Staying cool often comes with an environmental price tag. Here in Denver, the high altitude makes it feel like the sun is right on top of you. Residents run air conditioners for home, office and car. We turn on sprinklers for the kids, lug around bottled water and fill the kiddie pool daily. When faced with Denver's sweltering sun, this may all seem justified. Still, there are green options that keep you cool without incurring the wrath of mother nature.
Use the right water
Bottled water may be popular here. However, all those disposable plastic bottles pose an environmental threat. Staying hydrated keeps your body temp down. The green way to stay hydrated is by drinking tap or filtered water in place of bottled. Not only will you save the environment, you'll save money. Fill (don't run the water to get it cold first) and place a few reusable BPA free water bottles or covered glass jars in the fridge to chill overnight. What a great way to stay cool on a summer day and remain green!
Sun tea is a long standing Denver tradition. Just pop a few tea bags in a sun tea jar or covered glass container. The hot Denver summer sun will do the brewing for you. Who needs electricity? When the tea is done, pop it in the fridge or freezer for a cooling. Got a hankering for some fancy coffee shop chai tea? Say no to disposable cups or ready to drink bottles. Make your own. You can buy chai tea bags in the store. Skip the fancy mix. Add almond milk, sweetener of choice and a bit of ice. Voila! Green, cool and tasty too!
Made in the shade
Shade of any kind keeps your home and yard cool. Plant trees around the yard for the best green shade in Denver. Make sure they're native trees for lower water usage. Staked and hung tarps make quick summer shade and can be reused for projects around the house. Drape a tarp over the clothesline for a cool tent where kids can nap outdoors.
Work with natural conditions to keep cool and green. Once the summer sun disappears at night, things cool off quite a bit in Denver. Time to turn on the fans to pull in all that cool air. In the daytime, switch the fans off and close the blinds, shades or curtains. Your home will be shady and cool most of the day, without running fans or air conditioners.
Nix the air conditioning in the car too. Open the windows and do it the old fashioned way. Isn't it enough that you're chugging all over the city in that pollution machine? Air conditioners aren't exactly ecofriendly. They use the same chemicals as your refrigerator. Do you really need below zero temps in the car? If you must, use the air conditioner intermittently for a greener cool.
Spritz blitz and umbrella tips
A small spray bottle of tap water can be a great substitute for air conditioning and frequent showers. It will last all day. An umbrella is another great cool green device. Carry both with you on walks around Denver. Keeping an umbrella up in the summer can lower your body temperature on sunny days. Denver has more of them than any other U.S. city! It also keeps skin cancer at bay without harsh chemicals.
Walk to the fountain
Denver has a lot of sidewalk splash fountains. Parents, don't be afraid to join your kids in one. If you have a sidewalk fountain in your neighborhood, it presents a great green option for keeping cool. It's already on and the water recycles itself. Use it instead of turning those sprinklers on for the kids or filling and refilling the baby pool. To go even greener, leave the car at home and walk to the fountain. Walk or take the bus to public pools, water parks and wading creeks too.
Learn to take cool showers
Go green and keep cool in Denver by taking cool showers instead of hot ones. Here's how to do it. Turn the cold water on and gradually add just enough hot to keep your lips from turning blue. Now hop in and cool off. Hopefully you take a shower daily anyway. Just make it a cool one. Save on hot water to be cool and green in Denver.
Ride a cool bus (Some are free)
Promote public transportation by taking a vehicle that's already headed where you are going. Why add another vehicle's emissions to the equation? The bus is going where you are and the air conditioner is already running. At least make it worthwhile by hopping aboard. The 16th street mall has a free shuttle bus. So does the city of Englewood. Why not hop aboard for a cool free ride? Even better, both of these free buses go past sidewalk fountains. A double cool green bonus!
While your house is cooling off for the next day, pitch a tent and sleep in the backyard. Who cares if your Denver neighbors think you're a bit ghetto? You'll be cool and green while they sweat it out inside their hot stuffy homes. No tent to pitch? Use the ones you strung up for the kids nap-time. No kids? Gather up some tarps or blankets just for you and string them from the clothesline or a tree.
Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.