How to Cool Down a Room Without Air Conditioning

Summer days can be brutal if you don’t have air conditioning. Not to worry: There are plenty of creative ways to keep cool indoors no matter how hot it is outside.

Although air conditioning is the most popular go-to for cooling down a room fast, not every home comes equipped with a central AC system. And while window AC units can help take the edge off, they don't necessarily come with curb appeal or energy efficiency.

Luckily, there are many options when it comes to cooling down a room that doesn't have air conditioning. For starters, you can cover windows with an awning, shutters, or insulated curtains. In addition to installing an oversized ceiling or using floor fans, you can also try energy-efficient lightbulbs or heat-proofing your bed. Here are creative tricks for cooling your home through the summer months without air conditioning.

cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains
Brie Williams

1. Cover Windows

Leaving your windows uncovered during the sunniest hours of the day lets in a considerable amount of heat. When it is blazing outside, the smartest thing to do is block out the sun with an awning or shutters on your home's exterior. Inside, keep blinds and curtains closed. Indoor window covering options vary; try shades, insulated curtains, or tinting or frosting windows. These protective barriers are energy-efficient and block the sun before light and heat from entering a room.

2. Optimize the Use of Fans

Fans are a great way to keep cool, but you'll need to get creative to get the most out of them. Create a cooling cross-breeze by positioning a fan across from an open window. If you're using a window box fan, it should blow into your room at the coolest hours of the day and outward during the warmest hours of the day. You can also try placing a bowl of ice at an angle in front of the fan to get an extra chilly gust of air. If possible, adjust your ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise to pull hot air up and out.

3. Turn on Exhaust Fans

Bathroom fans and kitchen exhaust fans draw heat and humidity away from your house. U exhaust fans more regularly (not just after a steamy shower or a long day of cooking) during the summer months to cool your home. Turn them on during the day to draw hot air out of your home.

4. Turn Off Lights

Incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient. They use only 10% of their power to give off light and 90% to emit heat. Switching to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can help cool your home while lowering your energy expenses. Additionally, switch off any lamps or overhead lighting when not in use or the space is unoccupied.

5. Skip Heat-Producing Appliances

Switch up your cooking routine by giving your oven a rest. Instead, try grilling outdoors or switch to meals that don't require heating. Cold salads, veggies, and fruit-based dishes are good options. Also, avoid extended use of small appliances that give off heat, such as toasters, microwaves, or even your dryer. Sun-drying clothes on a line helps keep the heat outside.

6. Open Windows at Night

After the sun sets, open your windows to enjoy the cool night breeze. Utilize screens to keep mosquitos and flies out but let in the crisp air to cool your home overnight. Just don't forget to close the windows and curtain again before day breaks.

7. Heat-Proof Your Bed

Beds can trap heat, especially as body heat is released into the mattress and pillows at night. Keeping your head cool is critical to comfort. Use a cooling pillow, mattress, sheets, or mattress pad to help wick away body heat and moisture. Or go natural with a buckwheat pillow. Buckwheat hulls feature naturally-occurring air pockets, so they don't trap body heat like traditional pillows. Cotton or linen sheets can also help you stay cool during the summer months. Cotton provides heat-regulating properties that quickly absorb moisture to enhance your comfort.

Another trick is to sleep on slightly dampened sheets. The evaporation should cool you off. Pair it with a fan for maximum cooling benefits. Although it might sound odd, you can also try popping your bedding into the freezer before bedtime.

8. Get Low and Sleep Low

Heat rises, so the air closest to the ground is the coolest. Try sleeping on a couch in the basement or on your home's ground floor rather than on the second story, if possible. Alternatively, put your mattress on the floor to take advantage of the cooler air.

9. Focus on Your Body Temperature

In addition to cooling a room, focus on your body temperature. There are many ways to keep your body temp down during the hot summer months. Apply ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points, such as your neck and wrists. Stay hydrated with iced water and non-alcoholic drinks. And make smart clothing choices. Pick loose, breathable cotton fabrics and light colors that do not absorb heat.

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