updated 7/24/2006 5:16:03 PM ET 2006-07-24T21:16:03

Fidget all you want with the thermostat. In the sweltering days of July and August, chances are you'll still be sweaty — and shelling out a bundle for electricity.

When your living room seems less like a paneled retreat and more like a sauna, it's time to turn to alternative strategies for cooling down. Fortunately, they don't all have to cost a fortune.

Welcome to the newest, hottest installment of our affordable luxuries series. We hold to the principle that quality goods don't have to cost more than $200 — even when you're ready to give your kingdom for some top-notch air conditioning.

If you can't get out of the city, at least you can get into the spa. Bliss day spa, which has several locations across the U.S. and one in London, offers a Deep Sea Detox treatment that uses firming oil and French marine seaweed packs. Yes, they're hot—but there's nothing like a little pampering to chill you out. Plus, it promises to get you more bikini-ready.

If you're fortunate enough to be at the beach already, remember that the sun's ultraviolet rays can do serious damage to your skin. Stay in the shade even while sitting on the sand to avoid UV rays, as well as extra heat. Minneapolis-based Coolibar makes clothing and accessories with sun protection in mind; its beach umbrella ensemble, which makes the cut at a few cents under $200, comes with a blanket, securing spikes and a bag. It keeps out 98 percent of UV rays.

Venturing out of the shady circle? Protect yourself with skin-care products from NIA 24. The company touts its patented Pro-Niacin ingredient as a way to help skin protect and repair itself from sun damage. The broad-spectrum sunscreen ($55) uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to form a physical barrier against UV rays. It also contains vitamin E. The Skin Strengthening Complex Repair Cream ($85) was designed to make skin look better and fight premature aging from sun exposure.

Of course, one of our favorite ways to stay cool is to indulge in refreshing food and drink. Wine Cellar Sorbets are made from an ever-changing variety of wines and champagnes, including a 2004 New York Riesling and a 2004 California Pinot Noir.

If that doesn't offer enough of a chilly kick, go all the way with a couple of summer mixers. Throw the vodka-like Bambu White Rum ($35) into a drink for a cleaner, crisper flavor. And don't worry about shattering the peace with your margarita-making. Krups' new $150 blender was designed to stay hushed even when it's on high speed.

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