10 Frugal Ways to Help You Stay Cool This Summer

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Written by Bernie Carr

June 21st is the official start of summer this year.  But to many of us who live in warmer climates, it started weeks ago.  If you have air conditioning, you can easily stay cool.  But if you don’t have a/c or want to cut down on utility bills, you can still find free or cheap ways to stay cool.

Summer can often be a time to relax, slow down and take some time off. But the warmer weather may also bring with it its own set of issues, especially if your apartment does not have air conditioning, or your little wall unit isn’t doing the job.

Help stay cool this summer, even without air conditioning, with these 10 simple tricks:

Change your curtains

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), medium-colored drapes or curtains with white plastic backings can help prevent warm air from entering a room potentially helping the room stay cool. Consider installing drapes on the windows that get the most sun, says the DOE. Also, remember to keep the curtains closed. Don’t worry about having to swap out your curtains when the weather cools. These curtains can also help insulate your apartment from the cold weather as well, adds the DOE.

Switch pillows

Change to a buckwheat pillow that allows more airflow and stays cool while you sleep.

Try a “swamp cooler” hack

A swamp cooler, also known as evaporative cooler, works by cooling the air with evaporating water. The ancient Egyptians used this simple technique to help keep cool in the desert long before air conditioning was invented, says HowStuffWorks.com. You don’t need any special tools – just a bed sheet and a window. Open the window to let in a breeze. Dampen the sheet with a cloth dipped in cold water or by spritzing it with cold water. (Note: Wetting the sheet under a faucet will likely make it too drenched.) Hang the moist sheet in front of an open window, using a curtain rod, or a couple of nails.  As hot air passes through the sheet, the water in the sheet evaporates. It can help cool the air coming into your room.

Alternatively, if you live on the first floor and don’t feel safe keeping the window open, create a cooling air flow with these easy steps: You will need 2 12 ounce water bottles, some table salt and an electric fan. Drain 1/4 cup of the water from each bottle. Add two tablespoons of salt to each water bottle. Seal the bottles and shake well to mix the salt and water. Freeze the bottles overnight. When frozen, place the frozen water bottles in front of the fan and aim the fan toward you. The air will feel cooler. The salt in the water keeps the ice from melting too quickly. Check here for more detailed instructions.

Avoid cooking with your oven or cooktop

Using electrical appliances such as your oven or stove generates heat in your apartment, making your home even warmer on an already hot day. Consider using a slow cooker or microwave to prep your meals, or eat foods that do not require cooking such as sandwiches and salads.  Another option to try is cooking outdoors. Many apartment complexes have grilling spaces for tenants, or allow residents to keep a mini outdoor grill in the porch or balcony. You’ll have a tasty summer meal without trapping more heat in your space. You’ll save on your energy bill too.

Switch to LED lights

Change your light bulbs to LED light bulbs – they don’t produce as much heat as regular light bulbs.

Try a cooling scarf

If you need some extra relief from the heat while indoors or outdoors, consider wearing a cooling scarf. They are scarves that contain a gel that you soak in water before use. The gel activates and retains water for hours while you wear it. It’s like having your own personal cooling system. The scarf can cool your neck, which may feel like instant relief from the heat. These scarves can work on pets, too. You can find them at most sporting goods or department stores or online are are fairly inexpensive. Or, if you are prefer an inexpensive DIY project, you’ll find instructions here.

Time your strenuous activities

Avoid sunstroke by doing any outdoor chores or exercise during early mornings or later in the evening when it’s cooler. Don’t forget to stay hydrated while doing these activities. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty and sweating excessively before taking a drink.

Make a cool compress

Make a cooling compress: fill a sock with rice, seal, then place in the freezer for an hour to an hour and a half. Apply it to your forehead or any areas that need cooling off.

Cool your pulse points

Cooling off your pulse points – wrists, back of your neck, inside of your elbows, back of your knees will make you feel cooler all over. Use the cool compress (described above) on these areas, or just spritz with cool water or chilled peppermint tea. You can also try spritzing these areas with a facial spray to stay cool.

Seek a cool area

If you don’t have air-conditioning in your home, find places where you can spend time – your building’s recreation room, the mall, public library, coffee shop, or bookstore. Many communities have cooling centers where residents can go when the temperatures rise.

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Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

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