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Zero-Cost, Simple Solutions for Keeping Cool at Home

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

When it comes to keeping your family cool yet simultaneously saving energy, the simplest solutions can also be the most cost-effective. If the unending drone of your air conditioner is getting you down and your bills up, try these easy-breezy ways to beat the heat this summer.

Wear Light Colors
Your third grade teacher was right. Wearing white or pale pastels will keep you more comfortable than donning heat-absorbing black or other dark colors.

Avoid Acrylic
Natural fibers such as cotton, and even light-weight wool if donning a business suit is an absolute must, let your skin breathe and keep you dryer than man-made fabrics. Avoid heat-trapping acrylic or polyester for clothing, PJs and bedding and opt instead for those made only from all-natural materials. This goes for baby, too. Natural, organic diapers are not only eco-friendly, but they may also keep little bottoms cooler and more comfortable than the regular, drug store variety do.

Pass The Corn Starch
Baby’s bottom may also benefit from the use of super-absorbent, all-natural corn starch as an all-natural sweat absorber. Let the entire family indulge in this inexpensive perspiration zapper and keep everyone’s skin feeling silky and cool, even in the hottest weather.

Ice It
There’s nothing like cooling down with a cold shower, but limiting yourself to one per day will aid conservation and also chisel down your water bill. The next time you feel like jumping into your second (or third) shower of the day, try this trick instead. Run an ice cube over your wrists, underarms and neck for a rush of instant, man-that’s-cold comfort. Don’t forget Fido. You may not be able to run ice cubes over your dog’s fur, but all pets benefit from having ice cubes placed in their water bowls.

Invest in a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are not only beautiful, but they also help to cool a room down pronto, and use way less electricity than an air conditioner. Look for a model with multiple speed settings and the option of switching the blade function from cooling downdraft to heating updraft, if you’d like your fan to do double duty during cold weather. Your fan can ultimately save enough money in energy costs to pay for itself within two to three years, making it a zero-cost option.

Strategically Position Rotary Fans
If a ceiling fan isn’t for you, well-placed rotary fans can provide a cost-effective and functional alternative. A small, battery-operated desk fan can be used to cool kids off while they do homework at their desks or burn the midnight oil on the computer, and free-standing, rotating fans can cool the entire family off at the dining room table or in front of the TV. Place a bowl of ice water in front of the fan for an extra-cooling and long-lasting blast.

Eat Cool to Keep Cool
Cooking, either in the stove or on the range top, can throw off tons of heat that can radiate throughout your entire home and elevate the temperature for hours. If you must cook, try to prepare the family’s weekly meals all at one time, but also use the summer months to have fun and experiment with salads, sandwiches, fruit and other foods that need little to no preparation. Explore the farmer’s market and find new, no-cook favorites, or turn to your blender to make gazpacho or other deliciously refreshing soups.

Keep the Lights Off
Electric light throws off a significant amount of heat, as do candles. Keep the lights turned off as much as possible, but don’t raise the window shades during daylight hours as an alternative, unless your windows face away from the sun’s daytime glare.

Let in the Breeze
Keeping your windows closed and shades drawn during the hottest times of day can help to keep hot air out and cool air in, but throwing open the windows during the very early morning hours and on cool evenings can help maintain a fresh feeling inside the home, as well as create a cooler temperature.

Drink Plenty of Water
Your body requires hydration year-round but particularly benefits from the clear stuff when the Fahrenheit climbs. Make sure to drink 6 to 8 glasses of frosty cool water a day, to help keep cool, hydrated and healthy.

If All Else Fails, Plan an Escape
Take the heat off by enjoying a fun experience together. Every family needs a break now and then, so despite the ever-rising cost of movie tickets, consider treating the whole gang to a few hours in the icy-cold bliss of a movie theatre. You can also check the calendar for special events at a local library. Many libraries do double duty, acting as cooling centers where people can hang out and relax. If there’s a beach or lake nearby, make your way to the shore, but if possible, leave your car at home and opt for the welcome chill of air-conditioned public transportation.

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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