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Invest in the Home
Ceiling Fans - We live in a climate that has wild temperatures in the winter and summer months and the best investment we made was installing ceiling fans in every room in the house. We even removed a light fixture in the dinning room and replaced it with a fan and light kit.
The purpose of this move was to spread the heat throughout in the winter months quickly and minimize the use of the house heater. In the summer months, the fans serve the same purpose by keeping the air conditioning use at a minimum.
Investing in ceiling fans is inexpensive and the savings will roll in for years to come. An added bonus is that they can add to the decor of the home since many different styles are available to complement traditional or tropical style. Light kits eliminate purchasing lamps and everything is kept out of the way, conserving space.
Windows - Leave windows open all night to dissipate trapped heat and turn on the ceiling fans to circulate the cool air throughout the home. Create cross-ventilation and close the windows in the east-facing rooms to keep the heat and sun out.
Curtains - The best curtains I have found are labeled as blackout curtains and their thermal properties keep our home cool during the summer and warm during the winter months. These curtains come in several lengths, colors and widths to accommodate any size window and they hang like silk. Unlike traditional blackout curtains with rubber liners, these curtains are machine washable and don't require any special care. For those interested, they can be found at Amazon under the heading: "Solid Grommet Top Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains"
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Water and the Great Indoors
Get out - If the heat is unbearable, make plans to spend time in the shade with the family and pets near a body of water. A lake, a river or even an inflatable pool in the backyard is preferable to sitting in the sweltering heat at home. Taking a dip in a pool or lake will lower the body temperature quickly. Go to a water park and have fun with the family. Annual passes are more economical than one day deals.
Sprinklers - Turn on the sprinklers briefly and let the kids and Fido (okay, you too!) have fun running through them and continue to cool down by sipping lemonade or iced tea.
Hydrate - Drink cool drinks to lower the body temperature. Make them healthy and tasty by drinking iced tea rich in antioxidants, or freshly made lemonade or orange juice mixed with pineapple juice to get a punch of vitamin C. The main thing is to keep replenishing fluids lost through sweat.
Spray - Keep an inexpensive spray bottle filled with water near you to spritz and refresh your face and neck at regular intervals. This keeps your brain cool and increases your level of comfort.
Shower - Use lukewarm water instead of cold and feel your body heat disappear – and stay cooler longer after the shower.
Arts & Crafts - Make a collar to keep you cool that you can use on adults, kids and pets. These instructions for making a cooling collar will help you with this fun, easy project.
Quick Cooling - We have done this and it feels great! Place light-weight t-shirts in the freezer and wear them throughout the worst heat to instantly reduce body temperature and get some relief. Saturate wash cloths with water, squeeze out the excess and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Hand them over to family members to cool down and place another batch in the freezer for later.
Stay Indoors and be entertained - for free or low cost: Go to the mall and window shop, sit in comfy chairs and play with handheld games, socialize with your friends or read a book. From bookstores to coffee shops with wi-fi connections, the options for cooling and entertainment are all under one large roof.
Your local library - completely free: The library is a cool place (literally) that has a lot to offer - classic books and current best sellers, magazines, wi-fi and computers to entertain you with online games. They also have DVDs and music CDs you can enjoy playing on your laptop without having to check them out. (Don't forget your headphones!)
If your town has an indoor ice skating ring it may seem obvious to spend time there with friends and family, but many people forget about winter activities once the summer months roll around.
Museums, Art Galleries and Cultural Centers - All these are either free or low-cost and combine culture, art exhibits and special events in an air conditioned environment.
The Boys and Girls Clubs - This is ideal for parents who need a safe place to send their kids while they are at work. Indoor recreation rooms, lunch rooms, televisions, game consoles and supervision in an air conditioned environment that is supervised by adults. There are boxing programs, painting classes and field trips to rivers, lakes and amusement parks at heavily discounted rates.
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Eliminate Heat Sources
Outdoors - It is not to late to go to the local nursery and plant adult trees in direct line with the morning and afternoon sun to lower the temperature in the house by a few degrees. Doing it once will yield years of comfort.
Indoors - Unplug every appliance that is not in use and will not be used for hours. The big televisions found in people's homes in modern times, computers, laptops and programmable kitchen appliances continue to draw energy and produce heat even when not in use. Several of these running at once will contribute considerably to the heat in the room and increase the cost of utilities.
Cooking - Use an outdoor grill to cook simple meals and eliminate the stove's heat. Make simple summer fare that is tasty and contributes to hydration. For example, make a combination of leafy greens with tomatoes and sliced pre-cooked chicken for a meal the contains protein, vitamin K (great for muscles) and vitamin C. Whole grain sandwich wraps filled with the same fixings add variety and nutrition without adding heat.
Employ as many of these tricks to stay cool in the heat as you can and enjoy the rest of the summer, because soon enough we will be trying to stay warm without spending a fortune in heating costs.
Please be sure to check out the other tips and strategies in Bright Hub's collection of personal and household budgeting guides.
- NRDC: http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/genergy/easy.asp
- ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/safety-tips-staying-cool-preventing-heat-illness-aid/story?id=14119676
- Images: Ceiling Fan by US Government under Public Domain / Water Park by Battle Creek CC-BY-2.0 / Museum by AgnosticPreachersKid CC-BY-SA-3.0