How to Stay Cool in Stuttgart...without AC
When Americans move to Germany, one of the first things they notice in the summertime is the lack of air conditioning. While some large stores may have AC, it’s quite unusual to find it in homes. So what do Germans do to stay cool in the summer heat? Read on for some helpful tips!
Bring in Cool Air
It’s a good idea to open all your windows for 10–15 minutes first thing in the morning. Stuttgart tends to cool off considerably overnight; you may be surprised how chilly it can feel! You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to bring cool air into the apartment. Be sure to close the windows afterward to avoid letting warmer air come in over the course of the day.
You can do the same thing right before you go to bed at night. While the air won’t yet be as cool as in the morning, it can still be refreshing, particularly if any moisture has built up inside the apartment during the day. If noise isn’t an issue where you live, you might even find it pleasant to leave your bedroom window open overnight.
Block the Sun
It’s very common for German apartments to have outdoor shutters or heavy metal blinds that can be closed to block the sunlight more or less completely. If you close them before leaving your apartment for the day, you can actually prevent your apartment from heating much at all. That’s because German buildings are constructed with thick walls and good insulation – keeping your apartment warm in winter and cool in summer, as long as you don’t introduce the external heat of sunlight! On days when you’re home, you can still close them partially or just close them on windows with direct sun in order to mitigate the heat. Heavy curtains such as blackout curtains can serve the same purpose.
Take a Cool Shower
A cool shower can be as refreshing as a dip in a pool, especially if you allow yourself to air dry. Try turning the water as cold as it’ll go at the end of your shower to give yourself a fresh appreciation for the warm air.
Use Fans Wisely
First, be sure to buy or order a fan as soon as possible. When a heat wave strikes, it’s common for stores to sell out or for there to be long waiting period on online orders. Think about getting one before everyone else suddenly decides to!
Second, focus on using fans strategically. They work best when the breeze actually flows over you, whisking away any humidity to cool your body. They can help set up a cross-breeze so that air moves from one side of your apartment to the other, which is especially useful in the early mornings or late evenings when the outside air is cooler. In general, it doesn’t make sense to leave fans on when you’re not home. The energy used to run the motor actually does generate some heat, which isn’t worth it if you’re not there to benefit from the moving air. In addition, it’s never advisable to use a fan when temperatures exceed 35°C or 95°F, since blowing air that hot over your body can increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fortunately, such temperatures are rare in Stuttgart!
If you’re really craving air conditioning, there’s a couple of tricks you can try. Take a cool shower or splash yourself with water, then stand in front of a fan until you dry off. Alternatively, place some ice in a bowl and direct the fan’s air flow over the bowl and to your body. The cooler air over the melting ice will blow over you and feel like air conditioning. The effect is short lived but can be just the thing to help you drift off to sleep on a hot night!