Unless you're reading this in Alaska, you know that our area suffered through a brutal heat wave this month. It's important to stay hydrated during the heat but buying bottled water and fancy drinks can get expensive. Read on for tips to keep cool and save money on beverages this summer.

Water

Don't pay for bottled water. Period.

Yes, there will be times when you're away from home and a source of free tap water. I'm talking about the cases of bottled water that you buy to bring to work, or to sip around the house. Why would you spend your hard-earned dollars on bottled water when you're going to drink it standing next to the kitchen sink?

Water bottles are also bad for the environment. You can recycle plastic bottles, but each bottle must be cleaned and melted down before it can become a "new" bottle, wasting energy and water. Why not buy a reusable, BPA-free water bottle for work and play, and save the store-bottled stuff for special trips?

I know that some homes have "bad" water. Our home's water has sulfur during droughts so we're changing our carbon filter pretty frequently right now. Purchasing a filter system has been an inexpensive way to improve our water quality, and it's saved us hundreds of dollars each summer by making our tap water more palatable.

Caffeine and energy drinks

I love iced coffee, and I could drink it by the gallon during the summer! Fortunately, we brew our own coffee and chill it, which means that my favorite drink doesn't cost too much money. But keep in mind that caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea can actually dehydrate some people. Don't rely too heavily on these beverages during the summer.

Sports drinks are also popular during the summer, and they can be a great source of sodium and potassium (the minerals that we "sweat out") on a hot day. Manufacturers have done a great job advertising these drinks as a cure-all for hot days and athletes.

Of course, be honest with yourself are you really active enough to need a sports drink, or does it just taste good? Don't waste your money on high-performance drinks when the most activity you'll do is swinging on the front porch. If you can't stand the taste of water and drink a lot of sports drinks during the summer, try diluting these sugary drinks with water. You won't miss the sweetness, and you'll save a bit of money.

Other water sources

While it's important to drink fluids regularly, foods can also be a great source of water! There's a reason that ripe, juicy watermelon is so popular during the summer.

Adding seasonal fruits and vegetables can be a good way to keep yourself hydrated without spending extra money. You have to eat, right? Choose thirst-quenching foods over dryer foods to keep dehydration at bay add an apple to your lunch, or eat a small bowl of peaches or pears for dessert. These foods are great for staying hydrated, and they're much healthier than eating a bag of chips. Many water-filled foods are also low in calories!