blonde middle-aged woman looking at thermostat and adjusting temperature lower

10 tips to stay cool, save energy (and money!) during the summer heat

If you’ve seen the news lately…or just stepped outside…one thing is for sure and it’s heat. This summer has been a scorcher for much of the country and across the globe where heat records have been broken in many countries. From heat waves to droughts and wildfires, it seems the thermometer just won’t budge from the upper digits.

Heat is no joke and can be challenging not only for our bodies, pets, homes and gardens but for those of us who are trying to grapple with soaring energy costs like the high cost of gasoline and inflation. It seems no matter where we turn there’s another expense.

So, how do you cope? We have some tips to keep you cool, conserve energy when you can and hopefully keep your wallet happier. But first, it’s important to note, if you are experiencing high heat in your area, check your local city/town resources for cooling locations. Do not stay in a hot home or apartment if you have any health conditions and that goes for your pets as well. You can contact your city or town hall to ask what resources are available to you.

What is a heat wave?

A heat wave is officially defined as a period of abnormally hot weather that lasts for two or more consecutive days sometimes across a large area. It can be accompanied by high humidity but not always. Heat waves can be dangerous as they not only impact the health and wellness of humans and animals, but it can also impact infrastructure by warping and sometimes melting pavement and warping train rails.

How can you stay cool if you don’t have AC?

It was noted during the United Kingdom’s recent heat wave this summer that less than 5% of homes there have AC compared with 90% in the U.S. Even with a high rate of AC ownership here, costs are involved and not everyone has the money or capability to have an AC unit or central air or incur the cost of using the extra electricity.

Like our ancestors before us, there are some tried and true ways to stay cool without the use of air conditioning.

1. Drink water to stay hydrated:

It sounds so simple yet it’s so important! Staying hydrated during hot weather helps your body’s natural cooling method of producing sweat. Infants, children and the elderly are specifically prone to dehydration especially during hot weather as are those who take certain medications so check your medication label or ask your doctor if you need to be extra aware. Drinking water before you are thirsty is important as is noting how frequently you urinate and the color of your urine which should be almost clear to a pale yellow. If it’s darker, you’re likely dehydrated. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol which can dehydrate your body.

2. Bathe in cool to cold water:

A great way of staying cool without using energy is filling the tub with cool or cold water and soaking your feet or entire body. This will immediately cool your core temperature down and will feel refreshing and you’ll be able to cope better with the heat.

3. Close the blinds or curtains:

In the morning is typically the coolest part of the day. Once the sun peeps through your windows close the curtains or blinds. Added heat from the sun can make your living space warmer.

4. Keep windows closed before the heat of the day:

If overnight it’s cool and your home is able to cool down another technique to keep it cool is to close windows in the morning so the outside heat stays out and the cool air stays inside.

5. Cool cloths on your pulse points:

Take some ice and a cloth and place them on your pulse points (wrist and neck) as these are where the blood vessels are closest to the skin and can really help cool you down quickly.

6. Skip the oven, make easy meals:

During a heat wave is not the time you want to fire up the oven or even your stove. When you eat hot food, you feel hot so stick to simple cooling and healthy meals like salads with some protein added like nuts or cold cooked chicken. If you must cook, do it early in the morning.

7. Sleep on a porch or in the basement:

Homes can often retain heat and be hotter than the outside after the day is done. If you have a home with a basement, it’s almost always cooler than the upper levels of your home. Use that space, if possible, for sleeping and retreating to during the heat of the day. Also, if you have a screened porch that’s another option for sleeping provided it’s a safe and secure space. Some homes in the south and west in particular have sleeping porches which were created for this very use, to escape the heat of stuffy rooms at night and retreat to the outside for more comfortable sleep.

Save energy and money!

On top of the issue of staying cool during extreme summer heat, the topic of energy use and cost impacts many of us. With inflation impacting our wallets, saving money where we can is great but it’s also a necessity for many on fixed incomes. Here are some tips for conserving energy and save money.

1. Unplug devices:

When it’s hot, unplugging devices including laptops will not only save energy it can reduce the heat they often produce.

2. Switch to a fan:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 15% of annual household electricity use is for air conditioning. Fans use about 1/60th of the energy of an air conditioner!

3. Use electricity in off-peak hours:

Energy companies often charge more during peak usage times especially when demand is high like during a heat wave. Try and wait to run that load of laundry or run other large appliances in off-peak times which is usually after 6 pm and you can save some energy and money in the process!

For more ways to save and make some money in retirement, check out our blog post, Don’t let inflation get you down: Tips to save and generate income in retirement!