Last week’s heat wave brought me back to the summer that I lived in Delaware between junior and senior year of college. I remember moving in to the house that summer on an uncomfortably hot day. Lugging bins of books, clothing, furniture and all the college essentials from a storage unit across town to the house was no party.
Neither was surviving the brutally hot weather that summer, but we certainly made the best of it. Especially after a very memorable, 98-degree day where we found it particularly difficult to cool down. We had all the windows open, fans running, cold drinks in hand, and still sweating. It wasn’t until hours later that someone noticed the thermostat was set to 90 degrees and the heat had accidentally been switched on.
After that experience, we all became very well-versed in cheap ways to cool down without air conditioning. Here are some of my tips for staying cool and sticking to a budget:
- Before automatically turning on fans, open all windows to find a breeze. However, I know sometimes that is not enough and it seems that only hot air is coming in. Use window fans to push hot air out and bring the cool breeze in. Keep windows open at night when it cools down.
- It sounds simple, but stay hydrated. Always have water on hand. You can’t sweat if you’re dehydrated.
- Turn off all lights during the day. Let the sun light your house to save on electricity costs and reduce heat generated from lighting. However, if the sun is too strong, consider using black out curtains to keep the heat out (and in during the winter).
- Cool your pulse points. Run cold water over your wrist, face, and temples for a minute or so each hour.
- Avoid using the oven. I’m not suggesting you dine out for every meal because that would not be budget friendly. Barbeque outside or eat cold foods like salads and smoothies. Also, eat spicy food. It might seem counter-intuitive, but eating spicy food increases perspiration, which cools the body as it evaporates.
- Take cold showers. This will reduce heating costs and keep you cool right after you shower. On a similar note, if you usually blow dry your hair, skip it and let it air dry. Avoid using hair straighteners and curling irons as well.
- Take advantage of public air-conditioned spaces. For example, that summer I worked as a tutor and personal assistant and did almost all of my work at the library and coffee shops. Other places to cool down for little or no money are the mall (only if you think you can control your spending) and movie theaters. Also, check to see if there are any public pools in your neighborhood.
- Wear cool, loose clothing. I lived in lightweight, airy dresses that summer.
- Turn of all unnecessary electronics including computers, televisions, chargers, radios, etc. Anything with a transformer creates heat. This is also a good way to save money on the electricity bill.
- If you have a basement, consider sleeping in the basement. Chances are if you have a second floor bedroom, it will be much cooler.
How do you stay cool without cranking up the AC?