17 Cheap Ways To Keep Cool And Survive A Heat Wave

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2007-08-2820

So you think it’s hot?

It turns out, there are some things within our control that we can do. Though you may be tempted to cool your surroundings, it may actually be cheaper to try to cool yourself first. In other words, concentrate primarily on cooling your body instead of bringing down the temperature in your environment.

There are quite a good number of ways to feel cooler and actually enjoy the warmer days, and no, you shouldn’t have to build a $40,000 swimming pool on your premises at all. Beat the heat with these tips!

Many Ways To Keep Cool And Survive The Heat

#1 Visit the beach, lake or river.
If you live near a water hole or the open sea, then you’re lucky — just drive there and jump in. For those inland, this isn’t an option, but there are many other things you can try…

#2 Visit water amusement parks.
For those inland, you may have a local water amusement park (or “waterpark”) somewhere close by. If you don’t have a natural water hole, then a man-made water hole also works! However, this may not be the best advice since everyone else may have the same idea and you may find the local park to be a horrible, hot, crowded, dense convergence of humanity.

#3 Find a community pool (or someone else’s pool).
If you build your own pool, it’ll fetch you $40,000 for installation and $500 a month or thereabouts in maintenance costs. So find someone else who already took care of those costs, pay them a visit and go jump in their pool. Ideally, you’d want a friend or family member to have a pool that can be exclusively loaned to you.

#4 Buy an inflatable swimming pool.
These aren’t too expensive. We have one that we got for $25 or so. It was great and lasted many summers. It recently fell victim to normal wear and tear so we’ll need to replace it. But for its size and the hours of fun it provides, it’s so worth the cost. We love this type of pool. On the same note, we enjoy playing a lot of water games in our backyard. Even just using our humble hose pipe helps.

#5 Install air conditioning.
No need for central air conditioning, which actually costs at least $5,000 to install. You can pick up one of those mobile A/C units from a hardware store.

#6 Circulate the air with fans.
Use hand-held fans or electric fans, which are available even in more affordable styles. See if keeping the windows open helps. Although at least once a year, we do get heat waves in the Bay Area that feel worse when the windows are open with absolutely no air circulation from a breeze whatsoever. If it gets unbearable around here on occasion at 105 degrees, I can just imagine what it’s like elsewhere like Phoenix or Chicago in the dead of summer.

#7 Make sure your house is well insulated.
Especially in your attic! If your house is new, you probably don’t need to worry about this matter. But for older houses, you may want to think about investing in better insulation so you can save on utility bills along with improved temperature levels in your home.

#8 Install a whole house fan (in the attic or basement).
Whole house fans come in the guise of attic or basement fans. Add attic fans or whirlybirds to your roof. These fans can cost you several hundred dollars to install, but this should keep the overall temperature of your home at lower levels. I see a lot of these whirlybird things on homes with wooden shingled roofs around my neighborhood so it’s a common way for people to battle the heat. Apparently, you can do something similar to your basement but I’m not sure I’d try installing it myself.

#9 Change your air filters.
Maintain your HVAC unit by changing the filters on a regular basis so that they continue to work efficiently.

#10 Use a programmable thermostat.
You can save significant money on utility bills (up to 33%!) using a configurable thermostat. Depending on a schedule, your house can be cooled or warmed accordingly.

#11 Plant more trees and get some shade.
I’ve discussed the wonders of trees in the past. One of the great benefits of trees in your property and your community is how the shade cools down the entire neighborhood. I used to live in a newer suburb that barely had any landscaping and boy, was it dreadfully hot there during the summers. Now that I live in an older neighborhood with mature trees — and not to mention, a country setting — we’re naturally well insulated all year round.

#12 Visit cooler spots.
Stay indoors and if need be, visit air-conditioned free public areas like the mall, movie theaters and so forth (hopefully you don’t end up spending money there). As a younger person, this was how I found myself escaping heat waves. Also, if you’re in a structure that has more than one story, it’s best to hang out at the lower levels since heat rises. Downside: it could be pretty crowded at those public places.

#13 Slow down.
Moving burns up calories and energy, making you feel hot. If you rest and take it easy, you’ll probably feel better even while the environment is baking like a sauna.

#14 Drink a lot!
Hydration is extremely important when you’re sweating buckets so ice water and cool drinks are a good way to go. If you can, avoid those drinks that can dehydrate you such as anything with caffeine or alcohol.

#15 Wear the right clothes.
What’s the best type of clothing to wear when it’s unspeakably hot? You’re wrong if you thought “nothing”! For the safest results, it’s best to keep the sun’s rays away from the skin and therefore, loose, flowing cotton or linen clothing should be good. White and pastels are colors you should wear on such days since they reflect heat rather than absorb heat like darker colors do.

#16 Avoid humidity.
If you can help it, keep the humidity levels down as humidity contributes to your discomfort. You may consider purchasing a de-humidifier unit, but it’s not necessary. Instead, you can try the following: keep your bathroom door closed after taking a shower or bath, keep your baths or showers short and cool, avoid boiling or steaming meals and skip doing the laundry till after the heat wave!

#17 Stick your feet out of your blankets.
This one is a contribution from my spouse. He swears by this method of cooling down while you sleep, so let the heat escape from your feet. Other ways to sleep comfortably on a hot night: forget the jammies, sleep in your birthday suit! Fill a hot water bottle with cold water and keep it close, dampen your hair and sleep on your side. Some more ideas here.

