Keep Your Budget Cool This Summer With 6 Tricks to Beat the Heat

Woman enjoy the cold waters of fountain during a heat wave.
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As summer drifts into the hotter-than-a-steam-room-with-your-in-laws days, you don’t have to be miserable and just sweat it out on the couch because blasting your AC is expensive.

Your legs will stick to the couch, anyway, and you might lose skin.

Instead, get creative, and enjoy summer while being smart about your money.

Here are a few tips you can use to keep cool this summer without burning up your budget.

1. Get Cool in the Car

woman leaning on the car window while driving
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OK, so you don’t want to sit around the house blasting the AC. That’s legit. How about making some money while letting your sweet ride chill you out?

Try driving with Lyft.

To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.

You can work days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!

Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many Lyft drivers also sign up as a driver partner with Uber.

As a driver partner with Uber, you’re an independent contractor. You set your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want.

If you want to give it a try, here are a few things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you’re under 23 years old), have a valid U.S. driver’s license and pass a background check.

Finally, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by in-state insurance.

2. Reward Yourself With a Refreshing Adult Bevy

elsey Buxton, Stamatios Kapous, and Justin Morrison head to a happy hour in the downtown area of St Petersburg
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Seriously, after battling the heat all day long, you deserve to treat yourself to a nice cold drink. Yeah, you can do that and still not break the budget.

How? By saving with Ibotta.

Here’s how it works: Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.

Bam. Cash back.

Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.

Some cash-back opportunities we’ve seen include:

  • $2.50 back on a 12-pack of Newcastle Brown Ale.
  • $1 Back on a 6-pack of New Belgium beer.
  • $2.80 back on a 12-pack of Budweiser or Bud Light.
  • $2 back on a bottle of Toad Hollow wine.
  • $2 back on a bottle of D’Orsay Rose.
  • $5 back on a 1.75L bottle of Ketel One vodka.

And that’s just a few of the possibilities. Look for your favorite drink and see what you could save. Then pour a nice, cool glass and enjoy having survived another stifling hot summer day without going broke. Heck, you may even be a little richer than you were this morning.

3. Run Your AC Strategically

digital thermostat on a wall
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When you step outside, you can feel your clothes sticking to you in places you don’t want to think about. Your hair? Forget it.

When it’s this hot outside, all you want to do is stay in. That’s cool. Well, at least you can keep it cool if you don’t mind revving up the AC like it’s an Indy car. The problem is your power bill will race up, as well.

But it doesn’t have to.

If you live in California, you can earn extra money by syncing your utility accounts to an energy-saving program called OhmConnect and agreeing to help reduce energy usage a few hours each week.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for a free OhmConnect account, and sync it with your online utility account though Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric or Southern California Edison.
  2. Once or twice a week, you’ll receive a text message to participate in an #OhmHour, an hour of reduced energy consumption. Turn down unnecessary lights, hold off on doing the laundry or the dishes and opt for a fan instead of the AC. It’s a perfect time to go outside, play games on your phone, or go to dinner or the movies.
  3. OhmConnect will pay you for reducing your electricity consumption during #OhmHours.

Your earnings are based on how much power you save. The more you save, the higher your OhmConnect status, which helps you earn even more.

Plus, you can bank an extra $20 referral bonus for each friend you get to sign up.

4. Earn an Iced Latte, No Sweat.

woman drinking starbucks coffee
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You know who has great AC and can score you a free, frosty drink? Stores. A whole bunch of them.

All you need to do to start earning is download the Shopkick app.

Once you sign up, the app pays you in “kicks” for walking into certain stores (including Walmart, Target, TJMaxx and more). Ah…feel that air conditioning? You can redeem kicks for gift cards to a number of retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Sephora and Best Buy.

Once you’ve earned enough kicks, grab that Starbucks gift card and enjoy a cool drink.

5. Earn Money Using Someone Else’s AC

Happy mother and daughter enjoying while lying in a tent at home.
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Why use your own AC when you can bask in the coolness of someone else’s?

Keep your eyes and ears peeled, and offer to babysit while friends or co-workers go out for the evening — you could earn $50 to $100 in a night.

If you don’t want to bother the people you already know, sign up with Care.com.

Once you create your profile on the app, you can browse babysitting jobs in your area. Parents post to the app looking for full-time nannies, date-night sitters, last-minute care and even pet or senior care and housekeeping.

6. Support Green Energy (and Get a $20 Gift Card)

Power lines line the California landscape in Kettleman City, west of Visalia, Calif.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You can use your energy bill to support renewable energy — no matter where you live.

With renewable energy company Arcadia Power, you can offset your monthly energy consumption with 100% renewable sources in about two minutes.

Arcadia Power matches each kilowatt-hour of power you use with a kilowatt-hour of wind energy. Basically the company purchases certified renewable energy certificates in your name, so others can take advantage of clean energy in their area.

When you sign up your home or apartment (yup, renters are eligible, too!) with Arcadia, you’ll get a free $20 Amazon gift card.

Plus, Arcadia will search for a lower energy rate in your area and send you alerts if it finds one — so it could save you even more money on your electric bill.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. He actually basks in the heat like a cat on a sunny patch of carpet. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

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