10 Clever Ways to Keep Cool When It's Stupid Hot Out


I don't know what it's like where you live, but where I am, it's hot. And if my weather app is at all accurate, it's going to stay that way for a good long while.

While I am lucky to have air conditioning in my house, I like to use it as little as possible. Those bills add up, and every dollar I spend on air conditioning is a dollar that I can't spend on something else I'd rather have, like a trip or a comfortable retirement.

So I'm finding other ways to keep cool this summer. Sure, I'll use the A/C sometimes. But the rest of the time, I'll be doing these things to stay cool, and you can, too! (See also: 9 Dumb Ways You're Going to Waste Money This Summer)

1. Get Your Hair Wet

I'm always amazed at how much cooler I am when my hair is wet. Even just damp, it changes my perception of how warm I am by a significant factor. So when I get hot this summer, I'll dump some water on my head or take a quick (and cool!) shower, or even hose my head down outside.

I'm lucky in that I can wear my hair air-dried and it looks fine. If you can't do that, you can still use this technique. Get your hair wet, let it air dry to damp, then style it as usual. Or wear it air dried around your house, because no one there cares how you look!!

2. Wear Cotton

Because it is light and breathable, you will stay cooler in cotton than you will if you wear most synthetics. So if you're trying to beat the heat, make sure you have as many cotton-based clothing items as possible. This goes for undergarments as well as outer ones.

3. Mist Your Clothes

I've had people tell me to freeze my clothes, but that sounds miserable no matter how hot I am. Instead, I keep a spray bottle of water in my fridge and I spray myself down when I start to get warm. Because the clothes dry slower than my skin, this keeps me cooler longer than just spraying my arms and legs (though I usually do that, too!). Fortunately, cotton clothing tends to handle water just fine, so you can spray it down as many times as you need to.

4. Wash Your Hands (and Feet!) In Cold Water

I learned this from a college roommate who swore by it. When it gets hot, run your hands and feet under cold water for 30-60 seconds and you will feel cooler. You can repeat this as needed.

My friend claimed that this works because your veins are close to the surface in your hands and your feet, so the water cools off the blood as it runs through them back to your heart. I don't know if this is true, but I do know that this trick got me through some seriously hot nights in an LA apartment when the A/C broke.

5. Sit on an Ice Pack

Stuck in an office chair all day? I know a lot of buildings don't give you any control over either AC or heat, so you can end up pretty warm all summer. Instead of suffering, take an ice pack to work with you. One of the flat ones most often used for injuries is best. Get it cold, stick it under a towel, and sit on it or put it behind your back to cool off.

6. Don't Cook … Grill

Anytime you cook in your house, it heats things up. Since you still need to eat, try using a grill instead. This keeps the hot air outside, and it lets you get even more mileage out of what is often an underutilized major purchase. I know a family who grills four or five times a week in the summer, and they swear that it keeps their house significantly cooler.

7. Suck on an Ice Cube

Need to cool down quickly? Suck on an ice cube. Smaller is better, since the large ones can trigger ice cream headaches if they cool your mouth too quickly. Try to suck and not chew the ice, so the coolness can slide down your throat and into your belly, chilling you as it goes. This doesn't offer long-lasting cooling, but it can give you the break you need on a hot day.

8. Make Your Own A/C

If you like to tinker and/or you have a lot of time on your hands, there are about a billion ways to make your own A/C. My favorite is super easy. Fill a large-ish bowl with ice cubes. Set the bowl somewhere near you, with a portable fan on the opposite side. Make the fan blow toward you, and make sure the air passes over the ice cubes. It will blow that delicious frozenness toward you, too, cooling the air around you.

There are more complicated versions of this with coolers and dry ice, so you can get as fancy as you want. Do make sure, though, that you aren't spending more money doing this than you would just running the A/C!

9. Close the Blinds

About 30% of the heat you don't want in your home comes in through the windows. Thus, it's worth investing in some heat-blocking film, blinds, or curtains to keep your home cooler.

I've done this in my homes over the years and it's amazing the difference it makes! Sometimes, I pull back the curtains to open my sliding glass door and get a blast of heat, because there's so much of it trapped between the curtain and the door. But hey, it's not getting into my house, so I'm good with that!

10. Freeze Your Hat

So, we established earlier that freezing clothing sounds at least a little miserable. But what about freezing your hat? If you want to cool your head and getting your hair wet won't work, for whatever reason, try putting a hat in the freezer for a couple of hours before you want to wear it. This will cool your head and your temples, which will help your whole body feel cooler.

How do you plan to stay cool this summer without your A/C? Share with us!

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