Surviving summer in Houston takes some planning.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is one great summer escape.
Houston's new luxury movie theater – iPic Theater at River Oaks District – raises plush seating to a new level. (Photo courtesy iPic Theaters)
The Texas-shaped lazy river pool is the new Marriott Marquis Houston's showpiece. (Photo by Chris Baldwin.)
Control the temperature in your home with a smartphone when you're not there and you'll find yourself using less energy.
The humidity hovers at 90 percent and the mercury soars toward the triple digits. Welcome to summer in Houston. Don’t know how to beat the heat? Look no further. This is your summer survival guide for the most intense season for America’s fourth-largest city.
Whether you’re a complete newcomer to Houston or a longtime resident, you’ll find curated recommendations on where to go, what to eat, how to dip and how to stay empowered all season long.
The Great Indoors
The word “museum” is basically synonymous with “climate control,” and there are few better places to get lost indoors than the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This cultural haven boasts an encyclopedic collection spanning 130,000 square feet of gallery space, each one of them maintained at a blessedly comfortable cool. Your art jaunt doesn’t have to stop there.
Stay inside all day with visits to the nearby Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Menil Collection, or take it underground at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, where the video installation Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern remains on view through June 25.
Stay in the dark by ducking into a cold movie theater for a double-feature — make sure it’s one where you can wine and dine without leaving the comfort of your reclining seat, like iPic in River Oaks District or AMC Dine-In Houston in downtown. Or Netflix and, well, chill in the comfort of your own home
If your A/C isn’t getting the memo and doing it’s job, just call One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, one of Direct Energy’s carefully selected home services companies. One Hour’s trusted technicians provide same-day service when you need it most, with white-glove treatment and an on-time guarantee.
(Sweet) Treat Yourself
Cold confections taste more palatable in high heat. Steel City Pops in The Heights and Popfancy Pops in Memorial City Mall corner the market on all-natural popsicles that are as flavorful they are fresh. Cloud 10 Creamery in Rice Village impresses with unexpected seasonal offerings such as peach curry sorbet and cilantro ice cream with roasted pineapple. The taiyaki ice cream at Kamalan Bakery in Chinatown is highly Instagrammable and the candy-covered snow cones at Brain Freeze in Pasadena are almost too pretty to eat.
The 21-and-over among us would do well to up the ante with a dash of booze. We recommend the frosé at Eight Row Flint, a frozen screwdriver at Under the Volcano or a classic margarita from your favorite Tex-Mex joint.
And don’t forget the home front. They say a full fridge is an efficient one, so stock up on frozen treats, sparkling water and cold-pressed juices for indulging at home. Direct Your Energy, an easy-to-navigate usage insight tool for Direct Energy customers, depicts and analyzes home energy usage. An Energy Insights chart breaks down energy use by appliance, so you know it’s time to replenish when the refrigerator usage is on the rise.
Water, Water Everywhere
Houston isn’t called the Bayou City for nothing: Enjoy H-Town’s most distinctive feature by renting a kayak from Bayou City Adventures or taking a Twilight Tour on the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s pontoon.
If boating isn’t your idea of refreshing, Houston offers swimming holes aplenty, too. Take a spin around the Texas-shaped lazy pool on the rooftop of the new Marriott Marquis in downtown, do a few laps at a neighborhood YMCA or escape to your own backyard oasis — once you get that pesky pool pump fixed by Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, another Direct Energy affiliate. The highly skilled, expertly trained plumbers can identify, explain and address the issue, with service you can trust.
Have a cabin on the coast or a second house by a lake? What are you waiting for? A day-trip or weekend getaway to the water is your best bet for escaping Texas’ urban heat islands. Whether you own a vacation home or you’re looking to buy, Direct Energy makes switching energy providers or setting up service easy.
Newcomers to Texas may not realize it, but their new state actually boasts the fairest electricity market in America and arguably the world. This is one of the few states where there is true freedom of choice when it comes to electricity providers —and doing a little research on your options can make a bigger difference than a cooling rain shower.
You have options with Direct Energy. If you prefer to be philanthropic with your purchases, check out their Give Brighter plan, which helps provide solar powered Luci lights to parts of the developing world that don’t have access to electricity. When you sign up for Direct Energy’s Give Brighter plan you’ll receive one Luci light, and another Luci light will be donated to a family in a developing nation on your behalf.
If summer savings are more your style, sign up for Direct Energy’s Free Power Weekends plan and enjoy free electricity every weekend throughout the year. That’s right – you won’t be charged for the electricity that you use from 6pm Friday through 11:59pm Sunday night. That’s over 100 days of free electricity and the plan with the most free weekend hours in Texas*!
Not only does Direct Energy provide optimal service, it also offer complete transparency when it comes to your monthly usage with their personal insight tool called Direct Your Energy. Customers can better understand their bill and make smarter choices, like proactively adjusting the thermostat to reduce costs during heat waves or identifying abnormal appliance usage patterns before they become a bigger problem.
Direct Energy also allows you to compare your home’s energy use to how much energy similar-sized houses, apartments and condos in your area are using. It’s not a scoreboard as much as it’s an empowering guide that allows you to be in control. Suddenly, you’re the master of your own electric domain. Or at least, the smart woman who knows that her refrigerator seems to be using way more energy than it should.
It is summer in Houston, after all. As any newcomer quickly learns, this is the season almost above all others when you need to have control over your own domain. Summer in Houston isn’t just sweltering. It can be overwhelming and even oppressive.
Everyone wants a summer survival guide. Craft your own, inside and out, and you’ll be almost looking forward to the heat. Or at least, all the great escapes you’ve planned — even when that means just chilling out at home.
*Most free hours weekend electricity claim as of May, 17 2017 when compared to other retail electric providers offers listed on the powertochoose.org website. Subject to change.