How to Keep Cool for Cheap
How high can you let the temperature get and still be comfortable? How do you keep everyone cool enough at night?
The secret is to focus on keeping the people cool first, and the air around the people cooler second.
If it’s at the hottest time of year, make your bed for hot weather as below. If you are transitioning from Winter to Summer, make gradual changes with your thermostat and bedding as the temperature increases. Here are 43 ways to keep cool so you can raise your thermostat comfortably.
Keep Cool While You Sleep
1. Make a Cooling Pillow to keep your head cool at night. You can even add soothing herbs, like lavender, rose, and chamomile to help you sleep at night. To help cool you down as you fall asleep, you can either place the pillow in the freezer or fill a sock with rice, tie it off, and stick it in the freezer for an hour or so. Place the rice pack on your buckwheat pillow, as it will stay chilly for up to 30 minutes, definitely enough time to nod off.
2. Use a “cold” water bottle at your feet at night. During summer, fill your hot water bottle with cold water and stick it in the freezer in the mornings to create a bed-friendly ice pack.
3. Sleep with light-colored cotton sheets, without blankets to stay cool at bedtime. These are more breathable and great for promoting ventilation and airflow in the bedroom.
To boost cotton’s cooling properties, about 30 minutes before bed, lay down dry towels (to avoid soaking the mattress), dampen a sheet or towel in cool water, lay the damp sheets on top of a dry towel, and use the damp sheets as a blanket.
4. Sleep on the floor. Hot air rises, so set up your bed as close to the ground as possible to beat the heat. In a one-story home, that means hauling the mattress down from a sleeping loft or high bed and putting it on the floor. If you live in a multi-floor house or apartment, sleep on the ground floor or in the basement instead of an upper story.
5. Have a summer mattress. When temperatures soar, trade in that extra-comfy mattress for a minimalist straw or bamboo mat. These all-natural sleeping surfaces are less comfortable, but they don’t retain heat like a puffy, cloth-covered mattress. If you prefer a comfier option, switch to a hammock in the summer for maximum air-flow. Be sure to set the hammock low to the ground as heat rises.
6. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting cotton clothing to increase air circulation over your skin, releasing trapped heat and helping sweat – your body’s natural cooling mechanism – to do its work. Light-colored fabrics also reflect heat away from the body while darker colors absorb heat and radiate it inward toward your skin.
At night, be sure to sleep in minimal clothing, like a T-shirt and shorts, a shorter nightgown, or even just undergarments to help not trap heat.
Keep People Cool in the Day
7. Wear a loose-fitting hat to keep sun off, without holding the heat in and making you hotter. Especially if you have thick or curly hair, you’ll want to choose a hat woven from natural materials to stay cool while also protecting your skin from damaging UV rays.
8. Cool your feet down. Create a cooling foot soak by filling a shallow dish with cool water. Add a little Epsom salt and eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil to increase the therapeutic effect.
9. Take a cold shower when you need to cool off. Stand under the water for at least five minutes and be sure to target areas like the insides of wrists and elbows, underarms and the back of your neck where blood vessels are closer to the surface. This will rapidly drop your core temperature while you bathe.
10. Chew a leaf or two of peppermint leaves or drink water with peppermint leaves in it. The minty oils released from the crushed leaves will permeate your airways, offering a nice cooling effect with every breath you take.
11. Drink plenty of water with frozen fruit as ice cubes or chilling cubes as ice cubes. Keep your water in an insulated water bottle to keep it cold all day and save over $500 a year on water bottles.
12. Make a quick cooling spray and spray when you feel hot: Combine 2 oz. of witch hazel and 3 drops of Peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil in a 2 oz. spray bottle. Shake well, spritz on your chest, arms, feet or neck and cool down! You can store in the fridge for extra cooling or keep it in your purse/diaper bag when you’re out and about.
13. Turn the lights off to cool the house down 2 degrees. You also save on the lighting cost itself! If you replace your fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs, you’ll use less electricity and produce less heat whenever you turn on the lights.
14. Place ice cubes in a bandana and wrap it around your neck, wrists, or head to help you feel cool. Alternatively, you can wet a washcloth, roll it up, and wrap it around your neck. You can also sew or buy a cheap neck cooler that will stay cool longer.
15. Save the hottest part of the day for your visit to the grocery store. It’s usually much colder than outside, especially in the freezer section.
16. Try ice blocking with a homemade ice block or going swimming.
17. Put your shirt in the freezer and put it on once it’s frozen.
Keep the Air Cool
18. Use solar charged floor fans to not have to pay for electricity with every use or use fans to pull cool air in at night.
If it gets cooler in the evenings where you live, get those windows open and cool things down before the sun comes up and brings with it the hot heat of summer. Before you go to bed each night, open all the windows in the house. Be sure to watch the temperature in the morning before the heat begins to hit. As soon as it starts to climb one degree, close all windows. All of the windows and even the doors to the bedrooms, if possible.
19. Once you’ve closed the windows, take your fans and move them to the main living area. Be sure to set your fans to create a cross breeze. Position fans across from each other for maximum cooling effect. Cool down a whole room by hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window or fans. The breeze blowing in will quickly bring down the room’s temperature. To add a chill to the air, place a bowl of ice in front of a fan.
