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Hello, Summertime Chi! Keeping Cool On A Budget

By: Ashley Powell

With temperatures surpassing one hundred degrees, and the effects of a slowly-healing economy shrinking budgets all over the country, strategies for keeping cool need to get a lot more frugal than cranking up the air conditioner. Take a look at some of the resourceful ways you can stretch your dollars while staying ahead of this record-breaking Chicago heat.

1. Cotton, linen, silk: Cool fabrics are best
Natural fabrics have greater ability to “breathe,” an asset that becomes valuable in the summer months and let you take advantage of the occasional Windy City breeze. If cotton and linen are go-to summer fabrics, then nylon and polyester are the definite no-no’s. Synthetic fabrics like these can hold in heat and moisture rendering them uncomfortable in the heat.

2. For the ladies: Some hairstyles are hot…but not in a good way.
Heat equals sweat, which equals a bad hair day, right? Well yes, that’s kind of true if you have a relaxer and think your gorgeous curls and feathers are going to hold without a little help from you. A spritz of holding spray or humidity-resistant finisher can be all that stands between you and deflated, floppy hair in Chicago heat.

3. Turn on ceiling fans.
For those of us that may have skipped our spring cleaning regimen, turning on ceiling fans can be a task more easily said than done. But even if you need to do a little dusting before you flip the switch, it’s definitely worth the effort as ceiling fans create air currents better than floor fans and make your rooms feel cooler.

4. Dim or turn off electric lights as often as possible.
The sun isn’t the only thing making you hot. Save yourself from yourself this summer! Lights generate heat and raise room temperature. Turning off unneeded lights will help you avoid unnecessary heat, not to mention reduce your electric bill.

5. Hydrate right! Avoid beverages with high sugar, caffeine or alcohol content and opt for water instead.
Water is always best for proper hydration, and for good reason. Chemically enhanced beverages like alcohol, coffee and colas can react with your body chemistry to make you feel warmer temporarily. Alcohol is somewhat well-known for that effect, but coffee and caffeinated sodas aren’t conducive to feeling cool either.

6. Avoid “heavy” meals and cooking with your oven, especially if you don’t have air conditioning in the kitchen.
Digestion requires energy, and energy produces heat. Eating heavier meals consisting of meat, starches and high carb content will force your stomach to go into overdrive and make you feel warmer (in addition to sleepy). Try lighter meals and snacks of fruits and vegetables that can be digested quickly and more easily reducing the amount of heat your body feels.

7. Play smart and beat the heat.
Try to choose recreational activities with large air-conditioned areas over those that typically occur in hot or sun-exposed places. Fun summer locations like movie theaters, shopping malls and libraries can be great places to have fun with the family and cool off while keeping costs to a minimum.

8. Find your home oasis.
If your home has multiple levels, try to spend most of your time in the lowest levels or the places in your house with the least sun exposure. The basement is often the coolest place in the house, making the basement an underground refuge from the heat even in the worst Chicago heat waves. Some people may even find it easy enough to move their sleeping quarters to the basement in the house temporarily for the season.

9. Become a housework night owl.
Electric appliances like the drier, dishwasher and oven generate a lot of heat that will increase room temperature. Saving the housework that uses the most heat for the later part of the day is an easy and smart way to make yourself and your house more comfortable.

10. Visit cooling centers around the city.
As a part of the Keep Cool Illinois campaign, over 120 state facilities have been made available as cooling centers. Centers are open during normal business hours from 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Cooling centers are a valuable resource when the heat is unbearable at home and money is tight.


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