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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!

cheap ways to stay cool in hot weather

Credit: Warner Bros

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, optimum conditions would be 25°C in the daytime (with a cool breeze), with the temperature dropping to below 20°C at night to allow for some sleep.

Sadly the weather just isn't playing ball, 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 great tips courtesy of the members of our Facebook group!

How to stay cool in a heatwave

  1. Make a homemade air con unit

    how to make your own air conditioning

    Although most public places in the UK have air conditioning, almost nobody has a system running in their own house. Part of the reason is that AC units are hugely expensive, and there's no point in investing in one if it's going to sit dormant for most of the year.

    However, making your own budget air con is actually pretty easy. As Ross and Paula suggested in our Facebook group, freezing a bottle of water and placing it in front of a fan will 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

    wear light clothing stay cool

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    You know how dark colours absorb heat more than light colours? Well the rule still applies with clothing, and 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 go in terms of the fitting and material of your clothes, too. Looser fitting t-shirts, shorts and dresses made out of cotton or linen will feel a lot more airy than something that's tight and made of denim (no matter how good it may look).

  3. Don't sleep naked

    don't sleep naked in hot weather

    Credit: CBS

    As tempting as it might be to strip off when your room feels like a sauna, sleeping in your birthday suit is actually the worst thing you can do to cool down (ok, not the worst, but not the best).

    Clothes will draw the sweat off your body, keeping you from feeling too sticky and gross. Wearing a thin, slightly baggy pair of pyjama trousers or shorts (without underwear, as this is often much tighter and less airy) might feel counter-productive, but we promise it'll keep you cooler overnight.

  4. Ditch your duvet in favour of a sheet

    how to sleep in hot weather

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

    Well there's a solution that should help you cool, while still protecting you from the mystery night demons: ditch your duvet and just sleep under the duvet cover instead! Just remember to put it back again, as your duvet is one the main things to take to uni...

  5. Drink hot drinks and soup

    drink hot drinks to stay cool

    Credit: ABC

    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 it on this one.

    According to the Smithsonian (the world's largest museum and research complex i.e. smart people who can be trusted on this), drinking a hot drink causes you to sweat so much that it by far outweighs the fact that the drink will initially raise your internal temperature slightly.

    However, 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 - thus cooling the body. If it's a humid day (where the air is already full of moisture), less of your sweat will evaporate, rendering the whole thing a bit pointless.

    Also, if you've got some decaff coffee or tea around, it's probably best to stick to these too. As Louis pointed out in our Facebook group caffeine dehydrates the body, and we all know that that's a bad move in any weather - let alone during a heatwave.

  6. Open your windows and doors, close the curtains

    close curtains open windows stay cool in hot weather

    Credit: Channel 4

    Flooding your room with natural light is all well and good - but at what cost?! Direct sunlight only serves to heat up your room even more, so by closing your 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.

    Finally, to aid the air flow, keep the internal doors of your house open (not the external doors - you want to avoid being burgled). In fact, as long as you trust whoever you're sharing a house with, keeping your bedroom door open (or at least ajar) overnight should help keep you cool while you sleep!

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

    wear wet tshirt stay cold in heat

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    This tip comes courtesy of Natalie in our Facebook group, who suggests 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

    freeze clothes bedding stay cool hot weather

    Credit: Warner Bros

    We had quite a few suggestions in this vein in our Facebook group, 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 (alongside the surprising foods you can freeze).

    Pyjamas and bedding are obviously the priority (if you remove your duvet from the duvet cover, as suggested above, your cover should fit in the freezer), but you can also try putting a wet tea towel in for a few hours and then applying it to your forehead or the back of your neck.

Whatever you're putting in the freezer, always 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)!
  1. Know where to apply cold water and ice

    where to apply ice when hot

    Credit: Disney Pixar

    We all know that 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 a great place to start, as are your temples (the sides of your head, about halfway between the corners of your eye and your ears) and 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 what are known as pulse points, and as such, heat radiates from them. By running cold water over them immediately before getting into bed, you're reducing the impact of the heat that your wrists produce.

  2. Use an ice pack or create your own

    how to make your own ice pack

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    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), and you can pick up a pack of four 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!

  3. Point your fan out of the window

    point fan out of window stay cool

    Credit: Darren78 - YouTube

    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, so 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, like when the temperature drops at night but your bedroom is still a toasty 100 degrees.

Got any of your own top tips to share? Let us know in the comments and we might add them to the guide!

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