As gas prices soared this past year, several writers tried to determine if it was less expensive to fly rather than to drive to a given location. Gas prices still hover around the $2.80 per gallon mark for regular grade nationwide, but prices for airline tickets are hard to nail down. The cost of that latter mode of transportation will depend on how early you purchase your tickets, how many individuals you plan to take with you, and your point of departure and destination. Since some of you might be pondering how to travel over upcoming holidays, this guide might help you to make a decision on whether to fly or drive.
We’ve provided a few comparisons, along with some tips on how to save money along the way. Our figures, which were current at the time this article was written (shortly after Labor Day 2007), were derived from the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator for gas, and from Priceline for airline comparisons. We want to note the date, as gas and airline costs usually escalate around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Roundtrip Chicago to San Francisco
We chose a Chicago to San Francisco round trip for the first example, as both cities contain major airports with regular flights between both destinations. As for the automobile mode, we chose a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid for the trip. There are two city-dwelling (Chicagoan) adults on this trip, which is scheduled for a non-holiday week during late September.
According to AAA, the distance round trip between Chicago and San Francisco equals 4212 miles, and gas price equals $332.04. The driver would use 110.84 gallons in this particular Toyota. Time to drive this distance would equal about seventy hours, or thirty-five hours one way (one and one-half days) if the driver maintained a consistent sixty mph speed with no stops for food, gas, rest stops, or hotels.
American Airlines and United Airlines coach tickets were the least expensive from Chicago’s O’Hare airport (ORD) to San Francisco’s International airport (SFO). The cost of the flight, with two stops at Omaha, NE (OMA) and Denver, CO (DEN), departing 22 September and returning on 29 September (Saturdays), came to $272 per person, or $544 total (including all taxes and fees), at Priceline. Trip duration averaged at eight and one-half hours.
Although flying to San Francisco from Chicago cost $211.96 more than driving, the advantage comes with time saved. Unless you and your companion are willing to trade off on driving and sleeping in the car, you would need to add hotel room costs into the driving total. If you drove a little over ten hours per day, that trip would extend to three days, with two hotel rooms at an average of $70 per night, or $140 total. Remember that you’ll be crossing the Rocky Mountains on your trip, and few roads in that area are conducive to exceeding the speed limit. These roads will slow you down, although you could make up that time across Nebraska and in Utah if you’re willing to risk a speeding ticket.
If you choose to take your time, the addition of hotel rooms and food costs to the driving total could easily exceed the difference in price between driving and flying. Of course, you might need to add parking fees to the flight total and food costs as well. But, if you take the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Blue Line to O’Hare, that ticket would cost a mere $1.75 one way with $.25 transfers. This cost is based upon getting to a Blue Line station by walking (feasible for many inner-city dwellers) or with a ride from a friend. The taxi ride or rental car that you might need upon arrival in San Francisco isn’t figured into this equation.
Finally, if you spend three days driving one way, you’ll spend six out of seven days on the road with only one day in San Francisco. Flying, however, will give you five full days out of seven to enjoy your destination. We also checked a few other dates to see if flying on a Friday or Wednesday on or near the 22 September date would make a difference in the flight cost. The Wednesday date did make a difference. A roundtrip flight booked on 26 September with a return on 3 October was $229 per ticket. So, if you could travel mid-week, that ticket would save $43 per ticket for a total of $86, bringing the difference between flying and driving down to $125.96 (without hotel rooms and food configured into that driving cost). In this case, it would be cheaper and less taxing physically to fly.
Roundtrip Portland, Maine to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This time a family of four – two adults and two children under age ten – will decide how to travel from Portland, Maine to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see grandma during Thanksgiving. They own a 1999 Ford Taurus wagon. Thanksgiving 2007 falls on Thursday, 22 November, so this family plans to depart Portland two days prior on Tuesday, 20 November (yes, they took the kids out of school one day early) and depart Pittsburgh on Saturday, 24 November, so they can use Sunday to rest and gather their wits for the upcoming work/school week.
This time, the mileage equals 1348 round trip, the gas will cost $143.24, and they’ll use 51.84 gallons of gas total. Total driving time equals almost twenty-three hours, or eleven hours one way averaging 60 mph. If the driver is up to driving eleven hours, not including pit stops for bathrooms or for eating, the trip could be concluded in one day. However, many parents might opt for a hotel room with two double beds to take a break at the halfway point. If so, this would add at least $70 to the final cost.
