7 ways to beat the heat for free or cheap this summer
Trying to stay cool during the dog days of summer can add heat to your energy bills. Depending on where you live, the size of your home, and how hot it is, you could spend anywhere from $100 to $500 a month to run your air conditioner.
If you’re worried about cooling costs (or don’t have air conditioning), don’t worry. Because we’ve found plenty of ways to stay cool without spending your hard-earned money.
Why can extreme heat be dangerous?
Are you feeling hot lately? Extreme heat is an extended period of temperatures above 90 degrees. Heat is also exacerbated by humidity, making extreme summer heat waves a serious health risk for seniors, children and people with health conditions such as heart disease.
According to the US Department of Homeland Security, extreme heat is responsible for more deaths annually than any other weather-related hazard. Learn to recognize the following symptoms of heat-related illness such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
- High body temperature (above 103 degrees)
- Skin redness, heat, or redness
- Pulse speed
- Dizziness or confusion
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive sweating
- Paleness and weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
If you feel sick or suspect heat illness, seek medical care immediately. Seek shade and stay calm until help arrives. If you suspect heatstroke, avoid drinks, especially those containing alcohol, until medical staff can evaluate the situation.
7 free (or cheap) ways to beat the heat
- Find a cooling center.
- Go swimming.
- Cool down at the mall.
- home during hot weather.
- Go to the cinema.
- Check out the library or museum.
- Sit in a café.
1. Find a cooling center
Cooling centers across the country provide communities with an air-conditioned place to get comfortable during heat events. Most cooling centers also welcome pets.
You can check with the National Center for Healthy Housing to find a cooling center near you or call 2-1-1 in most states to connect with heat relief resources.
2. Go swimming
There’s nothing like immersing your body in ice cold water to wash away a hot afternoon. Take a cruise to your city or county’s website to check out free or discounted community pools, splash pads or water parks.
You can also head to a lake or beach at a local state park to cool off, but make sure it’s designated for swimming. And if you plan to stay outdoors, go early in the morning so you can enjoy the coolest part of the day. Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun by wearing plenty of light, loose clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and a large bottle of sunscreen.
3. Cool down at the mall
You don’t have to be a mall fan to enjoy the spacious indoor air conditioning and people watching at the highest level. There’s probably an indoor mall near you where you can relax and maybe enjoy some free Wi-Fi.
Worried that you won’t be able to resist the call of shopping? Follow our guide to reduce impulse buying.
4. Sitting at home during hot weather
Are you hesitant to turn on the air conditioner in your home? Turn someone else’s home into your personal oasis instead.
House sitting is a great way to generate a little extra income while staying cool this summer.
5. Go to the movies
Although going to the movies isn’t free, you can get cheap tickets to matinees and maximize your time in those cool, dark theaters by showing up an hour early and staying through the credits.
6. Check out a library or museum
Libraries are great community spaces to soak up the sun and enjoy free Wi-Fi. Get bonus points for finding all kinds of free stuff to check out, from board games to sewing patterns.
If you live near the city, there will likely be an air-conditioned museum offering free or discounted days during the summer.
7. Hanging out at a café
While a hot cup of coffee doesn’t seem like the perfect way to spend a summer day, remember that coffee shops serve cold drinks, too.
Slowly sipping something iced while catching up on email or reading a good book is a great (and inexpensive) way to stay cool.
8. Stay hydrated
Whether you’re beating the next heat wave at home with your own money or letting someone else foot the bill, drink plenty of fluids. It’s also smart to avoid high-intensity activities, especially outdoors, and wear loose, lightweight clothing.
And remember, if your home is too hot for you, it’s probably worse for your pets. Make sure they get plenty of water, shade, and access to a cool indoor space if possible.
How to beat the heat at home
Want to beat the heat this summer? Weather-prepare your home. A well-insulated home with doors and windows weather-stripping makes the most of the energy dollars you’re already spending.
Remember to keep your curtains and blinds closed and consider adding heat reflectors to your windows. Do not rely heavily on fans as the primary cooling method. Fans increase airflow, but they do not reduce temperatures significantly.
Kaz Weida is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder covering money saving and budgeting. As a journalist, she has written about a wide range of topics including finance, health, politics, education, and technology over the past decade.
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