There are less costly and more environmentally friendly options than whole-house air conditioning.
Are you depraved on account of being deprived? Walking around groggy and grumpy because you didn't get a good night's sleep?
Even in optimal climatic conditions, most American adults experience some sleep deprivation, whispers the National Sleep Foundation. Tack on a summer heat wave, boiling our skin, drenching us in sweat, and there's no way you'll sleep easily.
There's always the "crank-up-the-air-conditioning-to-11" solution -- if you're lucky to have it and can stomach the cost to run it. Many AC users, instead of counting sheep, count coins dropping into the electric-company coffers.
Here are some products to chill you out -- or at least lay a pretty good breeze on -- in a more environmentally friendly, efficient and thus affordable fashion.
Chill out in bed
Todd Youngblood was born to the cause of a better night's sleep. His uncle Charles Hall created the modern water bed by adding a thermostat-controlled heater.
Youngblood and his wife Tara's first claim to slumber fame was the inflatable EZ Bed. Now they're saving marriages and sanity with the Chili Pad -- a high-tech, temperature-controlled replacement for a traditional mattress cover that helps keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
The Chili Pad has hidden channels of soft silicon tubing filled with circulating water. The water is pumped through a small temperature-modifying box that sits on the floor -- best at the foot, I've found. Turn that thing on (either on the box or with the wireless remote) and a glowing LED screen shows the current temperature of the bed, say 75 degrees. Tap the down arrow and enter buttons to change the temp to, say, 69 or 70 degrees. Four minutes later, it's properly chilled. Even after 98.6 degrees of you climb into bed, the system holds the pad temp without breaking a sweat or pumping its fan faster than a pleasant whir.
A fan of fans
When you live alone, it's no big deal to sprawl naked on a single sheet with a big old box or rotating fan blowing air on your skin. But appearances count more when you've got a mate and kids running into the bedroom. And many of us need a top sheet even in the wretched heat, or we can't sink psychologically into sleep mode.
The Brookstone Bed Fan with Wireless Remote might be your ideal solution.
Looking like a modern periscope, the Bed Fan's floor-sitting base hides two fans that draw in cooler air from under the bed and push the air up a slim, adjustable chute with a curved top that you tuck between the sheets, preferably from the bottom of the bed (where the gizmo's easiest to hide). A wireless rotating-knob remote control helps adjust the breeze to taste -- from just toe-tingling to full body-blowing. But be forewarned: When cranked to the max, the air flow can billow up untucked sheets, and fan noise becomes unavoidable.
The floor-standing, cylindrical Holmes 32-inch Oscillating Tower Fan ($40 at Target) isn't tall enough to blow air onto your bed -- unless you sleep on a tatami. But this slim-line circulator is terrific for improving cool-air flow through a house, pushing its breeze at least 25 feet across a room or down a hall when set at top speed and in full-on mode. (There's also a curious Breeze option, which blows for 12 to 14 seconds, then goes into a lull for about four seconds.) You'll also appreciate the Holmes Tower's low noise level, small footprint and hidden blade placement.
The Dyson AM01 Air Multiplier looks like a table fan that wasn't properly put together. There's a big, rotating circular ring frame but no visible blade (the fan's hiding in the base). Air is drawn up and amplified through that ring -- inspired by the cowling of an airplane's jet engine -- to push a good volume of breeze as far as 20 feet. So this "bladeless" air mover is safe for use around children. It also eliminates "buffeting" (uneven air flutter) but is not especially quiet.
We went to a very hot afternoon party at friends' house to meet their newborn. So did a dozen other pals. We also got to meet their new climate-control buddy -- one of those curious portable air conditioners that are inside the house and easily rolled from room to room. Extracted hot air is blown out a fat, plastic tube attached to an adjustable frame that fits snugly (and quickly) into almost any window, including casements. Originally designed for Japanese homes, where window units won't fit, the Chinese-made, off-brand 9,000 BTU chilling machine handled the party crowd and climate well, keeping a 900-square-foot living space at about 75 degrees. Adding to the comfort, a "bucketless self-evaporative condensate system" blows humidity out the tube as well as heat. AC portables are generally noisy, though, and sometimes leave a bit of water in a condensate pail that must be emptied periodically. Big-box stores now carry these things. Friedrich and LG are prominent makers.