Chill Out
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Chill Out
Maryviolet/istockphoto

Chill Out

Chances are you won't be heading to the beach or a public pool this summer — and, if you don't have air conditioning, that means sweltering at home. Keeping your home comfortable during the summer without air conditioning may seem impossible. But if you have an air conditioner — or, luxury of luxuries, central air — blasting the AC can bring eye-popping energy bills. Instead, try some of these simple tricks for staying cool without air conditioning.

Related: 23 Sprinklers and Other Water Toys to Turn Your Backyard Into a Water Park

Choose the Right Bedding
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Choose the Right Bedding

Put away dense comforters and those made with heavier fabrics, such as satin and silk. Ditto for sheets with high thread counts, which trap heat and moisture and leave you feeling hot and muggy. Choose thin, lightweight sheets and blankets to help you stay cool at night without resorting to air conditioning. Comforters with minimal or no filling absorb less heat and allow air to pass through, as do sheets made of cotton or a cotton blend, preferably in a light color.

Kick Out Your Bed Buddy
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Kick Out Your Bed Buddy

You may love snuggling up to your partner at night, but if you wake up in a pool of sweat and wonder why, he or she likely isn't helping. Another person in your bed, even if they don't kick or clutch you, can be ramping up the temperature under your blankets and sheets even if you've chosen lightweight options. 

Use Ceiling Fans Properly
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Use Ceiling Fans Properly

Ceiling fans don't blast arctic air, but they can help keep you cool at a fraction of the cost of air conditioning. In the summer, set ceiling fans to spin counter-clockwise to circulate cooler air. According to the federal government's Energy Star program, a counter-clockwise rotation creates a "wind-chill effect" that makes you feel cooler. (Blades turning clockwise push warm air down.)

Turn Off the Oven
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Turn Off the Oven

Using the oven can increase your home's interior temperature and tempt you to turn on the air conditioner. Avoid this trap by choosing recipes that don't require an oven. Rely on the stove top, a slow cooker, a microwave, Instant Pot, or an outdoor grill when preparing meals — or throw together dishes that don't require any cooking at all.

Turn Off the Lights
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Turn Off the Lights

To keep a home cool, remove or reduce all unnecessary sources of heat, including lights. Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs emit not just light but also heat — enough to bump up the temperature in a room. (About 90 percent of the energy released by incandescent lights is heat, according to the Energy Star program.) It's no surprise that you instantly feel warmer when standing under or next to these bulbs. Some experts advise switching to LED lights to reduce energy costs and heat emission, but you can avoid the cost and simply rely on natural light during the day.

Related: 25 Energy-Saving Products You Need in Your Home

Seal Cracks
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Seal Cracks

Just like cool air seeps through cracks during the winter, warm air makes its way into your home along the same path. Sealing cracks is a relatively small and affordable DIY project that can help reduce utility bills, regardless of the season. (The U.S. Department of Energy offers a handy how-to guide on its website.) For small projects all you need is caulk or weather stripping, supplies that cost less than $5 at Home Depot or Lowe's. Larger jobs might require the services of a professional, but the investment should pay off over time.

Use Appliances At Night
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Use Appliances at Night

Stoves and dryers can quickly increase the surrounding temperature while in operation. You can minimize demand for air conditioning by restricting use of these heat-emitting appliances during the heat of the day. Save cooking and laundry until the sun goes down and the outside air is cooler.

Close Windows and Use A/C
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Open the Windows

Even in the thick of summer, don't be afraid to open the windows. Opening doors and windows might seem counterintuitive when the goal is to keep hot air from entering the house — and you should keep things closed down during the hottest hours of the day. But opening the windows at night lets cool breezes waft through your home.

Block Out the Sun
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Block Out the Sun

As the sun's heat seeps in through the windows, the room temperature rises. You can lessen the impact by closing shades and curtains in the morning, or whenever the room gets direct sunlight, and reopening them in the evening. Additionally, try adding light-colored, sun-blocking curtain liners to window treatments. They're inexpensive and widely available online and at big-box stores.

Wear Cool Clothing
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Wear Cool Clothing

Wearing clothing that repels heat and permits airflow can help you stay cool without running the air conditioner. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and fabrics that attract and trap heat and moisture. Choose loose, light-colored clothing, preferably made of linen or cotton, for indoors and out.

Related: 39 Clothing Brands That Are Still Made in America

Leave the House
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Leave the House

While pandemic-related closures will make this tip challenging this summer — during the hottest portion of the day, head out to a mall, a library, a coffeehouse, or some other air-conditioned facility (while practicing social distancing, of course) where it doesn't cost much, if anything, to spend a few hours. Hanging out at a pool or joining in the fun at a splash pad is another way to find relief from a hot house.

Ice Your Pulse Points
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Ice Your Pulse Points

While it may be tempting to douse yourself with cold water, strategically applying ice packs to your wrists, ankles, back of your knees and inside your elbows can lower your body temperature for a while.

Drink Plenty of Water
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Give Up Caffeine

Caffeine can give you a welcome dose of pep — but it can also raise your body temperature. You may also aggravate any dehydration you're experiencing, making that cup of coffee a one-two punch. Eschew coffee, tea, sports drinks, and sodas and instead go for the classic glass of water instead. 

Break Out the Kiddie Pool
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Break Out the Kiddie Pool

It may feel ridiculous if you don't have kids (or even if you do), but a kiddie pool ($10 at Target) might be a good way to stay cool during the dog days. Put it in the shade, stick in your feet (or even the rest of you) and enjoy it. If it's in your backyard and away from prying eyes? Even better.

Looking to spend a bit more to cool off? Be sure to check out the Best Above-Ground Swimming Pools.