Unfortunately, the lowest priced roundtrip tickets ($426 per person including taxes and fees for a total of $1,704) between Portland (PWM) and Pittsburgh (PIT) included two stops in Newark, NJ (EWR) and Cincinnati, OH (CVG). Some parents who are traveling with two children won’t want this option unless they’re unwilling to drive and are willing to pay more for the plane tickets. Children might get fussy with all the stops, take-offs, and landings. But, the only other option also includes a stop in Washington, DC (DCA). This roundtrip ticket costs $468 per person. The total for a family of four, with the one stop instead of two, would equal $1,872.
Although some might argue that the time spent flying is better than time spent driving with two kids, in this case that argument doesn’t hold much water. The total time for the flight with just one stop is approximately 5 hours. With two stops, the total time for the flight would be approximately seven hours. Either flight, even with short layover times, comes to only half the time or less than it would take to drive. The least expensive tickets were offered in both cases by Delta in coach.
Although it might be more fun for the kids to fly than sit in the back seat of a Taurus for eleven hours, the time and money factors are working against the flight option. If this family chose the least expensive airline tickets for a total of $1,704, they would pay $1,560.76 more for those tickets than they would for gas, and they would save only four hours’ drive time. That equates to about $390 per hour for each hour saved on the road. As a parent, I would think about the really nice hotel that our family could stay in along the way for a fraction of that cost. Plus, the family wouldn’t need to rely on a rental car or on a family member to cart the family around in Pittsburgh if they flew.
So, grandma might not be able to spend as much time with her grandchildren as she’d like if the parents spread the trip out over two days both ways, but the family might be much more relaxed than if they took three flights both ways or if they spent more than eleven hours on the road in one day. One way to save money on traveling from Portland to Pittsburgh is to move grandma closer to Portland. Being cut out of the will for an unwillingness to travel over the holidays isn’t an option.
As an alternative mid-price option, this family could choose to rent a newer model car that might prove more comfortable. If they lived in Portland, they might pick up a MiniVan at the airport on the night of 19 November after work, and return that car on the day following their return. At Priceline, a MiniVan goes for $384/week for a total of $464 at National (including taxes and fees). In other words, if that family decides to keep the car for the full week, that $464 would drop to $384. For gas, if they ended up with a 2007 Chrysler Voyager/Town and Country, their fuel costs would equal $148.96. Total cost for the full-week rental would come to $532.96. Add a hotel room for one night and some food, and the total may come to about $700 (hotel room at $70, dinner at $15 per person average, and breakfast at about $10 per person average). This option is still $1,004 less than the least expensive airline ticket.
Roundtrip Atlanta to Pensacola, Florida
A single college student who lives in a dorm in Atlanta is heading home to Pensacola, Florida for Christmas break. The dates of this break are from 20 December 2007 to 6 January 2008. The student doesn’t have an option about when he can travel, as the dorms shut down during the vacation holiday. This student owns a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta.
AAA states that this student will drive a total of 648 miles round trip, will use 24.92 gallons of gas, and the cost will total $67.20, or $33.60 one way. The trip will take approximately 6 hours if that student drives an average of 60 mph without stops for the bathroom, food, or gas. This is a fairly easy trip on flat land, so the student could leave early in the morning at about 7:00 a.m. and arrive in Pensacola in time for a late lunch if he needs to make two stops.
According to Priceline, the least expensive ticket for these dates totaled $278 per person, including taxes and fees. But, the flight takes only fifteen minutes, and it’s nonstop (hard to do fifteen minutes with a stop!). Once again, the lowest price was a coach ticket on Delta.
For a student who doesn’t rely on parental wallets, driving would be the only option. If the student managed to find a person to take along on the trip and who was willing to pay for half the gas, the gas price would drop to $33.60 for the round trip for that student. The flight, on the other hand, comes to about $18.50 per minute in the air, and that cost cannot be shared with another person.
If you followed along using the AAA calculator and Priceline to check the costs for your trip, you might realize that there are many factors that can contribute to costs. Though you might complain about gas prices, there are only a few situations in which flying would be more economically feasible than driving. Most of those factors depend upon unknowns that pertain to any given individual situation.
For instance, if you don’t live near a major airport, you also need to calculate the cost of arriving to and from that airport. Additionally, you may need to travel to your final destination from the arrival airport. Add the time as well as the cost that it takes to travel to and from airports, as those factors may contribute to your final decision on whether to drive or fly.
