When the weather is hot and humid, turning on the air conditioner at full blast or sticking your head in the freezer sure feels nice – but neither is energy efficient or particularly frugal. The 15 ideas below, however, will help keep your temperature down without sending your electric bill up.
1. Go to the library.
The library is filled with free books, magazines, movies, Wi-Fi and, most likely, air conditioning. Instead of reading or surfing the Internet at home on a hot day, do it at the library instead. And if you have kids, be sure to look into what programs might be available for little ones in the summer, such as story time or book clubs.
2. See a matinee.
Another place that pumps in air conditioning is movie theaters. If you’re planning to see a new movie anyway, make it a matinee. The ticket price will be cheaper, and you’ll be able to get out of the heat while the sun is shining.
3. Take a shower – and don’t towel off.
A cool shower is already a great way to help beat the heat. But when you’re done, dry yourself in front of a fan instead of using a towel – the evaporation will help cool you down. You can also use a spray bottle to spritz yourself and get the same effect.
4. Keep the curtains drawn during the day.
If you’re not at home, keep the curtains drawn and the blinds down – this helps stop sunlight from getting in and heating up your house.
5. Wear light colors (and sunscreen).
Light colors reflect light instead of absorbing it, like dark colors do. So why the sunscreen? While wearing light colors will keep you cooler, they’re not as effective at blocking the sun’s harmful rays from your skin. Consider applying a daily lotion that contains SPF 30 so you remain protected.
6. Freeze your pillowcase.
If it’s still hot out when you’re going to bed, stick your pillowcase in the freezer for a bit before you hit the hay. That way, you’ll be able to fall asleep on a nice, cool pillow.
7. Use your fans right.
Unlike air conditioners, fans are usually most effective at cooling people directly, not cooling entire rooms. Or if you have more than one fan, and it’s cooler outside than inside, you can position two fans in your windows so that one pushes hot air out, and the other brings cool air in.
8. Eat strategically.
We all know that eating and drinking cold things can help cool us down. But you might be surprised to learn that eating very spicy foods can also help you chill out because they help induce sweating.
9. Open your windows at night.
Opening your windows during the day can just make your house hotter. Instead, wait until the evening to open your windows to let the cool air in.
10. Don’t use the oven to cook.
Using the oven can drastically increase the heat in your kitchen. Instead, plan for meals that only use the stove top, microwave or grill.
11. Keep bottles of water in your freezer.
A few bottles of frozen water can do a lot! Put one behind your neck when you’re watching TV or in your bed with you when you sleep at night. If you’re going out and about, bring it to drink – the water will melt slowly, leaving you with something extra cold to sip on.
12. Replace your light bulbs.
Incandescent light bulbs use more energy and emit more heat than compact fluorescent light bulbs, so if you haven’t already, replace your old bulbs.
13. Wear the right fabrics.
Loose cotton and linen will help keep you cool; synthetics will usually make you sweat. So dress accordingly.
14. Drink lots of water.
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep cool. If you’re bored by regular water, try infusing it with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Some refreshing combinations include cucumber with lemon and orange with mint. Infusing is easy – just slice up the elements you want to use for flavor, put them in a pitcher with some water and keep it in the fridge.
15. If you do use AC, don’t go too cool.
Setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees instead of 72 degrees could decrease your cooling bill between 6 and 18 percent, according to energy.gov. If 78 degrees sounds warm to you, don’t worry – when it’s 90 degrees or hotter outside, 78 will feel plenty cool.