73 Simple Ways to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning
I live in an apartment without A/C, and MAN does it get hot! I’ve spent too many days enduring the heat in summer. Not just during the day, but lying awake at night, too. Without a window or portable air conditioner I’ve had to look into other solutions to try and keep things cool.
For anyone who’s gone through the same experience – I’m sure you understand how it feels. We’d do anything to made things comfortable! That’s why I’ve put together this list.
I wanted to put EVERY possible tip into one list. If you’re fighting with heat right now, this is for you. I hope there’s at least one tip that’ll help you out!
Tips for Home
73 tips is a lot, so I’ve put them into categories.
These are all focused on little changes you can make around your home to help against the heat.
1. Keep blinds closed. Open blinds means the direct heat from the sun will get into your home. It may seem counterintuitive, but keeping them closed will help keep things cooler (especially with open windows).
2. Heat blocking curtains. Getting some thermal-insulated blackout curtains can make this effect even better. For an ugly but effective DIY alternative, throw up heat-reflecting foil!
3. Close off your hottest rooms. If your living room gets all the sunlight (and roasting hot), try to stay out of it and keep the doors closed to stop the heat from flowing throughout the home.
4. Switch ceiling fans rotation. This isn’t super well-known, but most ceiling fans actually have two ways they can rotate. By switching to an anti-clockwise downward flow, this helps to push cool air down to the floor. Check out this quick, 1 minute video from Del Mark which explains it.
5. Keep your exhaust fans on extra long after room use (bathroom, kitchen). You may not notice it, but your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans do help! Make the most of it by keeping them on for longer.
6. Leave windows open when going to sleep. Any open windows will help to circulate the cool night air and give you more cool-protection against tomorrow’s sun.
7. Switch to energy saving lightbulbs! Not only will you be saving on your bills and helping the planet, but energy saving bulbs also produce a lot less heat. Every little helps.
8. Create more shade! Do anything you can to stop that sunlight. Put up awnings, or even hang something in front of the window – it will all help. Want the craziest tip on this list? Plant trees that will grow to give you shade in the future!
9. Open windows and cycle out air in the mornings, then close to keep cool. This may seem counter-intuitive, but after flushing out all the stale air in the mornings, close your windows to keep cooler for longer. Since your home is more insulated, the outside air will warm up quicker than the air in your house. (This changes after the first few hours).
10. Use minimal electronics. We’re getting pretty miniscule here, but everything which uses electricity produces heat somewhere. Make sure to unplug every electronic that you’re not using. They even produce heat when not on standby!
11. Especially lights! Lighting is a massive producer of heat – again make sure everyone is only using lighting when it’s needed.
12. Insulation is vital! If you’re lucky enough to own your own house, attic insulation and ventilation are especially important. The better insulation you have, the less your A/C has to work. Great for coolness, and your energy bills.
13. Spray your drapes/curtains with water. The damp material gives off cool air and helps to prevent them getting too hot.
14. Try building your own AC! This may sound crazy, but this guide by lifehacker promises to help you build a ‘dorm-legal’ air conditioner at home. Here’s a video on the same method:
15. Keep emergency ‘cool’ supplies in your fridge and freezer. You never know when a heat-snap is going to hit. Keeping plenty of ice and your favorite cold foods/drinks can make things a lot more bearable.
16. Consider a whole-house fan. Whole-house fans are powerful units that are typically installed in your attic. While they’re a little expensive, they’re generally cheaper than an A/C unit and much cheaper to run.
17. Minimize heat production. Try to be conscious of how much heat you’re creating. Whether that’s with cooking, moving, or using electronics – just keeping an eye out can help you spot ways in which you can not produce as much heat.
18. Repaint the roof! Black shingles absorb heat without transferring it inside. Just make sure that repainting is okay with your warranty and the paint is intended for roofs.
19. Try out Liquid Ice Wraps. These innovative ‘wraps’ for body parts were first created for sports injuries. Basically, you wrap them around a body part and they keep everything crazy cool. Check out this wrist example. It’s a little crazy of a solution, but they’re ice cold and stay freezing for ages!
20. Keep any must-use appliances for the night. if you absolutely can’t avoid using certain things, wait until it’s cooler before you do. Washing machine, dishwasher, hoovering – it all gives off more heat.
21. Install/use screen doors properly. A surprising amount of people don’t use their screen doors properly. Think of them as a massive window to be opened at night and morning. If you have one, make sure you use it to your benefit!
22. Be wary of your furniture. Leather, velvet, suede and silk are bad for hot days. If possible, try to favor lighter materials with linen or cotton upholstery. Cover with a damp sheet or towel for bonus points!
23. Sleep/stay closer to the ground. Hot air rises, so try to spend as much time closer to the ground. Stay and even sleep downstairs for a bit less heat!
24. Focus cooling one room. If things are really bad, put all your effort on keeping just one room cool. Use all your fans, close all the other doors, and minimize electronics. It’s a lot easier to control one room than try to battle the sun over the whole house!
