13 inventive, free or low-cost ways to cool your home this summer

Whether you don't have air conditioning, are concerned about your carbon footprint or you're looking to cut costs, there are plenty of ways to cool down this summer at low-cost -- or at no cost at all!

One of the most overlooked ways to cool your apartment or house lies in your ceiling fan settings, which should be adjusted each season to optimize its capacity. Most models have a "clockwise" setting and "counter-clockwise" setting that actually make a huge difference. Counter-clockwise is best for summer months because it creates a wind-chill effect.

That's not all -- for those with a green thumb, planting vines or climbers can reduce temperatures of a building by as much as 50 percent, according to TreeHugger -- and they're great for your curb appeal, too.

Click through the slideshow below to learn more fun tips and tricks for keeping cool this summer:

Affordable ways to cool your home
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Affordable ways to cool your home

Change the direction of your ceiling fan.

Did you know your ceiling fan should be adjusted seasonally? Neither did we. Most models have a "clockwise" setting and "counter-clockwise" setting that actually make a huge difference. Counter-clockwise is best for summer months because it creates a wind-chill effect. 

How do you know it's working?  Stand beneath the fan and turn it on. You should immediately feel a cool breeze.

(isitsharp via Getty Images)

Or hack an electric fan.

This trick is a little more primitive ... Fill a bowl with ice and place it in front of your fan. The result? A nice, cold breeze.

(ben-bryant via Getty Images)

Ditch your incandescent lights.

Fluorescent lightbulbs, as shown, emit far less heat than incandescent ones. If you like the warm glow of your existing bulbs, shutting off unnecessary lights should help, too.

(BanksPhotos via Getty Images)

Let the air in at night.

Temperatures often drop at night. Take advantage of the natural breeze, and crack a window open during those prime hours.

(Steven Puetzer via Getty Images)

Let hot air out of your attic.

Either crack a window up there, or invest in roof vents. Popular turbine vents only cost $30 to $50.

(naffnaff via Getty Images)

"Tune" your windows.

Before the rise of the thermostat, people took advantage of their windows to help control the temperature in their homes. Since hot air rises, opening high windows will help vent hot air out of the home -- but it gets even more complex than that. Find out more about this neat trick.

(baona via Getty Images)

Keep your blinds closed.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows. Using shades, blinds and curtains can lower indoor temperatures by 70 degrees -- not to mention lower your bills!

(gerenme via Getty Images)

Buy a cooling pillow.

Pillows like the Ghost Pillow use gel technology to monitor your temperature and help dispel heat for a cool, comfortable night's sleep.

(Caiaimage/Martin Barraud via Getty Images)

Swap to a summer duvet.

You don't need all of that down for the summer. Either purchase a lighter-fill duvet for the warmer months, or invest in a silk duvet, which actually keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

(William_Potter via Getty Images)

Plant a tree.

It's no secret that trees provide some much-needed shade from the sun, but before you start digging, note that placement is also key. According to TreeHugger, trees planted within 40 feet south of your home or within 60 feet of the west side of the house will generate about the same amount of energy savings -- but a tree on the east side will have little to no impact.

(KatarzynaBialasiewicz via Getty Images)

Plant vines.

Vines can reduce temperatures of a building by as much as 50 percent by shading walls from the sun, according to TreeHugger -- and they're beautiful, too. Ivy, Russian vine and Virginia creeper grow quickly and have an immediate effect.

(swinnerrr via Getty Images)

Install awnings.

Awnings don't just provide charming curb appeal -- they can actually reduce solar heat gain by as much as 65 percent, according to the Department of Energy.

(ronstik via Getty Images)

Paint your roof.

Just as you wouldn't wear black on a brutally hot day, your roof shouldn't, either. A white roof can both cool your home and contribute to serious savings.

(Platinus via Getty Images)


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