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Health & Relationships

Cheap ways to keep cool in the heat

A bit of hot weather is great every now and again, but what can you do when it all gets a little too much? To help you survive the summer, we've compiled our top tips for staying cool in the heat.

dog next to desk fan

Credit: Malamooshi - Shutterstock

We wait all winter for some sunny weather, and as soon as a heatwave comes around, we moan that it's too hot. But, to be fair, it is too hot at the moment.

If you ask us, the optimum conditions during the day would be 25°C (with a cool breeze). Then, at night, we like the temperature to drop below 15°C to allow for some sleep.

Sadly, the weather just doesn't play ball sometimes, and instead, we've had to get creative in order to survive. Read on for our best hacks for keeping cool on a budget, including some tips from members of our Facebook group.

Our favourite heatwave hack: homemade cocktails.

How to stay cool in a heatwave

Here are some simple ways to cope with the hot weather:

  1. Make a homemade air con unit

    Although public places in the UK often have air conditioning, it's rare to have it in your home. AC units are expensive.

    However, making your own budget air-con is actually pretty easy. Ross and Paula (members of our Facebook group) suggested freezing a bottle of water and placing it in front of a fan. This should produce a similar, if slightly less effective, result to air conditioning.

    This method works just as well with a bowl of ice placed in front of a fan. But make sure the bowl and fan are placed on a steady surface. That ice will soon turn to water, and we all know what will happen if that meets an electrical item...

  2. Wear light, loose clothing in a heatwave

    Dark colours absorb more heat than light colours. So, during a heatwave, you'll feel a lot cooler if you stick to white (or other light coloured) garments.

    'Light' is also the way to approach your clothes' fitting and material. It helps to wear loose t-shirts, shorts and dresses made out of cotton or linen. They'll feel much airier than tight, denim clothes.

  3. Don't sleep naked

    It might be tempting to strip off when your room is warm. But, sleeping in your birthday suit might not actually help.

    Clothes will draw the sweat off your body, keeping you from feeling too sticky. Wearing a thin, baggy pair of pyjama bottoms (without tight underwear) should keep you cooler overnight.

  4. Ditch your duvet in favour of a sheet

    couple changing sheets

    The age-old dilemma: sleep on top of your duvet to avoid extra layers, or sleep under your duvet to avoid the monsters?

    There's a solution that should help you cool while protecting you from the mystery night demons. Get rid of your duvet and just sleep under the duvet cover instead.

    But if you're moving to university this summer, don't forget your duvet. It's one of the main things to take to uni.

  5. Drink hot drinks and soup

    First, we tell you that sleeping naked will make you warmer, and now we're saying that drinking hot drinks will make you feel cooler. But stick with us, as science proves us right on this one.

    According to the Smithsonian, drinking a hot drink causes you to sweat. This actually outweighs the fact that the drink will initially raise your internal temperature slightly.

    But, this trick only works on a dry day. When sweat evaporates off the body, energy is also absorbed into the air as part of the reaction. This helps to cool down the body.

    On humid days (where the air is already full of moisture), less sweat will evaporate and it won't be as effective.

    Also, if you've got decaf coffee or tea, it's probably best to stick to these. As Louis pointed out in our Facebook group, caffeine dehydrates the body. We all know that's a bad move in any weather (especially if you're hungover), let alone during a heatwave.

  6. Open your windows and doors, close the curtains

    Flooding your room with natural light is all well and good – but at what cost? Direct sunlight will heat up your room even more, so by closing the curtains you're blocking off the worst offender.

    Your next step should be to open up your windows to allow the air in your home to circulate. Nobody wants a stuffy house, and on the off chance that there's a cool breeze outside, you'll want to catch some of it indoors.

    And, to aid the airflow, keep the internal doors of your house open (not the external doors – you want to avoid being burgled).

    As long as you trust your housemates, keeping your bedroom door slightly open overnight should help you keep cool while you sleep.

  7. Soak a towel, t-shirt or sheet in cold water

    This tip comes courtesy of Natalie in our Facebook group, who suggested taking a wet towel to bed. In her own words, having tested it out in a hotel, it was "bliss".

    Lizzie also suggests running cold water over a sheet, wringing it out and laying underneath it at night. It'll help to cool you down, and as it should be dry by the morning, you can quite literally rinse and repeat.

    You can adapt this tip for use during the daytime, too. Just take an old t-shirt (you won't want to ruin the shape of one you like) and run it under some cold water. Wring it out to get rid of the excess water, and then either drape it over your shoulders or wear it as normal. Bliss!

  8. Put your clothes and bedding (and anything else) in the freezer

    We had quite a few suggestions in this vein, ranging from bed sheets and clothes to wet tea towels. But basically, the take-home message is: if you can fit it in your freezer, shove it in there.

    Pyjamas and bedding are obviously the priority. Remove your duvet from the duvet cover and pop the cover in the freezer.

    You can also put a wet tea towel in for a few hours and then apply it to your forehead or the back of your neck.

    Whatever you're putting in the freezer, make sure it's in a plastic bag or some kind of container. Otherwise, it could absorb the smell of anything else that's in there (trust us, we've had things coming out smelling of chips).

  9. Know where to apply cold water and ice

    ice cubes

    We all know applying ice and cold water to your body will make you feel cooler, but do you know where the most effective parts to apply them are?

    Your wrists (the underside, where you can see the veins), elbows and joint creases are great places to start. Other effective areas are your temples (the sides of your head, about halfway between the corners of your eye and your ears) and your forehead. Soaking your feet in some ice-cold water will also help cool you down.

    Our top pick from these is applying cold water to your wrists. If you tend to sleep with your hands quite close to your face or torso, this can be a surprisingly effective way of staying cool.

    Your wrists are pulse points and, as such, heat radiates from them. Running cold water over them before getting into bed will reduce the impact of the heat that your wrists produce.

  10. Use an ice pack or create your own

    Got a hot water bottle? Perfect! Take that fluffy cover off it and fill it with ice and/or cold water. That should keep your feet (or wherever else you choose to apply it) nice and cool long enough for you to get to sleep.

    If you don't have a hot water bottle, don't panic. Freezer blocks or ice packs work just as well (if not better). You can pick up a multipack on Amazon for just a few quid. And when you're not using them to keep yourself cool, you can use them to refrigerate your food for a picnic in the sun.

  11. Point your fan out of the window

    This last tip has really divided the Save the Student office. But our student money expert, Jake, is adamant it works. Annoyingly, science seems to be on his side. We'll share the details with you so you can give it a go yourself.

    While aiming the fan at yourself may be the most immediately refreshing option, it won't do much to cool the room down. Instead, by aiming your fan out of the window, you'll be blowing hot air out of the room and replacing it with cold air from outside.

    Note that this tip only works when the air outside is colder than inside your house. So it's useful when the temperature drops at night but your bedroom is still toasty.

A heatwave is a great time to have a summer fling...

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