Cheap Ways to Beat the Heat

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

There are plenty of ways to keep cool during the summer months, but how many cost efficient ways are there? Try some ways to cool your temperatures and your budget as well.


Keeping Things in the Dark

Bright sunlight can add several degrees to the temperature of a room. Instead, invest in some room darkening shades. By reducing the flow of sunlight into a room during the peak heat hours of 12-2pm, room heating can be reduced. If you already own lined draperies for the windows, simply pull them shut. You don't need to keep in the dark all day; let the sun shine in during the morning hours and reduce its glow in the afternoon.

Full of Hot Air

Not only do windows let in heat through the light, but they let in the hot air of the day as well. Although an open window allows for fresh air to enter the house as well as a cooling breeze, it can also let in a blast of hot air. Allow windows to be open at night when the air is thinner and cooler. Then, as the day heats up close the windows on the hottest sides of the house, most likely the south and west sides, to block the flow of the hot air.


Water, Water Everywhere

Keeping the body fully hydrated has a plethora of benefits, but one is that will feel cooler. A properly hydrated body can function at its fullest which includes the cooling mechanisms which keep you feeling comfortable. On hot days avoid carbonated drinks, those filled with sugars, and alcohol. All of these liquids deter the natural cooling process of the body. Instead, load up on water; it's not only good for the body but it's a cheap drink as well!

A. C. Cooling vs. Electric Fan

In the battle over air conditioning and electric fans, the feeling created by air conditioning will win most of the time. It turns a sauna into a refrigerator in no time, allowing us to forget the discomfort of a hot day. However, there is more discomfort that comes with the electric bill associated with air conditioning. The decision about the value of cool air versus high energy bills is a personal one. Below are approximations of KWH per hour used for fans and air conditioners:

  • room air conditioner 1 KWH per hour
  • central air conditioner 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 KWH per hour
  • ceiling fan .18 KWH per hour
  • window fan .25 KWH per hour

Put it on Ice

If the heat is too much and you need a quick hit of cool salvation, try this free fix. Put a t-shirt in the freezer for a few minutes. Be sure it's dry and clean. Then, remove it from the freezer and slip into cool comfort. It's a short lived thrill, but sometimes it's just what you needed. If you're heading to bed, place your pillow case in the freezer. You'll be cool enough to drift off to sleep before the effect of the freezer wears off.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at or visit her website at

July 7, 20060 found this helpful

i agree open windows can let in hot air. BUT i worked at a school this year and we did not have air conditioning in our room. it was 90 outside and the teacher refused to open the window. it was suffocating in that room. but alas she was young and just would not listen to reason. we sweated like that for 3 days till i emailed the secretary and they ac was repaired.

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July 7, 20060 found this helpful

Do as we did in the days of pulling tobacco and stringing it up for the barn. We took a thin kitchen towel, soak in cold water, twisted it out, then placed it around our necks. Someone always had a thermos of cool water to rewet the towels. In the late mornings in NC it could be 100 outside near those tobacco barns...this allowed us some form of releif from the heat. Good luck!

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July 12, 20060 found this helpful

I have what they called a "swamp cooler" I don't know if this is DH's co-worker bought it when he moved to Oregon from Tennessee, and it is a room AC that you fill with cold water to cool. It also has a fan option. We have that on along with our ceiling fan and we fill it with 3 gallons per day until sunset. We have very dry summers, so it provides some humidity.

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July 14, 20080 found this helpful

Keeping the windows all down to avoid hot blasts of air from blowing in from outside will only keep the heat that's in the house from escaping.

One thing that does help is to put a box fan blowing out in a window on the hot side of the house, and in a window on the cool side of the house put another box fan blowing the cooler air in. That way it circulates the cool air through the house picking up the warmer air and ushering it out the other side. It also helps prevent the blast of hot air from coming in

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July 4, 20160 found this helpful

Back in the days before AC my grandmother cooled a room with this method. She would pull out her biggest bowl or metal cooking pot , a tray and her electric fan.

The tray would be placed on a card table in the corner if a room, the container of ice and fan sat on it. She would position the fan so it pointed to the center of the room, behind the ice and switch it on. Bingo! Cool air was blown into the room cooling it a bit.

We still use this method in our vacation cottage that has no air conditioning it but we use " freezer packs" instead of ice. Less mess and can be stacked higher!

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