Cheap Ways to Stay Cool: Enjoy Water from the Tap

water in faucet The frugal website Wisebread asked readers for suggestions on staying cool in the summer without air-conditioning. Since drinking is an important part of staying cool, I’ve collected tips on saving and quenching your thirst at the same time. While purchased drinks are a dispensable part of the grocery budget for many families, there are ways to save even if you already drink only tap water.

  1. Make changes gradually. It’s great to be frugal, but your family needs to come on board too. Start by buying fewer bottles of sweet drinks during each shopping trip, saving them for weekends, or diluting with tap water, gradually increasing the amount (sneaky but it works). Be prepared for some grumbling, but if you stick to your guns your family will come around. You’ll get used to drinking water too.
  2. Avoid bottled water. These are expensive and may not be regulated as carefully as tap water. And they generate a lot of garbage.
  3. Filter out the filters. Some people prefer the taste of filtered water. But filters keep out valuable minerals, and must be replaced on a regular basis. Beware of home reverse osmosis systems, which waste more water than they filter.*
  4. Keep tap water “on ice.” Freeze a glass or plastic bottle half-full. Take one out and add more water, refilling it for as long as the ice holds out. This gives you a supply of cold water for several hours, while the refrigerator stays closed.  When it’s empty, put it back in the freezer half-full. This one requires advance planning; try to keep several bottles in your freezer.
  5. Take it with you. For short trips, fill a small half-bottle of ice with water. For longer trips, freeze two bottles: one half-full, and one nearly full. Add water to the first before your trip. Use the bottles to keep your food cold, and save the second for drinking water later in the day. Keep bottles in old, clean, sports socks to soak up condensation.
  6. Save on dishwashing. Water glasses don’t need to be washed as often as those used for other drinks. Buy colored cups or mark glasses with the names of family members, to avoid taking a fresh one each time. Or paint names on a shelf or turntable. Wash the glasses twice a day.
  7. Don’t overdo it. Even though tapwater is cheap and dehydration a serious matter, it’s still best to avoid drinking excess amounts. Advice to drink a certain amount each day doesn’t take into account body weight, activity level, or the temperature and humidity. If you drink to thirst, your urine is clear, and you urinate every 2-4 hours, you’re drinking enough.
  8. Make it elegant. Pour tap water into a pretty pitcher, with a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint.

How do you enjoy your water in the summer? Share in the comments below, and at Wisebread.
The weekly recipe will appear tomorrow.

*Wikipedia: Household reverse osmosis units use a lot of water because they have low back pressure. As a result, they recover only 5 to 15 percent of the water entering the system. The remainder is discharged as waste water. Because waste water carries with it the rejected contaminants, methods to recover this water are not practical for household systems. Wastewater is typically connected to the house drains and will add to the load on the household septic system. An RO unit delivering 5 gallons of treated water per day may discharge 40 to 90 gallons of wastewater per day to the septic system.

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Photo credit: scienceheath via flickr

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Comments

  1. I can get my family to do without the soft drinks (VERY gradually), but I’m not sure I can get them to give up Brita-filtered water.

  2. Miri, I much prefer our local tap water to Brita, but Brita is still cheaper and healthier than soft drinks.

  3. I like your ideas. Do you have any links proving reverse osmosis wastes water? I’d like to pass on that information to someone, but I’d need a source.

    • Wikipedia (see Disadvantages) Household reverse osmosis units use a lot of water because they have low back pressure. As a result, they recover only 5 to 15 percent of the water entering the system. The remainder is discharged as waste water. Because waste water carries with it the rejected contaminants, methods to recover this water are not practical for household systems. Wastewater is typically connected to the house drains and will add to the load on the household septic system. An RO unit delivering 5 gallons of treated water per day may discharge 40 to 90 gallons of wastewater per day to the septic system.[7]

  4. Where I live, one does not drink tap water straight if you value your life. So what’s healthiest after that? We use tons of bottled water, but I also worry about the chemicals in the bottles.

  5. Yep. People on food stamps don’t drink it plain. Either people get filters or they buy. Example: The city’s failed a whole bunch of lead tests.

  6. Wow. I don’t know what you should do, but you first need to find out which filter methods work for the specific elements in the water, then see which is cheapest. Filters need to be replaced regularly.

  7. usually a tap filtration system is long-term cheaper than a brita-type system, tastes better, and is less likely to breed bacteria. I’m not sure a brita would even filter out lead.

  8. I agree that bottled water and filtered systems aren’t ideal. The problem is that in many cities in Israel the tap water just isn’t tasty. It really depends where you live.

    I have found that the taste improves once in the fridge for a few hours. Your idea to freeze half-full bottles is a good one. You can even add a little ‘petel’ (fruit syrup/drink) to each bottle to encourage the kids to drink. Of course, they’ll be getting sugar with that water…but in the summer, sometimes it’s worth it just to get them to drink enough.

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