Money Wellness
An illustration of a woman looking at the hot sun, wiping her brow as sweat rolls down her face
category iconmoney saver
calendar icon26 Jun 2024

Cheap ways to beat the heat this summer

Air conditioning is a luxury most of us don’t have in the UK so we sometimes need to be creative if we don’t want to melt in the heat.

Read on for our best tips on keeping cool without breaking the bank.

Dehydration can be a real risk in the hot weather. Make sure you’re drinking enough by making up a bottle of squash (or several) and freezing it overnight. As it melts, it’ll stay lovely and cold.

If you’re drinking a lot of water or sweating more because of the heat, don’t forget to increase your electrolyte intake too.

You can make a cheap and easy DIY isotonic drink by adding half a teaspoon of salt and four teaspoons of sugar to 480ml of water. Add a slice of lemon or lime for flavour.

Close your curtains and blinds during the hottest parts of the day. Upstairs and south-facing rooms can especially get uncomfortably hot during the summer, so try to keep the sun out.

Try to stay in northern-facing rooms as these are likely to be cooler.

Open your doors and windows to let the hot air out, especially when there’s a breeze. Try and open windows at opposite sides of the house to get as much cool air in as possible.

Wear looser and lighter clothes, even when you’re sleeping. It sounds counter-intuitive but sleeping naked can actually make you hotter and sweatier.

Natural materials like cotton are great for breathability, but they can also make you warmer and hold onto sweat.

Although usually made from synthetic materials, workout clothes can also be great at keeping you dry by wicking moisture away.

A washing-up bowl filled with cold water can be a quick and effective way to cool down. Soak your feet or splash your hands and wrists for relief. A wrung-out washcloth dipped in cold water applied to your forehead and temples can also be a great way to cool down.

Cool showers can be an effective way to bring your temperature down. Leave your hair wet and let it air dry instead of blasting it with a hairdryer.

Pick up a pet cool mat from a discount shop. They’re filled with a cooling gel that’s designed to stay cold. We’ve used them under our bed sheets before on unbearably hot nights and they're usually under a tenner. Smaller mats can work well inside your pillow case – who doesn’t love the cold side of the pillow?

Create a homemade ice pack with a hot water bottle. You can fill it with cold water or ice for a quick DIY solution. Just refill it when it no longer feels as cold as you’d like.

Try and stay out of the sun. If you want to go out, stick to the coolest parts of the day. Going for an early morning or late evening walk could be cooler than staying in.

A walk around the reservoir, lake or beach is likely to be a few degrees colder with a breeze because water doesn’t warm up as quickly as land, causing differences in air pressure.

Find a free outdoor swimming pool or lido. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of places where you can go wild swimming in canals, rivers and lakes. However, don’t be tempted to jump into a reservoir – no matter how hot you are. They’re never safe to swim in, even if you’re the best swimmer. Here are a few free places to try to get you started.

Limit use of the oven or hob. They’ll add unnecessary heat to your house. Eat meals or snacks that don’t use them at all if you can – and you’ll save a bit on your gas and electricity bills too.

Ice pops can be a delicious way to cool down. And they're generally a lot cheaper than ice cream – a box of 20 could cost as little as £1.50. Feel like a five-year-old again as you cool down and hydrate at the same time.

Create DIY air conditioning. If you’ve got a fan, carefully pop a bowl of cold water or ice water in front of it and turn it on. This’ll have a similar effect to air conditioning without the hefty price tag of getting an AC unit installed.

Choose baby or children’s sunscreen. It’s often cheaper with better protection than those aimed at adults. Go for a higher SPF and a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars to ensure you’re protected from UVA and UVB rays and always follow the instructions on the bottle. Boots explains more about what to look for in a good sunscreen.

Keeping babies, the elderly and pets safe

It’s also worth making sure you’re aware of the signs of overheating and dehydration, especially if you’re looking after a baby or an elderly friend or relative.

Our pets can also be at risk of overheating. Follow advice from the RSPCA to keep our furriest family members safe in the sun.


Michelle Kight

Michelle is a qualified journalist who spent over seven years writing for her local online newspaper. Having grown up in some of the North West’s most deprived areas, she has a first-hand and empathetic understanding of what it means to face serious money worries. With a strong interest in mental health issues, she is a keen advocate of boosting the accessibility of financial wellness services.

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