Keeping cool?

It’s 98 degrees in the shade. Last night, I dreamt I was Superman, and I kept trying and trying to get to my ice palace, where it had to be cooler, but I couldn’t. I woke up sweating.

If you’re lucky, your new apartment will have central air. Mine doesn’t. This means that lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in my car, where the air conditioning blows cold as the prom queen’s shoulder. I find reasons to linger in the freezer aisles, and I shed what little clothing I’ve put on to appear in public as soon as I get home.

If your budget allows it, an air conditioner is the way to go, but keep a couple of things in mind. First, check out Consumer Reports to find the model that will give you the most bang for your buck (you can purchase a monthly subscription to their online reports for $4.95 a month, a small investment that is well worth the cost if you are planning to purchase any major household appliances or electronics). And second, if you choose a window mounted air conditioner, make sure you check with your landlord or refer to your lease agreement before installation. If your windows won’t accommodate an air conditioner, you can get a freestanding “portable” unit. These are generally more expensive than window units (portable units start around $300, while window units can be found starting around $140), but many people find them more convenient because they do not require installation and you can take them with you when you move.

If your budget doesn’t allow for an AC unit just yet, fans are an excellent alternative, as are frozen peas and cold showers. Also, many communities maintain public swimming pools in their parks- if you are new to the area check your local paper, library, or community center for more info.

Minimize the heat you create in your apartment when cooking by giving your stove a break and by sticking to lighter, refrigerator-based staples like salads and cold cut sandwiches. And who says ice cream or cold cereal is not dinner when the temperature reaches into triple digits?

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