25. Assess your windows. Better insulated glass is much better at keeping out heat.
26. Live in the shade. Make sure you’re spending most of your time in the shaded side of your home. Even if it’s not normal. Who cares if your kitchen becomes your new living space if it’s on the shaded side of the house!
27. Keep humidity low where possible. A damp sheet is fine, but don’t dry a heap of clothes inside. Consider a dehumidifier if you’ve got a lot of humidity. Things only get sweaty, sticky, and uncomfortable.
28. Seal and caulk doors and windows to prevent unwanted air movement. Don’t let your cool air escape! Insulation is the name of the game. Trying to keep a room cool with an ‘airy’ door frame is like trying to inflate a tire when it has a puncture!
Body & Mind
Next up are tips for you and the family! These tips are ways to help you cool yourself down, even on the hottest day.
29. Keep your feet cold. Your feet and your head are two of the least insulated parts of your body. That means if they get cold, it won’t be long until you’re cold. Putting your feet in a bucket of cold water and ice will work wonders. It can feel like you’re opening a valve and letting the heat out!
30. For a quick fix, cool your wrists and neck. Just like with your feet, running cool water over your wrists or splashing it onto your face/neck is a quick way to cool down. Especially cooling your wrists because of the blood there.
31. Cold showers! ‘Screw that!’ I hear you say, but wait: don’t do it too cold. Freezing cold water means your body starts producing heat like crazy, leaving you sweating after you’ve dried off. Keep things ‘comfortably cool’ instead.
32. Don’t stress yourself. This is super important. Stress can make us hot on it’s own, but also rush and do things that’ll make us heat up more. Keep it chill, take it easy. Be relaxed, walk slowly, and take your time to do everything.
33. Use wet washcloths. Just like with your feet, a damp washcloth on your face (or feet!) can be soothingly cool.
34. Use your mind. Breathe slowly and picture being on a cold adventure. Especially if you’re stuck awake on a hot night. Imagine the crisp and cold feeling of snow in your hands as you breathe ice cold air through your nose and feel it in your chest. Feel the slight numbness of your fingers as you make a snowball, while being able to see your breath as you look out over the icy mountains.
35. Use mint bathing products. Lotion, peppermint soap, or even minty foot soaks. The crisp, fresh feeling from mint keeps skin refreshed and feeling cool.
36. Let yourself get used to to the heat. Being used to AC all the time makes things feel worse for you. If you can afford to, spend a day taking in hotter temps to increase your ‘tolerance’. 90C may seem horrific if summer’s just starting, but you can also learn to be grateful for it after being in 100C!
37. Use aloe vera aftersun instead of moisturizer. Helps to keep skin cool and gives instant relief for hot areas.
38. Find a favorite ‘hang-out’. During peak temperatures, going to the library, café or gym can be a saving grace with their proper AC systems. Not to mention a great excuse to get out and be productive or just meet friends.
39. Get a haircut! This is really ridiculous, but having a lot of hair can be the same as wearing hats all the time. A shorter and thinner cut can really make a difference – especially since your head is so heat sensitive.
40. Stay distracted. Watch a movie, get some work done, even just have a friend round to complain about the heat with. Anything to take your mind off of the heat. You could even read some really awesome appliance articles on this website!
41. Take afternoon naps. Mexico and Greece don’t have siesta cultures for nothing. Naps are an amazing way to skip through the heat and enjoy more time awake in the cool night. Prioritize your own comfort ahead of keeping a ‘normal’ schedule – try to arrange appointments/friends for later or earlier in the day.
Your bed is important enough to get it’s own category. If you’re struggling to sleep in the heat, these tips are for you.
42. Check your bedding. The bedding you sleep on has a huge effect on how hot you feel at night. Try to find duvets and covers made of cotton (breathes well), linen, or tencel. If you want to get really serious, a company called Sheex are producing some great duvets especially to keep you cool.
43. Dampen your bedsheet. If you’re just using a sheet to sleep under, dampen it to make it feel cool.
44. Practice really having two sides to the bed. If you’re sleeping alone in a double bed, make use of the whole ‘cool side’ if you’re ever lying awake at night.
45. Get a “chillow”. These innovative pillows get filled with cold water and has insulation to keep it cold for hours. The colder the water, the colder your pillow. If it’s too strong, you can also put it underneath your normal pillow and just flip that round every so often.
46. Consider your mattress. The material of your mattress plays a huge role in how hot you are at night. If it’s a densely packed spring mattress, or memory foam, then you’re gonna be cooking. Consider getting a cheap straw or bamboo mattress for a while until the heat fades.
47. Get a cold-water-bottle. If you have any hot water bottles leftover from winter, fill them with water and place in the freezer. At night they can provide great relief. Try having it against your check or behind your head.
48. Hammock it up. There’s a reason hammock’s are linked with exotic islands. They’re excellent at keeping air flowing around you and keeping you cool at night. They’re not quite the same as a king bed, but if you’re feeling adventurous they’re no joke!
