Only Child on keeping cool in home office

Only Child's garden oasis from the summer heat

Today is the first heat-wave day in Toronto. It made me remember how my mother coped with a hot and humid house back in the grey ages when I was growing up. Air-conditioners weren’t the norm then so Mom decided that one time of the day she, Dad and I would be cool – suppertime. So we ate either in the basement or outside in the shady backyard. Mom cooked supper in a hot kitchen (facing south) and then with a little help from Dad and me, carted downstairs (or outside) a card table, three chairs, tablecloth, dishes and food. Then for half an hour to 45 minutes we could sit in coolness while we ate. Afterwards, we carted everything back upstairs or into the house and mother did the dishes – by hand.

An awful lot of work, especially the moving around and cooking in the heat.  But it got me thinking about staying cool while we work in our home office, sometimes without always cranking up the air-conditioning. Mom’s basement procedure provides a more modern/less set-up work idea for those of us who work from home. Of course, if your office is in your basement, you are already there. For the rest of us (my office is a converted dining room), here are a few ideas. Some are from and some seem to be running around in my head. With energy use peaking all round, and possibly leading to brownouts (depending on where you live), some of these might just help.

1. Desktop PCs use more electricity than laptops and notebooks. Printers also use a lot of electricity (I know; most go into sleep mode). With wireless connections, you can just turn on your power board for your modem/router and take your laptop or notebook down to the basement. If you don’t have proper outlets to plug in down there, use the laptop or notebook on batteries.

Basement not suitable or you live in an apartment or flat with no basement access? Take your laptop/notebook to an air-conditioned library or Internet cafe (My son, who works from home does this, although his landlord is finally putting in air-conditioning). Or stay home and…

1. Draw your drapes and close your windows during the day and do the reverse at night. Thermal drapes are good but so are mini blinds.

2. Use fans, particularly the overhead ones – they circulate the air better than the regular fans. Thoughts on window fans differ from good to bad. Check out for some ideas here.

3. Drink, drink, drink, preferable water and fruit juices while you work, but keep the drinks away from the laptop.

4. Take breaks away from your laptop. If you have a swimming pool in your backyard or apartment building, use it.

5. Consider shortening your work week or at least your workday for the summer. I am. Starting in June I don’t work on Fridays, at least on client work. I may do some of my own writing but I may also go to the beach or “work” in my garden (early morning or later in the evening) or just sit in the garden and read a book.

6. Don’t use your conventional oven. Cook on the barbie (if you have one), or use a crockpot or rice steamer and your microwave. Make light meals. Salads are good.

7. Dress light and comfortable. . Unless you are meeting clients in your home office, shorts and a tank top or a bathing suit are fine.

8. If you go outside make sure you apply sunscreen before, put on the sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat or cap. Stay in the shade as much as possible and go for walks in the early morning or late evening after the sun sets.

9.  Last but not least – keep your cool with your temper. Angry outbursts will raise more than your ire and blood pressure.

Anybody else have any favourites about keeping cool?



Only Child Writes



Filed under Cooling home office summer, Energy saving summer home office, Health, Heat summer, Only child

2 responses to “Only Child on keeping cool in home office

  1. Growing up we would always open all the windows wide to create a draft breezing through the house.

  2. Hi, Only Child. I enjoyed your comments on the Google Group writer’s list and found you here as a result. How appropos. Temps are climbing to 97 degrees here in VA today! Thanks for a thoughtful, timely, essay.

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