Some other tips that could help you save money:
- Rental cars vary in price for the car size, but prices also vary depending upon when you book the car. Online booking is often less expensive than renting the car directly at an airport, and weekly rentals often cost far less than rental times that are less than a week and that are based upon that weekly price.
- If you travel alone, you can arrange to have family and/or friend meet you and offer access to a vehicle at least part of the time. If you’re traveling alone on a long trip, the flight might cost the same or slightly more (sometimes less for off-season or airline specials) than driving. Driving alone for long periods of time is far less safe than flying as well, as long stretches of highway can lull even the safest driver to sleep.
- If you plan to travel to multiple destinations, figure time as well as cost into the equation. Sometimes air travel is more advantageous than driving long distances, as you’ll save time flying. If time equals money for you, then flying may be the only alternative.
- No matter what type of travel you choose, planning ahead can save money, even on holidays. Rental cars and airline tickets are usually less expensive when you can purchase them in advance.
- If you’re traveling with an infant, you can hold that child for the trip if it isn’t a long one. This will save money on a full price ticket on certain airlines. Be sure to check policies, as they vary from airline to airline. Southwest, for instance, allows one child over fourteen days and under two years of age, to travel for free if that child doesn’t occupy a seat and if that child is traveling with an adult over age twelve. A two-year-old child may be difficult to hold and to entertain on long trips, however.
- Planning ahead also applies to gas prices. If you plan to drive, you can find less expensive gas stations along the way through GasBuddy.com or through GasPriceWatch.com.
- Use a credit card for gas, rental cars, and airline tickets that will earn travel bonuses, gas rewards, airline miles, hotel points, or even cash back when you travel. Also, if you’re crossing state lines, stop at the nearest welcome center to pick up a hotel coupon book. The coupons usually are good only if you haven’t booked in advance, although some hotels will take them regardless. Between the rewards cards and coupons, you could save enough money to treat the whole family to a nice dinner on the road.
The differences in price don’t make a difference to someone who would prefer to fly than drive. Plus, if you plan to travel long distances – especially when your time is limited – flying may be your only choice. Finally, New York to London by car isn’t an option. Otherwise, plan to spend money on gas, as driving – in most instances – remains the least expensive way to travel.
Searching the Internet for freebies can be tricky. While there is an infinite amount of free stuff out there to be claimed, there are also quite a few scams and dead-ends. Many sites that claim to offer free things are only after your personal information, as they wish to spam you with unwanted solicitations. Don’t be discouraged, for we are about to save you a lot of legwork. Below, we have compiled the top 100 blogs to help you find free stuff, starting with what we feel are the crème de la crème. Beyond our “Top 20″ section, however, all blogs are organized by topic rather than importance.
The following blogs are, in our opinion, the best resources for getting free stuff. Most of these sites are general, offering anything from clothes to pet food.
- That Freebie Site features links to free sample giveaways and current contests for great prizes, such as high-end electronics.
- The Free Site is a massive project, featuring almost everything that is offered for free over the Internet. It is updated daily, well-researched and should be bookmarked by anyone who enjoys free stuff, no matter how trivial at times.
- The Frugal Duchess is an authority on frugal living and loves to share advice on how to score free stuff.
- About Freebies offers leads on current giveaways, plus helpful tips on how to get refunds, rebates, etc.
- Fat Wallet is a blog that announces various online shopping deals, coupons and free offers.
- The Best Freebies and Bargains on the Net boasts a long, descriptive title that pretty much sums it all up. It is a regularly updated source of freebies and deals that can be found on the Web.
- The Freebies Blog is an Australian site that features an array of free offers. Although some of the free stuff is only available to Aussies, the blog is worth a gander by all.
- Freebie Fanatics is truly designed for those who are addicted to free stuff. There is a little something for everyone here, from books to cosmetics samples.
- Free Stuff Finder is a friendly, polished blog with features such as “free game of the week”. Look for a wide variety of online freebies on this site.
- FreeBitz offers links to freebies, as well as surveys that can earn you free samples and coupons.
- Deal Catcher has a list of current online coupon codes for major retailers like Amazon, Dell, Best Buy and Overstock.
- Totally Free Crap offers an assortment of links to free samples, as well as tips on how to find free things online.
- Frugal Upstate often posts great deals, free giveaways and free downloads. If you would like to save money in all areas of your life, this is a great resource.