49. Check out BedJet. Another ‘cool’ idea for keeping cool at night is using BedJet. This system uses a small machine to cool (or heat) a thin layer in your bed. This helps keep you cool all night, and can even be used in the winter for warmth. Check them out here.
Next category – clothes! Here’s 5 quick tips for what you wear in the heat.
50. Keep it damp. Having slightly dampness on your clothes will help to keep them feeling cool/cold. Run an old t-shirt under cold water and put it on for some cool relief.
51. Have misting sprayers on standby. If the above is working, have misting sprayers to keep things ‘topped up’ in terms of dampness. These are also handy for a quick face/neck spray. Tip: almost-freeze the mister water for best results!
52. Get a sockful of ice. Wrap a few socks into each other and place a bunch of ice in the middle. Place against your neck or forehead and feel the cold.
53. Don’t sleep with warm pajamas. If you’re not comfortable sleeping with less, make sure your pajamas are suited for hot summer nights. Cotton, linen, or silk pajamas are great at not taking on too much heat.
54. Wear cool clothes. I’m not talking about your fashion style (though I hear from your friends you’re a badass when it comes to looking great!). Instead, try to make sure you’re wearing clothes with material suited to hot temperatures.
Food & Drink
Almost there! Just like what you do to your body, what you consume is just as important. Don’t sabotage yourself with spicy food and cookies!
55. Drink/eat mint. Get that instant release from menthols or minty drinks to make the air you breathe seem way cooler than it actually is.
56. Be smart with cooking. Try to avoid cooking hot food, and if you do use heat, make sure it’s quick (stir-fry, steaks) not long (hot-pots, stews).
57. Have Barbecues! Why heat up your entire house with cooking, when you can do it inside. A lot of people think a BBQ is only for a special occasion, but when it means a good meal without heating up the house, there’s no reason not to do them all the time. You could even use a Pizza Oven for an unforgettable garden party.
58. Prioritize water, avoid alcohol and coffee. Alcohol and caffeine are proven to dehydrate you and make the heat feel so much worse!
59. Have great frozen treats. Having ice-cold desserts or snacks to look forward to can help mentally get through the day.
60. Make sure you’ve got plenty of chilled drinks. A good combination of flavors and types can make sure you’re motivated to keep hydrated throughout the day.
61. Make your own snow. While this isn’t the most efficient way to cool, it can be a great activity with kids. Make sure to put it in the freezer afterwards!
62. Try out chrysanthemum tea. This is a hugely popular herb in China, with a whole host of health benefits. Apparently, in certain places you have people drinking it everywhere! There’s a good rundown of its health benefits here, but for our interest, it’s also great for cooling and reducing inflammation. If you want to try it, check it out on Amazon here.
63. Create real ‘iced-drinks’. Freeze entire water bottles. Take them out one at a time and drink from the ice-cold water throughout the day.
64. Fill a bowl with ice. Use it as your own personal oxygen tank – blow on it to get cool air in your face, and breathe in for some relief. Use in an emergency!
65. Keep an eye on your food. It should be obvious, but avoid spice! Even if you think “it’s just a little bit”. Avoid salty foods (dehydrating) and carbohydrates which will release energy and make you hotter (easier said than done, I know..).
66. Eat small meals. Our bodies can be like an engine – filling it up with hot food equals a lot of heat. Light, small meals throughout the day are a much better way of keeping things in first and second gear.
67. Don’t let air get stale – use a fan! I once spent a week in the heat in a new place without a fan. The difference was night and day! Keep freshly ventilated and flowing air circulating throughout your home to stay comfortable.
68. Be smart with windows and airflow. Try to block out the sunny side, and get airflow through the shady side.
69. Use ice under a fan to create a miniature home-made AC. It sounds crazy, but it works to create a cool flow of air.
70. Set up fans in ‘cross-breeze’. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one fan, set them up to ‘cross-flows’ which will help circulate a lot more than both in the same direction. Or use them in combination to push hot air out and move cool air around.
71. Blow warm inside air out at night. Unfortunately we can’t “pull” in cool air at night, but “pushing” out hot air also works well. Direct your hot air out, and it will get replaced by the cool night air.
72. Sleep with a quiet fan. Not all fans are made equal, and some are blessedly quiet. Check out our guide to some here. Aim them either at you or facing in from an open window to create a cool sleeping zone.
73. Try a Vornado fan! Vornado have some of the best fans in the world at air circulation. They’re amazing. So amazing I’ve written an entire guide to their fans catalogue. Check it out here.
Being stuck in the heat sucks. Really, really sucks!
I hope this list has given you at least a few ideas of ways you can beat the heat without forking out for an expensive A/C system.
Just in-case you’re caving and are considering getting an air conditioner.. don’t miss our popular guides on the quietest portable and window air conditioners.
If you’re still stuck, I’ve listed some of other summer posts below. Check them out for more ideas!