20. Try placing a fan to blow air from a basement throughout the entire house. You will be able to add some cooler air and have it circulate throughout the house.
21. Use ceiling fans to suck the hot air OUT. Adjust ceiling fan settings so the blades run counter-clockwise in the summer, pulling hot air up and out instead of just twirling it around the room. You will want to run it on low-medium speed for optimum cooling. You can even mark an S for Summer with a marker on the counter-clockwise setting and W for Winter on the clockwise setting so you don’t have to remember which is which.
You can also put your box fans in the window to push the hot air out of the house. Once the air starts to heat up, turn your window fan around so it is blowing out rather than in. This will move the warmer air outside where it belongs. This little trick works surprisingly well, especially on those really hot days.
22. Close the curtains and keep out the sun. Blocking out some of the sweltering sun on your really hot days can go a long way to cooling off your home. You can even go one step further and use energy efficient thermal curtains that will block even more of the summer heat as well as noise. I was pleasantly surprised at how well these curtains worked in our old house.
23. Keep doorways and walkways damp outside to help cool air through open windows and doors.
24. Use your appliances strategically. Nothing can heat a house up quicker than turning on the oven. Keep it off and save it for a cool rainy day. To save energy as well as reduce heating up your home, use a roaster oven (we got one as a housewarming present), a bread machine, or a solar oven instead. On the cool days, you use your oven, double up your baking efforts and freeze the extras.
25. You can also switch to cooler treats like homemade popsicles and homemade ice cream until it cools down again.
26. Using your washer and dryer can also release lots of heat, so do your laundry in the evening or early morning when it’s cooler and line-dry your clothing to avoid the dryer heat inside. You can also switch to a spin dryer, which finishes your load quicker, with less electricity, and doesn’t heat up your house.
27. Set up your clothes dryer better to suck hot air from your attic and blow it outside. This will help cool your house down and preheat your dryer air to make it run more efficiently.
28. Break those crock pots out in the summer. You would be amazed at all the awesome meals you can make in a crockpot! No more slaving over a hot stove, use your crockpot and keep you and your kitchen cooler. You can find crockpots at yard sales for a dollar, I replaced both of mine for $4 total at a thrift store.
29. Cook outside. You can grill, use a solar oven, or use a passive straw box to keep the heat outside. There’s a reason people used to have summer kitchens!
30. Maintain window a/c units for maximum efficiency and uses the least amount of electricity. Besides cleaning it once a week throughout the season, you will also want to keep the water well full, etc.
31. Increase your A/C efficiency and increase its lifespan to save 25-30% on your cooling bill by adding a cheap and easy misting system to your unit when you do use central air.
32. Planting deciduous trees that lose their leaves during the winter will provide summer shade without blocking the sun’s warming rays in the winter. Shade trees are one of the most important ways to keep your home cool without AC, so they’re definitely something to keep in mind any time you’re shopping for a new home. I highly recommend planting popular fruit trees, so that your family and any family that may buy your house down the road will get a nice harvest with their shade.
33. Take advantage of high ceilings if they’re available. Old homes, in particular, were built with 9-14 foot ceilings that allowed heat to rise all the way to the top, but drop ceilings were often added by residents decades later. Removing these not only helps with cooling costs but restores rooms to their original splendor. Doing this may cause your heating bill to rise in the winter, but it’s a good trade-off if you live in an area where cooling costs are typically higher than heating costs.
34. Insulate your windows with bubble wrap and water in a spray bottle to keep the temperature the way you want it. This is a removable and recyclable option that works in both hot and cold months.
35. Unplug electronics when not in use. Large electronics like TVs can release quite a bit of heat into a room. I’ve noticed this particularly when I’m working on the desktop in the office, it gets so hot that I’ve learned to open up the window in the early morning while I work to keep it comfortable.
36. Growing plants throughout your home is a sure-fire way to drop the air temperature by as much as 10 degrees! Plants such as English ivy, palms, spider plants, Ficus and Pothos are all great choices for growing indoors.
As an added benefit, houseplants are also natural air purifiers and can also be used to improve your sleep.
37. Take advantage of natural light as much as possible, and keep rooms cool after dark by using lights minimally or not at all (romantic candle-lit dinner, anyone?). Light bulbs (even environmentally-friendly CFLs) give off heat.
38. Install a programmable thermostat to save up to 20% on cooling.
39. Adjust your a/c thermostat up 1 degree once a week, until you get to your max discomfort. For us, this is about 80F with little kids. You will save money each month on your bill.
40. Use your furnace fan to bring your cool basement air up throughout the house and cool it for cheaper.
41. If you have area rugs in your house, roll them up and move them in the summer. A bare wood, tile or concrete floor keeps the house cooler.
42. Install a roof vent with or without a whole house fan.
43. Perform a DIY Energy Audit to find any places where you have energy leaks that are costing you extra money to cool.
That’s it! 43 ways to keep cool so you can raise your thermostat comfortably. All by focusing on keeping the people cool first and the air around the people cool second.