Tips for Staying Cool During a Heat Wave

We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in the Northeast. It’s been in the mid-90s for days now, and it’s going to top 100 degrees for the next three days, if the weather forecasters are to be believed. I know lots of folks deal with this hot weather for much of the year (Nevada and Arizona, I’m lookin’ at you), but that’s out in the fabled “dry heat” area of the country.

Come to New Jersey, and enjoy our famous high-humidity summers. July and August can make you feel like you’re in a sauna 24/7. For all the attitude we throw out at you, we’re total wusses when it comes to dealing with the heat.

Unless you don’t mind inside temperatures soaring into the 80s, scorching temperatures mean scorching electric bills. I don’t know anyone who refuses to put on their air conditioner once it regularly reaches the upper-80s around these parts (even a cheapskate like me). But there are a few things I do to stay cool and to keep from losing my mind when the electric bill comes in each month.

1. Keep the air conditioner on — but at a higher temperature. It doesn’t have to be set at 60 degrees all day and night. I find that I’m comfortable at night with the temperature set to 76 degrees (yes, you read that right). That’s because the air conditioner counteracts the humidity in the air, making it feel even cooler in the bedroom. The air conditioner in Baby Frugalista’s room is also at 76 degrees at night during these warmer summer months.

2. Close the blinds and curtains. Why let in all that unwanted heat? I draw the drapes and pull down the shades in my house most mornings in the summer to keep the sun from shining into our rooms. This works especially well if you have heavy and/or energy-efficient curtains that are better at keeping your home cool in the hotter months.

3. Skip hot meals. Don’t add to the heat by using the oven or the stovetop. Microwaves throw off less heat, but hot food makes you feel hotter. Stick with cold foods such as sandwiches, gazpacho, or fruit.

4. Go find some “free” air conditioning. Walk around a mall or a local big-box retailer and enjoy THEIR air conditioning while getting some exercise (just don’t spend a ton of money while you’re there, because you won’t be saving ANY money). Be sure to shut off your home A/C before heading out of the house!

5. Try a cool washcloth. Run cold water over a washcloth or soak it in a bowl of ice water. Put it on your forehead or on the back of your neck to temporarily bring down your body temperature.

Do you have any other tips for staying cool during a heat wave?

5 comments to Tips for Staying Cool During a Heat Wave

  • Liz Greeley

    Drink LOTS of cold water!!!!! I also soak in a cool tub

  • I keep my A/C at 78 degrees during the day until about an hour before I get home. Then I reduce the temperature to 75 degrees. Normally a 25 degree ambient temperature between outside and inside is very comfortable. Luckily, I can turn off the A/C by 8 or 9 PM and open the windows. Some nights we may use ceiling fans to make it more comfortable. Yes, it is 100+ degrees in the Los Angeles area. This and changing out the lights to CFLs has saved a lot of money in utilities. In addition to savings, we are pretty comfortable.

  • 76 degrees? I didn’t know people set it that low. I just got central air over the winter and the lowest my hubby has turned it is 78. personally i prefer to turn it to 80 or even 81. we are still using fans and wearing very little clothing just as we did before we got a/c.

    When we’re not home, it’s completely off, no matter how high the temp outside.

    • Penny

      @Carrie: Wow, 80 degrees! Most people I know set it closer to 70-72. The more humid it is, the lower I’m apt to set it to be comfortable. Now with a baby, we have to keep her cool, and employ ceiling fans to do so when we can. We also keep the A/C off when we’re not home.

  • We are some cheap people! My BF sets it to 72. I want to kill him for it. I jack that bad boy up to 80 every single chance I get.

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