Beating the heat doesn’t have to mean cranking the A/C — air conditioning is really hard on the budget, not to mention the power grid. This summer, consider these 12 frugal tips to keep you cool in the hot weather — they’ll not only save you money, but will make your home greener too.
1. Get grilling
When it’s hot outside, using your oven or stovetop can make your house even hotter. Stop sweating in the kitchen and make use of your barbecue whenever you can. You can use the grill for everything — even pizza. If you need inspiration, check out this grilling guide.
2. Adjust your thermostat
Try not to leave the AC running when you’re not home. There are other ways to keep your house from heating up too much (see below). Also, consider saving the air conditioning for the very hottest days of summer — and use it sparingly, such as turning it off when you’re sleeping.
3. Change your filters
If you have central air, make sure you give your system a once-over and change the filters so that it runs more efficiently and pumps clean air through your home.
4. Keep the curtains closed
Keep your windows curtained or shuttered during the heat of the day — that will also help the air stay cooler when the sunshine is at its peak.
5. Use fans
Ceiling fans and portable fans will keep the air circulating through your home so that it stays cooler and fresher.
6. Cover the vents
If you are running AC, make sure you cover the vents in rooms you don’t use to push the cold air where you want it — especially at night. Covering the downstairs vents can make your upper floors cooler when you’re sleeping.
7. Camp out
Hot nights can be the hardest part of summer, so why not get out of your upstairs bedroom and sleep somewhere cooler? Set up camp in the backyard or in the basement — if you have young kids, you can also make it fun by pitching a tent and making it like a camping trip.
8. Use cold showers
Bring down your body temperature before bed by taking a cold shower or bath. It will help make you more comfortable and help you get to sleep even on the hottest nights. To get super cool before bed, stand in front of a fan to dry off instead of using a towel — that gives your body an extra chill that will keep you cooler for longer.
9. Peg out
Your dryer makes your home even hotter, so use your clothesline instead. Pegging out can also help cut your electricity bill. And you get an added bonus — clothes dried outside smell so much better.
10. Get a pool (kiddie that is)
Every kid on my block had a Mr. Turtle Pool when I was growing up — kid-sized pools are a great way for your little ones to keep cool. Adults and pets can also cool their heels in the cold water when they need it. If your kids are too small to play safely in a kiddie pool, then turn on the sprinkler to cool them down.
11. Have lots of cold ones…
Keep yourself well hydrated with cold, icy beverages, preferably non-alcoholic — while a cold beer or two goes down smoothly on a hot day, the alcohol can leave you dehydrated and feeling even worse.
12. Make homemade popsicles with the kids
Packaged popsicles and ice creams are expensive — enlist your kids in helping you make popsicles of their own. You can also make your own cones and drumsticks — they taste better than the ones you buy at the store.
Money expert Caroline Cakebread has been writing for Chatelaine.com since 2006. She is a recovering academic and the mother of two small kids. She lives in Toronto where she writes and reads about all things financial. Follow Caroline at Twitter.com/ccakebread.