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How To Stay Cool When It's Too Darn Hot

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

The heat wave that's hit the Northwest is expected to linger on through the weekend, keeping temperatures above 100 in Boise, in the 80s in Seattle, and close to 90 in Portland. In this normally temperate region, a lot of people don’t have air conditioning.

So what about alternative cooling techniques – and the answer to that age-old question: is it better to point the fan out the window or into the room?

There's that old saying that necessity is the mother of invention. That's pretty much how Jamie Burton of Spokane, Wash., came up with what she calls “homemade AC.”

She gets a bowl and adds ice cubes. She then puts the bowl behind an electric fan, drapes a dish towel over both … and voila! – her own personal respite from the triple digit heat.

“It's not super cold," Burton says. "But it's better than nothing!”

It's not exactly the technique David Hales, a building systems specialist with the Washington State University Extension's energy program, would recommend. Hales argues the better plan is to try to keep the hot air out in the first place. “You need to close the windows during the day, shade the windows, keep the house buttoned up as tight as possible.”

And then throw open the windows when it cools down at night.

Hales also has this list of daytime don'ts: don't do laundry, don't run the dishwasher, and definitely don't bake pies. But, in the end, he says, “If your expectation is constant comfort, plus or minus two or three degrees, it's going to take mechanical cooling -- air conditioner -- to do that.”

And as for whether you should turn the fan out the window to blow warm air out of the house or into the room to blow cold air into the house, Hales says it doesn't actually make a difference. But he adds, with an inward-pointing-fan, you at least get to feel the air moving.