Wear Frozen Clothes and 9 Other Ways to Beat the Heat


With heat waves sweeping across the U.S. and other countries, you’re probably feeling hot right about now. So am I. But before you reach for the air conditioner switch, resist the call for instant gratification and try out these energy-saving methods for cooling off. (See also: 9 Places to Go to Beat the Summer Heat)

1. Wear Frozen Clothing

Weird, right? Placing your clothes in the freezer won’t clean them, but it should cool off your threads and, by extension, you. Drop your clothes in a large ziplock bag to keep from mixing with the food. I haven't actually tried this myself, but it seems workable in theory; surely it's more cost effective than standing in front of the fridge with the freezer door open.

2. Wear Loose Clothing

Sweat evaporation cools you off. What helps sweat evaporation? Air circulation. What increases air circulation against your skin? Loose clothing. It’s especially important to wear light and loose clothing if you live in a humid area, where your sweat can evaporate very slowly. Go with a breathable fabric, like cotton.

3. Cool Your Pulse Points

You can target your body's pulse points to cool off because your blood vessels are close to the surface of your skin in those areas. A cold, wet towel against your neck should do quite nicely!

You can also cool all your pulse points at once by taking a cold shower. Granted, the initial shock of ice cold water can be quite, well, shocking. I usually start at slightly cooler than lukewarm, then slowly turn the knob over to as cold as I can stand before my teeth start to chatter. The resulting cold shower is simply divine.

4. Use a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat will help you control your impulses — no turning on the A/C willy-nilly as soon as you feel a tad warm — and it will automatically turn off the cooling even if you forget to. The goal is to have a good stretch of time each day when the air conditioner doesn't kick on at all. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting."

One high tech option is the Nest Learning Thermostat. Once it’s connected to your home Wi-Fi, you can change the temperature, adjust your settings and schedules, check how much energy you’re saving — all from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. With its activity sensors, it knows to go into energy-saving mode when no one is home. About a week after installation, the Nest will develop a personalized schedule to reflect your preferences and habits. Plus, it will continue to adapt as the season changes. Pretty neat, huh?

5. Open and Close Windows Wisely

For a low-tech approach to cooling, be judicious about your window-opening. Keep them closed during the day, especially during the peak heat hours of 10 a.m. to whenever it doesn't feel like you'll melt if you walk to the mailbox. While you're at it, draw close the curtains, too, to keep the sunlight at bay. Only open your windows a crack if there's a breeze to help with airflow, and make sure to close them when the breeze drops.

Once the sun begins to set, though, and it starts to get cooler outside — go wild. Open your windows with abandon. Let out the trapped warmth and enjoy the (hopefully) relatively cooler night air while you can... because come the next morning, the cycle begins anew.

6. Avoid Hot Things

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But you'd be surprised how much heat our everyday machines give off. Be aware of what machines and appliances give off significant amounts of heat, and try not to power them for so long that they warm up the room. Even if you're not wrapped around a laptop, some computers and game consoles can get pretty warm if they're on long enough. And don't get me started about the oven! Mostly because I don't want to go there — I love baking! But I try not to do any baking when it’s super hot out; we definitely don’t need the extra heat inside.

7. Eat Cold Things

This is one of my favorite anti-hot options. From iced drinks to ice cream and frozen yogurt to frozen fruit, I love the way the chill follows the food down my throat to my belly. I like my cold drinks thick, like slushies or milkshakes, or with something chewable for my mouth to work on, such as boba (tapioca balls, commonly found in milk teas); the semi-solids keep me from downing the entire thing in under a minute. To stay hydrated, though, a cold glass of water is the best way to go.

8. Use Ceiling Fans

Use ceiling fans to increase the air circulation of a room — but make sure the blades are turning counterclockwise when you look up. You want the air to come down at you from above. While a spinning fan doesn’t actually decrease the temperature of room, the airflow creates a wind-chill effect that makes you feel cooler as the sweat on your skin evaporates and your body sheds the heat. But don’t leave it on when there’s no one in the room; it's only effective as a cooling method if someone is there to feel it.

No ceiling fan? No problem. Grab a stand-alone fan, plop it in front of you, and enjoy. For some serious cooling, spritz yourself with some water as the fan runs.

9. Play in the Water

You don't have to be a kid to play in the water. No one will judge you, not in this heat! (And who cares if they do? Water is fun!) Look for parks with sprinklers or water play areas. For some wet and wild fun at home, blow up an inflatable pool or run across the glorious path of a hose when your lawn needs watering. I guess you could just jump into the nearest available swimming pool, too.

10. Borrow A/C

Whether you don't have A/C or just want to save electricity at home, you can always share someone else's A/C. Coffee shops and discount theaters are great places to linger a few hours without needing to spend a lot — even an indoor shopping mall will work if you're careful with your wallet. However, my favorite by far is the library, where it's always free, and there's always something to do. In fact, many libraries are also cooling centers, where people can go for some A/C, water, and sometimes even medical attention. Check with your city or community center to find one near you.

What energy-efficient strategies do you use to cool off?

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Guest's picture

I switched to a programmable thermostat last year and have about $30 extra per month. Highly suggest it!

Guest's picture
Alex M.

Cool (literally, it seems) list. We're not used to heat here in England but we've had a major heatwave and we've all struggled to cope. Staying in the shade and using the breeze effectively have been key in keeping cool, for me. That and lots of chilled water and no hot food.

Guest's picture

Eating cold things is definitely one of my favs. When I worked in a kitchen we used to freeze small pieces of cotton to put on the back of our necks to cool us off. Freezing clothing is bliss!