How Else Are You Keeping Cool?

It’s my favorite time of year but in some parts of the country, it’s sweltering. Some heat waves have arrived in some cities and it’s not been pleasant. You may be desperate enough to try something like this but resist the urge.

air condition install


more air condition install

Let me make it clear: Hanging off a window to install an air-conditioner in your apartment several stories above ground is highly discouraged.

Remember that there are many other ways to beat the heat on the cheap!

Other Resources:
Cheap Ways To Chill Out @ Get Rich Slowly
25 Cheap Ways To Keep Your House Cooler

Image Credit: Many thanks to EnglishRussia.com

Copyright © 2007 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

JEM August 28, 2007 at 10:18 am

When our ac was broken last summer we were pretty darn hot. I am okay with being hot in the day time but I need to be cool to sleep. We put our ceiling fan on high and put our sheets in the freezer….thats right…we put our sheets in the freezer and took them out right before bed. The sheets kept us cool until we feel asleep. We still do it now sometimes. I know it sounds crazy but it worked!

limeade August 28, 2007 at 11:35 am

As you’ve mentioned, there are many ways to beat the heat. Most importantly, get creative. As I recently heard someone say, “there’s no situation so bad that complaining about it won’t make it worse.”

Brian August 28, 2007 at 7:28 pm

I have to say I was amazed at the difference a ceiling fan makes in making a hot house livable. We were able to increase our thermostat by 3 degrees because the rooms felt so much cooler.

Eric August 29, 2007 at 6:05 am

Make sure you drink plenty of water at the pool. There have been a lot of heat strokes in my state because of ppl getting dried out at the lakes and pools

ciwood August 29, 2007 at 6:09 am

We still sleep on a waterbed. Turn the heater off in the summer and sleep on 80-85 degree water keeps you cool to cold for sleeping. In the winter, turn heater to 95 and housing thermostat down to 50 and sleep warm and toasty while saving energy on your heating.

tehnyit August 29, 2007 at 6:40 am

If you are moving to a new house, like we just did, make sure that it is orientated correctly.

When we chose our new house, we made sure that the afternoon sun is on the side of the house that we spend the least amount of time in.

We also considering putting tinting on our windows to reduce the temperature as well, although we are not sure how cost effective this is.

Adam Byers August 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm

“Apparently, you can do something similar to your basement but seeing this example, I’m not sure I’d try installing it myself.”

Hey thanks for linking to my site… I’d like to clear up that this isn’t something I “installed” rather it was a custom job, I simply bought a high velocity fan and put it over the access hole to the underside of my house. I have been told that this was popular way to cool your house back in “the day”. It works quite well to cool my room; I do not think it’s viable for cooling an entire house. Extremely warm climates would probably not benefit from it either.

I’m pleased with its operation but there have been particularly hot days when wasn’t’ effective. Since I have computers running in the room (two run 24/7) I am likely going to get AC for the room next year.

Again Thanks!

Silicon Valley Blogger August 30, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Lovely “sheets-in-the-freezer” idea. That’s pretty resourceful and I must admit the first time I ever heard of it.

@ciwood, I got this from Wiki-How: If you have a water bed, turn the heater on the water bed way down. Lay down on the surface of the water bed. Even if it’s 85°F (29°C), your body is 98°F (37°C), and the heat transfer rate for direct contact is about 100 times larger than for convection. It can make you so cold you may shiver. Be aware that temperatures set below 85°F can lead to hypothermia with prolonged contact. So just make sure you don’t set the temperatures too low.

@tehnyit, tints and the right window coverings can help. I debated on whether I should add those rollup shades against some of our sliding doors but decided against it due to cost. But it would make a big difference in temperature in our home. We just decided to pass on it for now and apply other tips for getting cool.

@Adam, thanks for documenting your idea! I’m sure this will help others out there.

Man, I can’t believe the crazy temperatures in Arizona right now. Unbelievable heat wave that I will NEVER survive if I had to go through it.

devil September 3, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Another simple answer if you can do it – eat less. Better yet, consider a juice fast during the very hottest times of summer. And drink lots of water, of course.

Kyle September 8, 2007 at 7:30 am

Great tips! I have to say the whole-house fan is great for us to help cool off the house at night and early in the morning. Does not work so great if you live where it is real humid.

Marisa April 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Awesome pic of him installing that AC unit 50+ feet off the ground. Good tips as well

Nathan June 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Wow that guy in Russia installing the split AC has some guts.

“#16 avoid humidity” I don’t really agree with. Depending on your location if you live in a relatively dry climate using a swamp cooler is a great cheap way to cool off though evaporation. You could build your own just by using a pot of water towel and a fan. How ever if your in a tropical environment your outa luck and probably will have to go for more expensive ways to cool like the portable AC’s in #5

Life August 26, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Great tips, especially drinking water. Personally, I couldn’t live without air conditioning, but I don’t think I’d be up for hanging from a 4th story window to install one! That’s what professionals are for.

Franz October 15, 2009 at 2:41 am

I laughed at that picture and it’s caption 🙂
And great tips. Personally I like fans better than AC, but I still use AC from time to time, when it’s REALLY hot.

Didier June 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Heat is what we can’t bear. The place where I live has frequent heat waves. Thanks for the tips.

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