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How to Cool a Room Without AC: Our Top Tips and Tricks for Turning Down the Heat

The summer heat can be tough to bear if you don’t have air conditioning, so we’ve put together our top tips for cooling your home without AC

Air conditioning units are a common and undeniably effective way to cool a room, but not every home has such a system in place. Even if you do have central AC, it can be expensive to run and may not fully address your overheating issues on its own. Whatever your situation, if you find yourself mid another sweltering summer and unable to relax in your home, then you’ll want to try every trick in the book to curb the heat in your living areas.

Below we reveal lots of great ideas for reducing the temperature indoors, including ways to get the most from your fans and reducing how much heat your windows let in in the first place, to tackling indoor humidity and much more. So don’t sweat it – read on to discover how to keep your cool all summer long.

The best ways to cool a room without air conditioning

1. Stop heat getting in through your windows

One of the best ways to tackle the heat in your home is to stop the temperature from rising in the first place. A significant amount of solar heat gain in your home will come via your windows, so working to reduce that gain is a simple and effective preventative measure that will even make our other tips below more effective. Here are some ways to prevent heat entering through your windows:

    • Close any curtains and blinds – While it may be tempting to open your windows to allow a breeze to enter, putting a stop to the warm sunshine getting into your home should be your top priority. If simply closing your drapes doesn’t work, consider investing in insulated curtains, which are specially designed to block out heat and light.
    • Invest in window film – Want to go one better? Adding anti-heat window film to your windows will make them more effective at blocking out the sun. This tip will work especially well in older homes, whose windows are less effective at blocking out heat and UV rays. You can pay to have window film installed, or you can purchase it from sites such as Amazon and Walmart and fix it to your windows yourself.
  • Shield windows from the outside – Stopping solar heat from entering into your home is only half the battle. To truly shut out the sun’s rays, you should try shielding the windows from the outside, too. Common and effective ways of doing so are by adding awnings or covers to the end of your roof, or attaching outdoor shutters to the exterior of your windows.
  • Insulate your windows – The majority of people check that there’s proper caulking and weather protection around their windows in winter, to keep out the cold. However, it’s important in the summer, too, since properly insulated windows will keep the heat out more effectively.
  • Open your windows at night – Once the sun has set, it’s a good idea to open your windows and let in the cooler night air. Use a window screen if you’re concerned about bugs getting inside, and always remember to shut your windows and blinds before the morning heat lands.

2. Use fans to cool down effectively

Air conditioning aside, the cooling breeze of a fan is the solution most of us opt for when trying to cool down our living spaces. Here are some ways to get the most out of plug-in electric fans, as well as any models you may already have in your home:

  • Buy a high-quality fan – Investing in a well-built, high-powered fan for the warmer months is a must. Older, cheaper models tend to simply push hot air around the room before giving up entirely when you need them most. Two of our favorite models that we’ve tested are the Levoit Tower Fan, which is large, powerful, and offers a decent range of settings, and the Vortex Air Cleanse, a great option for anyone looking for a multifunctional unit; it adds air-purifying and warm-air modes that ensure it remains useful all year round.
  • Set ceiling fans counterclockwise – If you have a ceiling fan, seasonally changing its direction will help your home stay closer to your ideal temperature. In summer, ceiling fans should be set to rotate counterclockwise at a high speed. This creates a downdraft, pulling up warm air and pushing down cool air to create a cooling breeze.
  • Use extractor fans – It may appear a strange solution, but using exhaust fans such as the unit in your bathroom or your kitchen’s vent hood can draw hot air and humidity out of your home. Try running these fans during the hottest part of the day and you’ll see the thermostat drop a little, helping you stay that bit cooler.
  • Create a cross breeze – To get the most out of your fan, you should try to set it up to create a cross breeze. The exact positioning will depend on your floor plan, but the general idea for creating a cross breeze is to place one fan in front of an open “inlet” window to draw cool air in from outside, aiming this air towards an “outlet” window. Ideally, another fan would be placed in front of it facing outwards, to push out the air once it has moved through the room and warmed up.

3. Minimize your use of electronics and switch to LED lightbulbs

You might think it’s negligible, but every electronic device in your home produces a not-insignificant amount of heat when in use. The biggest offenders will be appliances that produce heat anyway, such as toasters, dryers, and your oven; but even items such as laptops, lamps, speakers, and televisions can cause the thermometer to inch a little higher. To combat these heating effects, try to only turn on devices when absolutely necessary – and either cook outdoors, if possible, or eat cold food such as salads and sandwiches.

Another significant electrical heat source common in many homes is incandescent light bulbs. Such a bulb actually expends 90% of its energy as heat, with a 100W incandescent light bulb’s filament reaching temperatures of approximately 4,600°F. To keep things cool in your home, consider switching to LED or fluorescent bulbs, both of which produce much less heat.

4. Reduce the humidity in your home

Even on days when the heat is more manageable, a humid interior can make you feel clammy, sticky and, in general, like you’re wading through hot soup. So, even though it won’t reduce the temperature in your home, reducing the humidity can make you feel more comfortable on hot days and better able to stand the heat. A quality dehumidifier will remove excess moisture from the air, reducing humidity. One of our favorite tried-and-tested options is the reasonably priced ProBreeze 50-pint Dehumidifier at $200, which is effective in medium- to large-sized rooms and can even dry clothes in a pinch.

5. Take action to stay cool at night

You might just be able to make it through the day on super-warm days, but being too hot at night can have a detrimental effect on your sleep. Losing hours of shut-eye to tossing and turning in sweaty sheets will even make the daytime heat difficult to bear, so here are some of the best ways to sleep more soundly during the warmer months:

  • Switch your bedding to a natural, breathable material such as cotton – Lightweight cotton sheets and bedding will allow more heat to escape, helping to regulate your temperature at night. These materials also have better moisture-wicking properties, meaning they absorb and release sweat quickly, unlike other materials that tend to saturate.
  • Lower your bed or sleep on the floor – Heat rises, and so the lower to the ground you are, the cooler you’ll be. As such, you can try lowering your bed if at all possible, or switch to an air mattress or futon during heatwaves.
  • Dampen your sheets and use a fan – The process of evaporation takes heat out of a wet or dampened object, cooling its surface. Slightly dampening your sheets before bed can help keep you cool at night. To stay cool once your sheets are dry, you can also try using one of our tried-and-tested fans suggested above.

6. Cool yourself down

Keeping your body temperature down will ensure you feel more comfortable, no matter how warm it is – and will also ensure you’re not contributing to the heat yourself. To cool yourself down, try to wear loose clothing made of breathable materials such as cotton or linen; stay hydrated by drinking cold liquids such as chilled water or sodas, and eat water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. You can apply ice packs or cold compresses to key points such as your neck, wrists, chest and temples, too, and move as little as possible.

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