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5 Ways to Beat the Heat on the Cheap

July 7, 2016, 9:10 PM UTC
New York City Under Heat Alert Issued By National Weather Service
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 06: Children play in a fountain in Washington Square Park on July 6, 2016 in New York City. New York City and much of the Northeast is experiencing the real heat of the summer with temperatures in the 90's. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt Getty Images

It’s getting hot out there.

An extended heat wave is expected to bring temperatures across the country into the 90s and pushing over 100 degrees. For many areas, the temperatures are the hottest that have been seen this year to date. The heat brings with it the risk of respiratory problems and dehydration, and the Red Cross is advising people to stay inside, preferably in air conditioned areas, whenever possible.

The problem, though, is that it can be tough to cool off without sending your energy bill through the roof. Luckily, there are a few creative ways you bring the temperature down without bringing your utilities costs up:

1. Turn off the lights.

Lights tend to produce a lot more heat than you might imagine. You also need them even less in the summer months, when daylight hours are at their longest. By turning them off, you’ll save on electricity, and also cool your home down a bit.

2. Draw the curtains.

Room temperatures can increase by 10 to 20 degrees due to direct sunlight entering the room. Using curtains, or installing window tinting or reflective film, is a cheap way to keep the sun’s rays out of your house.

3. Hang strips of damp cloth in front of the fan or window.

When a breeze hits the window, or as the fan circulates, the cool strips will help further cool down the house. You can also try using a shallow bowl or tray of ice water to have the same effect.

4. Take cold showers.

Not only will your hot water bill thank you, but a cold shower, while perhaps uncomfortable, is definitely an easy way to cool down. Once you’re out of the shower, wear light-colored clothing and make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.

5. Avoid using the stove or oven.

Using your oven can heat up your already-sweltering home, undoing the work of your fan or air conditioning unit. Instead, try to use the microwave or outdoor grill. Eating cold foods or drinks can also help keep your internal body temperature low.