As I took a vow of poverty (read, chose to work in theater and then pursue a masters in this lucrative field), I have abstained from purchasing and installing an air conditioner in my apartment...for the fourth summer in a row. To be honest, I wear this like a badge of honor and it's really not that badass. My apartment is the entire second floor of a three story building so I'm sort of cocooned. As long as I keep my blinds closed during the day and windows wide open at night, it's not so bad. We get a few sticky sweaty days in August where all you can do is lie on the couch directly in front of a fan and suck on ice cubes, but on the whole, it's liveable. However, since I am the master of keeping cool without maxing your e-bill, I felt it only right to share my wisdom with you. Here are my cheap tips for staying cool:
10) Take a tour of the nearest IKEA. I realize that this one doesn't work for anyone who lives more than a handful of miles from one, but there's a convenient way to get to Brooklyn's IKEA from pretty much everywhere in NYC. I guarantee you will lose at least an afternoon in this endeavor (if only because you cannot find your way out), and there are 50 cent (maybe $1) hot dogs and sodas at their snack bars.
9) Buy popsicles in bulk. Bonus points if you buy them from Costco in the cold of winter when they're on super sale.
8) Go shopping without your wallet. Some of you may have more self control than I do, and you can feel free to bring your wallet, but I don't recommend it. I frittered away several cool hours in a department store last weekend and didn't spend a dime.
7) Stay very, very still. After you turn off and unplug any and all electronics, appliances, and lights you'll cut your e-bill in half and stay cool. Better yet, adopt a vampire lifestyle in which you sleep during the day and wake at night, it's cooler without the sun and your body temperature drops when you're sleeping (I think?).
6) Throw an annual spring or autumn party (this one takes a little foresight). Invite all of your friends who have air conditioners. In the summer, it will be their turn to play host and guess who's on the guestlist? YOU!
4) Join a gym. This one may sound counterproductive, but those places are air conditioned and many have great deals for the summer. The $40 you spend every month is way cheaper than the jump in your ConEd charges after you install an air conditioner. However, if you're not convinced it's worth the cost, I'll let you in on a little secret: Most gyms offer 1 week-1 month free trial periods, just "try out" a few. Also, the less body fat you have to insulate you, the cooler you will be. Win/win, right? (this one might be justification for my lazy ass that just can't get up early enough to run before it's unbearably hot)
3) Get a library card! Since I moved to New York, I read a lot more in the summers. For a long time I couldn't figure out why this was, but now I realize it's because they're all SUPER COLD in the summer. Free entertainment with an AC, score!
2) Get a job somewhere with air conditioning. Go there everyday. Pick up extra shifts, work late, do whatever you have to do to get paid to be in that cool environment.
1) Buy a Brita and keep it in your fridge. All kidding aside, this is the NUMBER ONE thing that gets me through the summer. Water is free. My Brita has paid for itself a thousand times over, and it never fails to provide me with delicious cold water when it's sweltering.