- Moneysponsor.com posts free offers on a daily basis, including samples, downloads and eBooks.
- Freebie O’ the Day delivers what its title promises, a link to one free offer a day. Although there are other sites that post a list of things each day, this site showcases very noteworthy freebies.
- Wise Bread is a frugal living blog with a section devoted to online deals and free coupons.
- Frugal For Life is about all aspects of saving money, but there are plenty of tips here about getting stuff for free.
- A Frugal Living Blog By a Frugal Guy will give you tips on how to manage a household budget, which includes getting some things for free.
- Fitness and Freebies offers health tips, along with fitness-related freebie offers. Includes health snacks, drinks and supplements.
- Knockster focuses mainly on sale items rather than freebies. However, there are many free coupon codes posted to the blog, which could save you a bundle.
Sometimes the smallest things in your life are the most expensive. Namely, electronics and children. Since you are more likely to find free baby wipe samples online than DVD players, we have compiled some family-friendly blogs below.
- Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder is updated daily, offering links to major free giveaways. This is a good resource for baby product samples and children’s items.
- Candlelight Stories is a well-made blog featuring free videos, games and crafts for children.
- Creative Kids at Home Blog features free activities for homeschooled children, as well as resources for parents and teachers.
- Curiosoft Kids Games is a blog that regularly posts free offers and games for children.
- Free Kids Coloring posts printable pages for your children to color. There are also activity pages to be found here, which is helpful for both parents and teachers.
- Free Stuff 4 Kids is a site is dedicated to finding free activities, applications and games for children. Both parents and teachers should utilize this blog.
- Jokes By Kids is a resource for free, clean jokes for and by children. This blog will keep your kids busy for a while.
- Life in Student Ministry posts a freebie each Friday, which is usually a free eBook or pamphlet on youth ministry.
- My CYC is a place for teens to create a free blog. It is intended to be a safer domain than other popular online hangouts, such as MySpace and Xanga.
While you won’t be able to complete your wardrobe for free, promotional t-shirt giveaways are plentiful if you know where to look. Also, designer clothing and handbags are often given away in contests. The following blogs will help connect you with some free duds.
- #1 My Freebies is updated regularly, with an area devoted to clothing giveaways.
- Freaky Freddies has a current list of clothing freebies, contests and coupons.
- Freebies 4 Ya has a lot of free clothing offers, as well as links to contests that will win you clothes.
- Free Stuff Hot Deals features many giveaways and contests. T-shirts are a common freebie found on this site, as are household items like laundry detergent samples. Hey, you need to wash that t-shirt, don’t you?
- Linden Lifestyles is a fashion blog with a section about freebies, including cosmetics, clothes and accessories.
- Shop 4 Freebies has a list of clothing freebies. Although not extensive, the site does offer photos of each giveaway, something most blogs don’t bother with.
- Two Moms in a Blog often list freebies, particularly clothing and accessories. This is a family-oriented blog, so there may be free things for the kids posted on occasion.
You can obtain almost all of your cosmetics for free through surveys and manufacturer Web sites. Granted, these will most likely be in the form of samples, but diligent freebie hunting will soon fill your bathroom with goodies. Rather than wasting time with search engines, find out which companies participate with giveaways on the blogs listed below.
- Bargain Hunting is devoted to deals of any kind, although the blog commonly posts about free make-up offers.
- Bon Bons in the Bath is all about pampering yourself, which includes taking advantage of cosmetics giveaways.
- Boston Gal’s Open Wallet is a personal finance blog that regularly features links to free samples, including cosmetics.
- Cheap Chica announces great fashion bargains, as well as links to free cosmetics samples.
- iVillage Beauty has a working list of make-up freebies and other cosmetics deals.
- Jack & Hill is a beauty blog that features free tips on make-up, as well as any freebie offers that catch their eye.
- Sassy Sue has a growing list of makeup freebies found online. These include brand names like L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Maybelline.
- Today’s Web-Freebies Blog is written by an experienced “freebie hunter”. Many of the freebies listed here are cosmetics samples.
Digital scrapbooking has become a very popular hobby in recent years. Scrapbooking templates for photo editing programs can cost quite a bit, so freebies are highly sought. Below, we have compiled the best blogs for quality “digiscrapping” freebies.
- Digital Freebies is operated by a generous Web designer who frequently posts free clipart and templates.
