The recent weather’s been hot and humid, making it hard to get comfortable or sleep well at night. I’ve been hunting down all kinds of free and cheap ways to cool down, making the sunny weather much for pleasant and enjoyable.
Free ways to beat the heat
It’s easy to forget some of the best free options if you’re feeling hot and flustered. Let’s run through a few of the best things to do that are technically free, in case you need a quick reminder.
- In moderate heat, try to create a through draught of air – for example opening windows at the front and back of your home.
- In high heat, such as a hot weather warning from the Met Office, close windows and curtains or blinds in south-facing rooms to stop them getting even hotter.
- Use what you already have: put ice from the freezer into drinks, use an insulated flask to keep drinks cold (it’s not just for hot coffee!), and put pillowcases or cotton sheets into the freezer before bedtime.
- Take a quick cool shower or run cold water on your wrists, or put a cold damp towel on the back of your neck (okay, technically costs a little if you’re on a water meter).
- Get up early and do chores or exercise before it gets too hot, including walking pets on cooler pavements.
- Wear loose and breathable clothing if possible.
Remember to be sun safe: try to avoid being in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, usually 11am to 3pm, if you can.
Brickwork and paving slabs absorb heat from the sun during the day then radiate it back out at night like a storage heater. Get those parasols, awnings and sail shades open if you already own them.
One final freebie tip: heat rises, so go low if you have to. Sleep on the floor or move to a downstairs room if you can when the weather’s unbearably close.
Cheap ways to cool down, day & night
Let’s look at a few cheap options from £1 to £20 to beat the heat. One or two well chosen purchases can really make a difference.
If you’re on a really tight budget, head for the pound shop summer aisle. You can find pocket fans, spray bottles, ice lolly moulds and ice cube trays to get your chill on. Most also have mini rechargeable desk fans, and £1-for-two ice packs for cool bags and putting under your pillow (or clutching forlornly during a clammy 31 degree commute on a train with broken aircon – guilty as charged).
Need to stop bright sunlight getting into a room and overheating it? Look no further than Dunelm’s excellent range of blackout blinds with prices from £8.00. Leave them shut while you’re out for the day, and come home to less of an oven upon your return.
For on-the-go cooling, have a peek at the Flying Tiger rechargeable fan, £12, that comes with its own solar panel as well as USB. Yep, no electricity bill or batteries to pay for. You can even take it camping with you. They also have crank-handle fans that don’t need any charge or batteries.
Unfortunately the amazing John Lewis rechargeable hand held fans sold out in two seconds flat this year. Good news though, the similar VersionTech rechargeable folding fan is still available at Amazon UK, currently on offer at £17.99, and it includes a clip so you can use it on prams, inside tents and under parasols.
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I don’t usually describe products as life changing but ohmihgawwwd the Fogarty 1-tog duvets from Dunelm (pictured above) have saved our sleep and sanity in the last couple of weeks. Prices from £10, and worth every last penny. Even Beau, who normally loves the hot weather, has been raving about them.
Cooling bed linen is also helpful, and you can find some at sensible prices if you really look. For example, Marks & Spencer’s popular summer bedding collection includes the Body Sensor range (breezy 100% cotton from £17) and the Comfortably Cool range which is a Lyocell-cotton blend designed to wick moisture away from the skin on clammy nights.
You’ve probably heard of cooling mats for pets, but did you know you can get chill mats for humans too? There’s a cooling gel mat, RRP £19.99 – on sale at Robert Dyas for £12.99, that fits inside a pillow case, but you could also put it under the torso when it’s scorchio. Bung it in the fridge first for some, er, Notflix and Chill.
Do you have any free or cheap ways to cool down of your own? Let us know.
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