With July and August comes the height of summer, the time of the year when the heat feels both omnipresent and interminable. Whether you’re hanging out at home with a cold drink in hand or sweating through the workday at the office, the heat can feel difficult to escape, even with the air conditioning running at full blast. So what’s a guy to do to get a little bit of relief on those days where even an ice bath sounds like a great place to lounge? As luck would have it, some awesome tech companies have your back, and turning to some well-designed and expertly deployed technology may be the way to go.
There are a few gadgets that will make even the most sweltering of summer days feel more bearable, especially when running to the nearest pool, lake, or ocean isn’t an option. Check out our seven favorite gadgets for keeping cool at home or at the office — and even saving on your energy bills as you do so.
1. Desk fan
At home or at the office, one of the easiest gadgets to set up is a desk fan. Instead of turning up the air conditioning — and paying for all of the power it chugs when the next energy bill arrives — you can turn on a desk fan when the temperature inside gets too high for comfort. The gold standard when it comes to desk fans is Dyson’s AM06, which is quiet, bladeless, and energy efficient. The fan can also be programmed to turn on and off after preset intervals from 15 minutes to 9 hours, and also includes a remote control for the times when you’d like to control it from across the room. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional and a little less pricy, another excellent choice is Vornado’s classically-styled VFAN (also available in junior and senior-sized models). The authentic metal construction the company began using in the 1940’s ensures that the VFAN won’t be an eyesore on your desk at work, and at any of its three speeds, the fan is quiet enough to use during phone calls.
2. LED light bulbs
Installing new light bulbs at the office or in your living room may not be the most obvious way to stay cool, but hear us out. Whether you’re depending on fans or air conditioning, having hot incandescent bulbs, especially in a small space, doesn’t make it any easier to keep things cool. Not only are they more energy efficient and longer-lasting than other types of lightbulbs, but LED light bulbs also run much cooler than incandescent and CFL bulbs. (Several years ago, Energy Circle found that an incandescent halogen bulb runs at 327 degrees, almost twice the temperature of a Philips CFL bulb and more than three times the temperature of a Cree LED bulb.) The price of LED bulbs is continually falling and the selection diversifying, and CNET’s Ry Crist has a lot to say about the best LED bulbs for different purposes, including replacing 60W and 100W bulbs, and choosing which bulbs have the best color quality and are the most energy-efficient. A popular bargain choice is the Philips 60W equivalent LED light bulb.
3. Smart air conditioner
Since you’ll be running your air conditioner all summer to keep cool at home, it makes sense to ensure that yours is running as efficiently as possible. If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, consider the Aros smart air conditioner from Quirky and inventor Garthen Leslie. This air conditioner learns from your budget, location, schedule, and usage, and automatically maintains optimizes the temperature in your house and maximizes your savings on energy costs. (And you can control it from anywhere with the Wink app.) If you aren’t looking to replace your air conditioner, but still want some of the benefits of smarter air conditioning, consider ThinkEco’s smartAC kit, which enables you to measure the energy usage and set on and off schedules for any plug-in air conditioner. With the kit, you can also control your air conditioner with your smartphone while you’re away.
4. Smart thermostat
Like a smart air conditioner, a smart thermostat is a good way to both optimize the temperature of your house and get the most out of the money that you spend keeping your living space cool. The most well-known smart thermostat is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which programs itself and can be controlled from anywhere by smartphone. After you set it up (in a process that usually takes 30 minutes or less), the thermostat learns the temperatures that you like and determines a personalized schedule for you. Within a week, it will start setting temperatures on its own, and an Auto-Away function sets the system on an energy-efficient temperature while you’re gone. Another excellent option is Honeywell’s Lyric smart thermostat, which optimizes both the temperature and the humidity of your home.
5. Smart window shades
Window shades are an underrated tool that can help you keep your home or office cool even in the middle of a hot summer. When drawn all day and properly installed — mounted as close to the glass as possible — they act as insulation, keeping heat outside and cool inside. If you want to purchase some new window shades, consider Levolor’s Energy Shield shades, which help you maximize your energy use (and, in case you’re thinking ahead to the end of the heat wave, are just as useful in the cold weather as in the hot). While you might consider new shades at home, you might be looking for a lower-cost solution for the office. A new device from Rise enables you to turn your current window shades into smart shades; the controller can be operated via your smartphone, remembers your weekly routines, and can even evaluate the amount of sun entering the room and act accordingly.
6. Vacuum-sealed water bottle
Staying hydrated is crucial when you’re sweating all day, and keeping some cool water with you at all times is a good idea. There’s an overwhelming array of water bottles at every price point on the market, but in the interest of finding the best combination of durability, weight, and performance, we’d recommend a stainless steel version. A vacuum-sealed bottle is an excellent choice for keeping liquids cool, and the water bottles from S’well are designed to keep your drink cool for up to 24 hours. (S’well’s website notes that making a high-performance vacuum-sealed bottle involves a complex manufacturing process of more than 70 steps.) Another top choice is a stainless steel bottle from Klean Kanteen, which first introduced its metal bottle in 2004. Its vacuum-insulated bottles keep maintain the temperature of hot beverages for six hours and iced beverages for up to 24.
7. Bonus: cooling phone case
Just as you want to keep your body temperature down during the height of the summer, you should also be conscious of the temperature of your most constant companion: your smartphone. Whether you’re at an outdoor meeting or lounging on the beach, if you’re using your phone in the sun or just outside in high temperatures, the device itself can get pretty hot. One way to reduce the risk of your smartphone overheating is to use a thermal protection case, like the Optimal from Amited, which will keep your phone cool both to save battery and to keep it running well. It protects both the internal components of your phone and the external chassis, but still keeps your phone light and streamlined. Or, if you’re at the beach or the pool and are more concerned about water than heat, outfit your phone with a LifeProof case to waterproof it.