OK I'm a tad late with this as the worse heat of summer seems to be behind us now we're in September. So many topics to cover, so little time! You never know though as there is often a last-blast mini-heatwave during September to October. In fact, as I sit here writing this I've just taken off my T-shirt as I'm feeling the warmth of the afternoon. My AccuWeather app is telling me it is 29C RealFeel 30C
There are a number of inexpensive things one can do to remain relatively comfortable when the mercury is blowing the top off of the thermometer. The most simple is to keep your doors and windows closed, and shutters down. This is really basic stuff but I've lost count of the Brits I've seen with their windows wide open during the middle of the day when its 35C or over. When you question them about it they say "Oh I'm just letting the breeze in"! No, you're letting air in that is 35C and will warm your house up to 35C too!. The Spanish don't do this. In fact its safe to assume if you walk down the street on such a day, any open windows you see will be houses occupied by Brits! The trick is don't open your windows until the evening when the temperature has fallen sufficiently outside that it will have a cooling effect. Then leave them open all night until the temperature starts to rise the next morning, which at the height of summer might be as early as 8am. Easiest way to know when to do this is to open the window and stick your hand out. If the air outside feels warmer to the touch outside than in, then close the window!
If you want a breeze in your house, use a fan. In my experience, larger, slower fans like ceiling fans are more effective than smaller desktop fans at circulating air. If like me you're unable to afford air-conditioning, your next best friend is an aerosol spray. Fill this with water and add a small quantity (2% or so) of surgical spirit (alcohol estetica in Spanish). The alcohol aids evaporation and lubricates the spray-bottle, helps stopping the plastic tube getting gunked up. The evaporation takes heat out of the surface it is escaping from. You will feel this most if you spray it directly on your skin but it also produces a cooling effect if you spray some onto surfaces such as curtains, doors, furniture etc. Obviously if you go mad with it this may generate quite a bit of humidity so it's a good idea to secrete a dehumidifier somewhere in the room to suck up the water. I use the small plastic ones they sell in the supermarket here with replaceable desiccant cartridges. Another trick is to hang ice at the back of the fan to cool the air as it blows. The ice can be held in a plastic bag but as it will melt you need one with no holes in it. Alternatively there are various designs of gizmos and gadgets to hold the ice and to collect the water which are documented in numerous YouTube videos.
Another good trick for cooling down in summer is to have a nice hot cup of tea. Really!! The first time I heard this I thought it was crazy but it makes more sense when you think about it. When you consume something hot, the body's reaction is to cool you down which it does by making you sweat. This is the same reason scorching hot chilli is consumed in meals in Mexico and the Indian subcontinent. Hot food and drink helps cool you down. Try it!
While on the subject of food, your best gambit is to keep heat generation to a minimum in the kitchen. It might be glaringly obvious, but if you're cooking a roast dinner in the oven you will be generating much more heat than if you were making a tuna salad. That heat will find away to escape the oven and contribute to the rise in temperature of the inside of the house. As a general rule then, stick to cool food like salads, or cook outside on a BBQ or portable grill so the heat doesn't hang around in your house. Also a crock pot is another good choice as they generate far less heat than a conventional oven.
Getting to sleep can be really tough in the summer here. Fortunately I don't work a 9 to 5 job so it doesn't matter what time I rise or fall in to the sack, so I tend to stay up late, maybe 3am or so then get up about 8am. Then later I'll have a cheeky siesta in the afternoon. For some reason that I don't understand, I find it really hard to get off to sleep a night when its hot, but during the day when it's sweltering I go out like a light! Again, if you don't have air-conditioning, an upstairs bedroom may be the worse place to get off to sleep as heat rises. You may find sleeping downstairs more agreeable or if you have a quiet roof-terrace, sleeping outside is a good option. I've never had much luck with the latter. I tried it years ago on holiday and heard fruit bats swooping over my head in the dark, which has forever put the kiybosh on the sleeping outside business for me!
Another good idea for helping you sleep is to dampen a bedsheet. I find very wet sheets a bit uncomfortable myself but I've had success in the past in putting a dry sheet in the freezer for a few hours. It soon unstiffens and on a really warm night can give just enough relief from the heat to set you off on a good nights sleep!