13 Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer Without an AC

13 Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer Without an AC

How To
By Dikran Seferian August 11, 2022

Summer is upon us and many of us have begun to feel the sweltering heat of the sun. Some parts of the country are experiencing severe droughts and others are bogged down in humidity. No matter what the situation, we all have the same desire to cool off and the answer isn't always as simple as turning on the air conditioner. Air conditioners can be somewhat pricey, noisy, and difficult to store so it makes sense to look for other solutions. Here are some economical and environmentally friendly ways on how to stay cool without an AC.

1. Fan Placement 

We can't stress this enough; fan placement is key. Plopping a fan down in front of your face might feel nice for a moment but it doesn't really do anything to cool your home or your body off. When possible, you should always place your face in front of a doorway or window. 

With the back of the fan facing the outside, you can be assured that the fan will be blowing fresh, cool air into your home instead of just circulating the hot stale air that's already in it. You can also create a series of fans. Think of the air as water flowing through your home and you can channel it to those rooms that might not have a window or good airflow.

2. Ancient Air Conditioning

Many ancient civilizations like the Romans and Moors had mini waterways which flowed through the rooms of a palace to lower the room temperature. Before you start digging little waterways in your bedroom, you might want to consider a much easier technique that follows the same principle.

If you’re wondering how to stay cool in the heat, try freezing a bucket, bowl, or pot full of water and placing it in front of a fan. As the ice melts and evaporates, the cool air will blow wherever you direct the fan. This can be great to set up before you go to bed. You can even set up a miniature version with a bowl and a small desk fan on your nightstand. Pro tip: add some salt to the water before you freeze it to make the ice even colder. 

3. Turn on Vent Fans

Most homes and apartments are equipped with a hood fan above their stove and a fan in the bathroom. There's no harm in putting these low-energy fans on to suck out the hot air that's lingering in your home. These are especially useful in apartment bathrooms where there are often no windows and the fan can help to create airflow.

Vent fans are a great way to get the flow of air going.

Vent fans are a great way to get the flow of air going.

4. Put Ice Packs in Your Pillowcase 

Ice packs are your friend, they might not last long but they can definitely help get you to sleep on those annoyingly hot nights with no air conditioning. Have a few stored in the freezer and put them in a pillowcase so they're not too cold on your body. Remember cold air sinks and ice packs can bust open so you're best to sleep with them on top of you instead of under.

5. Turn off Everything

This one might sound obvious but you'd be surprised how often we forget to turn off all unnecessary appliances and devices. Lights, electronics, and certain appliances can give off a tremendous amount of heat so make sure everything is off and even unplugged on hot nights. Pro tip: if you have a gas fireplace, do not forget to shut off the pilot light and turn the gas off completely.

6. Use a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans can do wonders at keeping the house cool in extreme heat. They can make a room feel noticeably cooler using only a fraction of the energy consumed by conventional air conditioners. Make sure to set the fan such that the blades spin counterclockwise in order to cool the room down — as opposed to setting it clockwise to circulate warm air during winter. This way, the fan essentially pushes the cool air downwards while a clockwise motion pulls it upwards.

Setting the ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise helps in keeping the heat at bay.

Setting the ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise helps in keeping the heat at bay.

7. Open the Windows When It’s Relatively Cool

Consider keeping your windows shut during the day when temperatures are at their highest. And when the outdoor air is cooler than the indoor air, you should be able to open the windows. This would essentially form a cooling breeze. You can also open windows on opposite ends of your house to create a current, dropping indoor temperatures faster and helping you to stay cool in the heat. To drive up the airflow speed, open a smaller window to draw in air from outside and a bigger window to expel it back out. 

8. Craft a DIY Air Conditioner

A much-needed breeze and just about anything that’s cold can help in keeping a house cool in extreme heat. There are several life hacks you can try to stay comfortable with no air conditioning. For instance, try soaking a sheet in icy water and hanging it in front of your fan or fastening a frozen water bottle to the back of it. This will essentially emulate the effect of an air conditioner. 

9. Try a Dehumidifier 

Humid heat tends to be considerably more uncomfortable for both pets and homeowners than arid heat. Dehumidifiers soak up the moisture from the summer atmosphere. This effectively makes it a lot more comfortable, even when it’s really hot — in addition to preventing different types of mold. The humidity levels of your interior spaces should ideally be under 60 percent. Using a unit that automatically shuts off when the humidity falls below the desired level allows you to save on energy costs. You can even use the water collected by the dehumidifier to irrigate your houseplants. 

Dehumidifiers can make the indoor atmosphere much more comfortable.

Dehumidifiers can make the indoor atmosphere much more comfortable.

10. Hang Cooling Curtains

While opening the windows helps in many cases, further measures may sometimes be necessary. That being said, another way to stay cool in the heat without an AC is to install cooling curtains. This method involves spraying a sheet with cold water and draping it over the open window. The breeze will basically sift through the moist sheet, cooling down the room in the process. 

11. Consider Insulated Window Films

Window films are beneficial in many ways. Not only do they reduce infrared heat by up to 98 percent, but also help in maintaining moderate levels of indoor temperature. This effectively allows you to stay cool in the heat without sacrificing the view of the outdoors and the natural light entering your home. The weatherproofing properties of this window insulation idea are also known to minimize energy costs. 

12. Add Shade Outside

Growing vines on your exterior walls shields your home from the harsh summer heat.

Growing vines on your exterior walls shields your home from the harsh summer heat.

Another solution on how to keep cool without AC is to add shade from outside your house. Anything from awnings to trees can help in keeping your home cool by shielding it from the intense heat. An awning, for example, is a window treatment idea that can cut indoor heat by a considerable amount. As for vines for shade trees, they essentially minimize the temperature by preventing the solar rays from heating up your home’s exterior walls.

13. Replace All Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent lights are known to waste up to 90 percent of their own energy by emitting heat. This not only results in higher energy costs but only higher levels of indoor temperature. Swapping them out for fluorescent or LED lights can have a remarkable effect in heat reduction with no air conditioning. As an added bonus, this simple energy retrofitting measure will allow you to cut down on energy costs down the line.


Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian