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22 cheap ways to keep cool during the hottest month of the year

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Denis Balibouse/Reuters

(Read caption) A girl plays with water on a hot summer day in front of the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, August 3, 2015.

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1. Black Out Your Home Windows

First semester of my freshman year of college, I only had two days of classes. Yep, my full schedule was packed into Tuesdays and Thursdays, which left me with five days a week to get recreationally stupid. As a result of my nocturnal lifestyle, I had to black out my windows with sheets to keep out the sunlight so I could get a good day's sleep. In turn, the room always stayed cool enough for my liking despite not having an air conditioner in the room.

2. Plan River, Lake, or Beach Activities

One of my favorite summertime activities is river tubing. Pack a cooler full of drinks and snacks, charge the waterproof music player, and laze on an inner tube as you float down the river. In lieu of tubes, which, if you don't already have them or the ability to rent them on the cheap, can be pricey to purchase, just hang out in the river without mobile accessories. I did this once on the James River in Richmond and had a blast.

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3. Put Washcloths in the Cooler

A friend of mine who used to play softball in the summer said that her team would put washcloths in the cooler with the ice and drinks, and pull them out between innings to place on their necks, faces, and wrists.

4. Carry a Personal Mister

You can fill a simple spray bottle with water to squirt on yourself from time to time, but since this is the future I prefer the battery or solar-operated fan misters that do all that exhausting work for me.

5. Eat a Frozen Treat

Take your pick from popsicles, snow cones, shave ice, and other flavored frozen-water treats to cool down. If you're from Baltimore (like I am), you already know that a snowball (preferably with marshmallow on top) will do the trick, and the rest of you should be so lucky.

6. See a Discount Movie

If it's a scorcher outside, see what's playing at your local discount theater. Or, if you go early enough in the day, you can catch a cheap matinee at a first-run theater. In fact, some theaters are so cold that I have to bring a blanket to find my comfort zone. Smuggle in some snacks and enjoy a couple hours of inexpensive entertainment.

7. Sleep With Ice Packs in Your Bed

I had never heard of this tactic before one of my friends said her husband takes ice packs to bed with him when it's too warm at night. After additional research, I found that it's actually not that uncommon. Place the packs in your pillowcase and under the sheets to avoid frostbite from prolonged contact with bare skin.

8. Spend Time at the Gym

You don't have to kill yourself at the gym on sweltering sunny day. Instead, put that membership to good use while enjoying a light workout and the air conditioning.

9. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating isn't just a winter activity. Rinks are quite popular during the summer, especially for those with kids. You'll need to rent skates unless you already have them, but you can generally enjoy this activity for under $15.

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10. Put Your Underwear in the Freezer

Channel your inner Marilyn Monroe a la The Seven Year Itch and put your skivvies in the deep freeze before slipping them on.

11. Drape a Wet Towel Over a Fan

Otherwise known as a "swamp cooler" as one of my friends calls it, this method helps blow cool air around the room via evaporated water. An oldie but a goodie.

12. Take a Dip in a Pool

Obviously a no-brainer. If you don't have access to a pool via friends or family, pick up a kiddie version at a nearby discount store or use your area's public or hotel pools. I prefer the latter for an afternoon of maxin'and relaxin'.

13. Read Books and Magazines at the Library

So many of us get most of our information online that we've all but forgotten our public libraries. But on a hot day, it's helpful to remember that it contains hours of entertainment — as well as free air conditioning.

14. Douse Yourself With Cold Water

A cold shower, a spray with the hose, or a bucket of ice water over your head — however you want to get frigid in a flash is up to you.

15. Keep Beauty Products in the Fridge

A couple friends mentioned this tip when I asked for ways they cool down on hot days. Beauty items to consider putting in the fridge include cold cream, toner, eye drops, aftershave, and perfume and cologne.

16. Add Peppermint Oil to Your Shampoo

I totally love shampoos that contain some kind of mint oil. It makes my head feel cool and refreshed, which is particular invigorating on a sweaty day.

17. Play Backyard Water Games

Act like a kid again with a slip-and-slide, sprinkler set up, water gun battle, or water balloon fight.

18. Hang Out at Home Naked

So long as you're not offending anyone else, it's your undeniable American right to chill out in the buff if that's how you like it.

19. Create a Cross-Breeze at Home

Open windows on both ends of the house to ensure a nice cross-breeze is flowing to speed up the cooling process.

20. Take Advantage of Natural Light

It may not seem like much, but your lights are contributing to the heat in your home in the summer. Flip the switch and use the natural light from outdoors until the sun goes down.

21. Sprinkle Talcum or Baby Powder on Your Sheets

Not only will these powders help cool the body and absorb the sweat, but they'll make your sheets smell nice too.

22. Stock the Fridge With Fresh Produce

We tend to eat more fresh, raw produce in the summer because it gives us a feeling of cooling down when consumed. Personally I love watermelon, in particular, but oranges and sugar snap peas also are high on my list. Stock your fridge with what you like to beat the heat and stay healthy.


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