- Doris’ Scraps of Life offers scrapbooking kits at a reduced rate, as well as freebies from time to time.
- Lindsey Jane Designs offers daily free downloads for digital scrapbooking. All designs found here are original and not links to other sites.
- Scrapping SAHM will direct you to some free templates and kits. This is a labor of love by a stay-at-home mother who is passionate about the hobby.
- Scrapping With IkeaGodess is one of the most popular blogs about scrapbooking. With tips, tutorials, news and freebies, it serves as a great resource for newbies and pros alike.
- Scrappy Pony Designs Blog posts daily freebies for digital scrapbooking.
- Welcome to Our Little Scrap World offers free digital scrapbooking kits, in addition to tutorials.
- Younique Photos is a digital scrapbooking blog that occasionally offers free kits in addition to tips and tutorials.
The Internet is brimming with free games, so where does one start looking? Try the blogs below for all your gaming needs.
- Free Gamer is a popular blog that discusses free online games and open source software. Reviews and screenshots accompany each entry, which is handy for the more discriminating gamer.
- Good Experience Games recommends addictive online games, both complex and simple in strategy. There is a little something for every gamer here.
- Jay is Games provides reviews and walkthroughs of simple, online point and click games.
- Lazylaces offers original games, as well as links to classics. These games are for your own pleasure, although some will have an embed code for blog entries and Web sites.
- NicoSite is a great resource for free point and click games. Although the text is in French, the simple games won’t require a translator.
- Random Good Stuff is a funny blog, featuring anything from viral videos to weird auctions on eBay. There are also some great free games posted on occasion.
- Tyme Tech is a technology news blog. Among other items of interest, this site often announces free games and downloads.
- The Vintage Gaming Network offers over 100 free games without the need to download, although they also feature free emulators for download if you wish to play old console games on your PC.
Most English-language sites boasting free stuff are meant for American readers only. Here are some great resources for freebie hunters in other countries.
- Freebie Town links to various online giveaways, although some of these offers are only available in the UK.
- London Freebies posts free offers, coupon codes and other great deals for UK readers.
- Magic Freebies UK is a great resource for samples, competitions and other free stuff in the UK. Updates are made daily and there are also a lot of tips here for bargain hunters.
- Manchester Freebies is a guide to getting free stuff in and around Manchester, England. There are also plenty of online freebies for international readers.
- Smart Canucks features online deals and free giveaways for Canadians. People living outside of Canada may be eligible for some of the free stuff listed here, however.
When it comes to posting job leads, most people are fed up with paid boards. Likewise, job seekers don’t want to subscribe to any services. Below, we have listed the most popular blogs for job leads.
- Blogger Jobs provides leads on professional blogging positions. Although not updated daily, the leads found here are for desirable positions.
- Career and Job-Hunting Blog gives free advice on where to find a job and how to start a new career. Regularly updated, it also contains news about growing industries.
- Freelance Writing Jobs is the work of professional blogger, Deb Ng. Here, freelance writers are provided with job leads on a daily basis, free of charge.
There are so many sites out there claiming to offer free music, only to request your credit card information as soon as you try to download something. As an alternative, you could try a free peer-to-peer network… and possibly download a trojan virus. No, it is best to stick with sites like the following blogs in your quest for free music.
- Aurgasm seeks to introduce you to great music that you’ve never heard before. Complete with free downloads, music fans will appreciate this eclectic blog.
- Between Thought and Expression posts free videos and music downloads. Updates come only a few times a month, but they are often worth the wait.
- Discobelle is a Swedish blog for music fans. Offering single tracks and remixes for download, fans of house music will want to check out this ambitious blog.
- Knobtweakers is a music news blog that offers free MP3 downloads. Independent music is intertwined with more mainstream fare, ensuring that you never get bored.
- Mage Records is an independent label that produces Irish and Celtic music. Their blog offers free downloads and samples of Mage Records originals.
- Much Music offers free downloads from any genre, from new age to rap.
- Spinner is an incredible music blog that will introduce you to music not in rotation on Top 40 radio. Their “MP3 of the Day” section is popular for a reason- these are completely free, legal downloads that will bring new bands to your attention.
Although not as expensive as real babies, furry babies (i.e., pets) can cost quite a bit each year. There are ways to obtain free food, grooming supplies and toys for your pets. The blogs below will tell you where to find said freebies.
- All About Labradors carries a self-explanatory title. Periodically, this site announces freebie offers related to pet dogs.
