state because I got them in another state with a medical waiver and got exhausted with the new state’s process. On the rear windows I have the little baby screens also. When parked, I try to face the windshield away from the sun, parking in shade whenever possible, and predicting where shade will be when I return to my car. I use a folding windshield sun screen, and crack each of my windows plus pop up the sunroof with the shade closed. I have a USB powered fan that clamps on a vent like a cell phone mount, I love it.

    Home: I have fans to keep the air moving, and also run dehumidifiers because my condo’s fan-coil chiller type system doesn’t remove humidity like a typical A/C system does. I only sleep with a light cotton bedspread in summer. I have good light blocking window treatments.

    Work: Lucky to be near a window but it has good blinds. Have a small desktop oscillating fan. Work HVAC is terrible. Yesterday I wore shorts to the office.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Drove from Oregon to Tacoma and back on Saturday, the day before Heatageddon hit. Only got up to 105. Surprisingly, the AC in my 13 year old Scion handled it easily, only had the fan up to its second-lowest speed. I remember when Japanese AC was something of a joke.

    If I’m not on the highway I put the windows down and run the AC until it starts blowing cold, then shut it off and let fresh air blow through the vents. Doesn’t get very humid here so that works well enough. Before getting in the car, open all the doors and pop the hatch, cools the car down significantly.

    At home I had one of those small pools with an inflatable ring around the top. Worked great for a quick cool off…until my cats decided they needed to stick their claws in the inflated ring. *sigh*

  • avatar
    dal20402

    We just came out the other end of the heat dome. This is Seattle, so almost nobody’s house is air-conditioned (you’ll see a 44% number for the metro, but most of those are newer houses out in the burbs). It suuuuuuuucked.

    We put black plastic over the windows in the house and it helped substantially, but there’s only so much you can do when the outside temperature is 108 and the sun is beating down on your roof. We did have the furnace fan on, which helped get some of the cooler air from the basement into the main part of the house, but in-house temperatures peaked at 102. Drink lots of water, dunk the cat in water every few hours (which she didn’t even really mind), and don’t move too much.

    We’ll be replacing our gas furnace with an electric heat pump as part of our renovation/rebuild this year, so I hope by the time this happens next summer we’ll have A/C in the house.

    In the car, ceramic tint really helps, but modern A/C tends to be effortless anyway. Neither the Bolt nor the Highlander had the slightest trouble keeping the interior cool in 100+ exterior temps. We drove a few places we didn’t really need to because the car was the most comfortable place to be.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…in-house temperatures peaked at 102.”

      Sounds like a good excuse to go hit the Residence Inn for a couple of days.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Thankfully the dome has broken and I’m sitting in a house that is delightful at 71.

      You beat me for the peak we saw 95 in the upper floor in the hallway but thankfully have a window unit in the bedroom, though it is sized for our typical highs and overnight lows so running constantly it only managed to keep it down to 80 in the bedroom when it was time to go to bed.

      The main floor peaked at 87.

      We also did a few drives just to be in the air conditioned car.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I forgot to mention I’ve been hearing those crazy high quotes of homes with AC in the Seattle area and I just don’t believe them. I’d say fewer than 10% of homes have central air/heat pump in the greater Seattle area. Yes there are people with window units but even with those I doubt the numbers come close to those 30-40% numbers I’ve seen mentioned.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I think most of the 44% number is attributable to (1) newer houses with heat pumps, which are now the most common form of HVAC for new installs, and (2) apartments and condos in buildings with central air. Almost no single-family house that’s not new or renovated in the last decade has central air.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          If you are talking traditional detached homes Heat pumps are still very rare in new construction in unicorperated KC.

          Seattle distorts the numbers since they have outlawed natural gas for space and water heating in new construction and have been talking about it for some time.

          So yeah get outside of the city and heat pumps are rare in detached while in attached split systems aren’t uncommon but certainly not the most common.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            We put a geothermal heat pump in several years ago. It payed for itself in less than 7 years. We no enjoy no noise outside and cheap cooling in the summertime.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          My contractor is based in the city, so that probably explains it. He told me that essentially 100% of his business is now heat pumps or mini splits.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      102 F in house temp? Good lord. Do you also have high humidity this time of year?

      Two or three years ago my unit was out for a month in June, it was the mid 80s on the thermostat and I was dying during the day (high humidity though). The 90s I endured in New Orleans a few years ago were equally difficult, whereas the recent low 100s in Phoenix were manageable.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    When I remember that it’s available, I remotely start the car. The other day I got to my car and opened the door the humid, hot air was visibly billowing out for awhile.

    As for home, we have our weak AC running, a few ceiling fans, and I have an oscillating fan. It’s really fun because mom is generally a bit cold, so we can’t really turn the AC on too much even if it was in tiptop shape (23 year old mobile home).

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I have to say that remote start on an EV was just awesome over the heat dome weekend. No exhaust cloud and yet the car was almost fully cool by the time we got in, every time.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Beating the heat:

    If in a car with no a/c, just roll down the windows and yell obscenities. If I see you, I’ll nod knowingly and give you a thumbs up.

    If at home, borrow a friend’s pool, or perhaps see if you can buy some time at a public pool.

  • avatar

    It is not that hot in Bay Area, So we keep AC off, just turning on ceiling fans. But when we do turn AC on as I said before we set thermostat to 78 degrees.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    If OEM’s knew what they were doing and cared about their customers, your automotive air conditioning system would do the following:

    A: If the temperature inside the vehicle is higher than outside ambient temperature (very typical with any sun load), start the air conditioning with Recirculation OFF and then automatically switch Recirculation ON when interior temperature crosses below outside ambient.

    [As it is, most manufacturers will spend extra time (customer comfort) and energy (customer fuel cost) cooling the much hotter interior temperature down to outside temps before further cooling it to the desired set point. There is no appreciable difference in humidity levels (interior vs. exterior) at startup (if your last trip was more than a few minutes ago), so no reason not to do this. And since all the controls are electronic, it’s ‘only’ a logic change.]

    B: Anyone who knows anything about climate control systems knows that humidity levels play a *huge* role in human comfort. Humidity sensors are incredibly cheap in the context of an automotive HVAC system, and it would be very straightforward to incorporate interior humidity level along with temperature in designing an automatic HVAC system.

    [As it is, going by temperature alone, your very expensive automatic air conditioning system in your very expensive new car will very often get the settings very wrong for optimizing human comfort during much of the year (shoulder seasons, any time humidity is oppressive but the temperature delta doesn’t -quite- make the cutoff to engage a/c, etc.).]

    This is all very well documented outside of automotive applications. Dear Automotive OEM HVAC Person: Since you have been doing your job exactly the same way for the past 30 years, here are some pretty pictures to help you understand [wikipedia means we are keeping it simple, it doesn’t mean that is all there is]:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_comfort

    [For those of you responsible for your own residential cooling system, post something like the “Goabroa Mini Hygrometer Thermometer Digital Indoor Humidity Gauge Monitor” (less than 5 bucks shipped from Amazon) next to your home thermostat and you’ll see what I’m blabbering on about.]

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Good points, but as mobile AC users, we do have both the option to turn recirculation on and off, and the option to open windows. Far and away the best way to go when getting into a hot car is to open at least 2 of the windows, then start the car, run the blower on high while you drive away, turn on the AC if it wasn’t on already, then roll up the windows once the air coming out of the vents is cold and the residual hot air in the car is near ambient temp. It only takes 3 or 4 control presses.

      BMW has been putting a condensation sensor in their cars since at least the E90 generation. It is meant to observe condensation and activate the AC compressor as needed. Only problem is, they seem to always be broken.

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