- Cool Freebie Links features pet product giveaways, including grooming supplies, food and toys.
- Dog Blog announces new pet products and offers free pet advice. Links to dog freebies are posted on occasion, also.
- Free Stuff Channel is regularly updated, providing links to various freebies. Their pet products section is most impressive.
- MotherLoad: The Mom Advice Blog features a list of freebies every Friday, which includes pet products.
- Pet Portrait Pop Art is a unique site for pet lovers. Their freebies include screensavers, wallpapers and games related to pets.
- Polka Dot Pup is all about dogs. From dog breeds to dog news, it can be found here. For great deals and freebies for your pet dog, look to this site.
If your idea of cooking is giving the pizza place your AMEX number, then the following blogs aren’t for you. However, if you delight in trying new dishes, then forget about buying any cookbooks. These blogs give you all the recipes and tips you will ever need, for free.
- Simply Recipes offers delicious recipes, cooking tips and more. Each recipe that is posted has a beautiful photograph to accompany it.
- The Secret Recipe is a great resource for free recipes. The blog is written by a chef who attempts to recreate famous foods from your favorite restaurants.
- The Recipe Blog is written by and for foodies. If you have a sophisticated love of food, these are the recipes for you.
- Shiok provides free recipes for far-Eastern cuisine.
- What We’re Eating contains reviews and high-resolution photographs of recipes that the authors experiment with. It is an entertaining read, as well as a great cooking resource.
- Vegan Lunch Box offers creative ways to pack a vegan child’s lunch box. These colorful, delicious and all-natural organic foods will attract even the most discriminating child.
- Recipe Source Online contains more than just free recipes. There is also cooking advice, wine reviews and other information to interest foodies.
- BittBox is a great resource for free graphic design downloads and tutorials.
- Flatline Web Design offers tips and free downloads to those whose Web sites have “flatlined”.
- Fontleech posts the newest and most interesting fonts to hit the Net, most of which are available for free download.
- Pogue’s Posts is a popular technology blog that intermittently features free Web tools and applications.
- Scott Kuhl’s geek blog features all the latest tech news, as well as the best free downloads for Web site developers.
- Siberian.Ws offers open source Web templates and encourages other users to share their own designs.
- Smashing Magazine informs its readers about software, applications and other online tools that can be downloaded for free.
- Software Developer points Web designers on a budget in the right direction. There are plenty of free downloads and tips to be found here.
- Ubuntu Blog offers free tips and downloads for users. Whether you are an Ubuntu newbie or a pro, you should find this blog helpful.
- Vitaly Friedman’s Notebook is written by a Web designer who enjoys sharing freebies with readers. From blog icons to fonts, it is all here.
- Work Boxers is a blog about professional Web development, so there are plenty of free downloads featured.
While there are many “no strings attached” offers online, we would be remiss not to give you a few safety tips. You should never have to give your credit card information for anything free. Also, it would be wise not to use your main email address for any free offers. Open an email account with Yahoo! or Gmail and make that your “junk” address, as freebies will garner a lot of spam. Keeping those tips in mind, the above 100 blogs should keep you very busy in your hunt for free stuff.
The hottest time of the year is upon us and, unfortunately, rising temperatures lead to rising energy costs. The solution to your outrageous electric bills isn’t as simple as nixing the air conditioner, however. Most of us can’t stand to go without air conditioning in the summer and, in parts of the country, this lack of cooling could be downright dangerous. Don’t spend this summer maxing out your AMEX card on rising energy bills. There are some frugal adjustments you can make to your life that will chill you out, both figuratively and literally.
Cool Down Your Body
Drink Water – Are you drinking your 8-10 glasses a day? If you are like most people, then probably not. When you’re sweating a lot during the summer months, you should drink even more. Regular hydration helps to regulate your body regulate more efficiently. Even if you are just slightly dehydrated, your body will heat up.
A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water every hour or two. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, your body needs it. Some people think they can quench their thirst by consuming ice tea or a similar drink, but that isn’t true. Any kind of sugar or caffeine will only dehydrate you more. If you really want to cool down, plain water is the key.
Eat Smart - You can help your body stay cooler with the things you eat. Large, heavy meals can increase your body temperature. Try to eat more meals throughout the day that are smaller in portion. This is also a good weight loss technique, especially when combined with extra water intake. Cool snacks, such as Popsicles and fruits are always good to have on hand in the summer.
Wet Yourself – With water, that is. When you aren’t drinking it, you can submerge in it. Even a little bit of water can help. Whether it is a cool rag on the back of the neck or a splash to the face, ‘agua’ is your friend throughout the summer months. Here’s an interesting fact: applying water to pressure points on your body, such as your temple or wrists, will cool you down faster.
Swimming is also a great way to stay cool and is one of the best ways to get into shape, which is an added bonus. You may not have a pool, but there could be a community pool in the area. The most frugal option, however, is going for a dip in a natural body of water, be it a lake, river or ocean. Baths will also do the trick, but excessive bathing to stay cool will only drive up your water bill.
Dress Appropriately – Just because The Fonz wore a leather jacket year-round doesn’t mean you will get away with it, too. In the hottest part of the year, dress appropriately to keep yourself cool. Even a dark t-shirt can overheat you. If you are out and about, stick to light colors and thin materials. Also, keep in mind that natural fibers will breathe easier than synthetic materials.
Much of your body heat escapes through your feet and head, which is why you need to cover both areas in the winter and leave them bare in the summer. In situations where you can’t go without footwear, opt for something open-toed. As for hats, they will insulate your head and drive up your body temperature. Hats are only necessary in the summer if you are going to be in direct sunlight for extended periods and need protection from UV rays. If you need to wear a hat, choose a light weave straw or natural fiber hat to allow ventilation.
Stay Out of the Sun – Yes, there are some activities you will want to partake in outside, but try to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, about mid-afternoon. Early morning and early evening are the most bearable daylight hours, though you may want to invest in some mosquito repellent. If you are outside when it is scorching, take some water with you and try to stay in the shade.
Cool Down Your House
Close the Blinds/Curtains – You need to keep your house as insulated as possible in the summer. Heat comes in through windows very easily if they aren’t covered. Sure, it’s pretty outside, but your air conditioner will work overtime if you draw your curtains/blinds. Make sure that everyone in the house knows to keep the windows covered. This simple rule will save you more money than you realize.
Keep the Doors Shut – “Close the door, we can’t afford to air condition the whole neighborhood!” Many of us heard that or something similar from our parents at one time, and they weren’t just being old grouches. They were struggling to pay their high electric bill every month, just like you are now. Don’t let anyone in the house leave the door open for extended periods. If you are speaking with someone at the front door, step out and close the door or let that person in. Leaving the door open just a minute or two can really heat up the house.
Some people think that opening doors or windows will let a breeze in, thus cooling off the house. You won’t be letting the breeze in – you will be letting your cooler air out. For as long as your air conditioner is operating, it will always be cooler inside than it is outside.
Use Ceiling Fans – Using your ceiling fans is a great way to stay cool and save money. By circulating cool air, the fans will allow you to keep your thermostat at a reasonable level. Your air conditioner running at a moderate rate, combined with the use of ceiling fans, should make you feel quite comfortable during the summer. On that note, reversing the blades on your fans will assist your heater during the winter. Used wisely, ceiling fans can help you save money throughout the year.
Invest in Solar Screens - Although you are searching for ways to stay cool while saving money, this purchase will actually do both in the long run. Solar screens, affixed to the outside of your windows, will block the heat of the sun better than blinds and curtains combined. This is one of the cheapest ways to make your house more “green“, costing several hundred dollars for a modest-sized home.
If you live in a warm climate, these screens will probably pay for themselves with money saved in just one summer by reducing your energy costs. Still concerned about the initial price? Charging the screens to a low-interest rewards card should reduce the sticker shock. Also, you will be able to deduct the cost of the screens from your taxes the following year, so save that receipt!
Weatherstrip Your Doors and Windows – Weatherstripping your doors and windows will allow for even more insulation, which is helpful in both summer and winter. You may not even realize that cool air is seeping out of your house during the summer through tiny gaps around the doors and windows. Likewise, the cool air seeps back into your house during the winter. Weatherstripping is a simple DIY project that will cost a nominal fee when compared to the money you will save each month. Combining weatherstripping with solar screens is optimum and you will be able to see the difference in your energy bill as soon as the first month.
If you are having a rough time sweating it out in the hot sun this summer, then your rising energy costs probably don’t make you any happier. However, there are simple ways to make both your body and your home more relaxed. The above tactics will not only improve your personal comfort and reduce your monthly bills, they will help you protect the planet by conserving energy. It is a winning combination for everyone.