I was pulling into my driveway the other day when the DJ came on the radio and announced that her air conditioning in her home had gone out right in the middle of a heatwave.
To make matters worse, the repair company couldn’t make it out to her home for almost 3 weeks because of the number of broken air conditioners they had on their schedule.
Which led me to think, how did people once live without air conditioning? Still, also, how would my family keep our home cool?
See, in our new home, we don’t have the typical HVAC unit which can create a challenge of keeping our home cool enough during really hot temperatures, but we also don’t have a very high electric bill either.
So this is a tradeoff I’m willing to handle, but by a number of people calling into the radio station, keeping our homes cool when the air-conditioning is on the fritz (or there is none at all) is a challenge we all seem to face at one time or another.
How to Cool Down a Room
Here are a few tips to help you beat the heat and keep your home cooler when the air conditioning is not working well enough or has gone out completely:
1. Close the Windows
When the air-conditioning is on the fritz you should keep the sun from coming through your windows. If you use blinds, they can help you with this tremendously.
However, you’ll have to keep the blinds closed. Some people roll them up to keep the sunlight pointing up and out of your home. While other people close them down because it creates a darker atmosphere. This is really a personal choice of which you think works better.
2. Close the Doors
You would be amazed at how much heat travels through your doors. Even if you have a screen or storm door in place.
Basically, light can equate to heat. So you need to keep your home dark and the doors closed up tight to keep that excess heat out of your home.
3. Ice and a Fan
This is an old school trick that people once used years ago when most people did not have air conditioning. They would put ice in a large bowl.
Then they’d place that bowl in a location where the fan would blow across it. This creates a cool, misty breeze that feels great on hot days.
4. Cotton Sheets on the Bed
When we moved into our new home, not having a traditional HVAC unit took some getting used to. I was accustomed to having a house that was too cold, not too warm.
Still, the first thing I did to make my bedroom a little more comfortable was rolling back my comforter at night and made sure we used only cotton sheets. Cotton breathes where other materials don’t and this can cause your nights to be a lot hotter.
5. Use Those Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a tremendous help in keeping your home cool enough. They keep the air moving constantly which obviously cools your home down.
Even so, be sure that the fans are rotating counter-clockwise during warm weather. This helps your house cool better.
6. Focus on You
Sometimes when you can’t get the room temperature down, you can still get your body temperature down. You can do this by consuming cold beverages, applying a cool cloth to your neck or wrist area, and by putting on cooler (and breathable) clothing.
Also, try freezing 2-liter bottles with water in them. Then place them under your feet. I do this to keep us and our rabbits cool. If it will help keep a warm-blooded rabbit cool, it should help you as well.
7. Use Your Exhaust Fans
Most people have exhaust fans in both their bathrooms and their kitchen. If you have them, then use them.
Basically, the way they can pull steam out of your home when cooking, they can pull heat out of your home too.
8. Whole House Fans are Amazing
Until we were home shopping, I had never seen a whole house fan. They are mainly in older homes, but after seeing one in use, I really want one in our home.
It is this vent (usually in a hallway) that you turn a knob, the vent opens, and the fan comes on. It then sucks all of the hot air out of your home. Here are some of the benefits of a whole house fan if you are interested.
9. Open Your Windows Strategically
In our old house, it stayed pretty cool, but I paid a high price for it when the electric bills came. Every summer I’d declare war on my electrical bill and would try different things to lower it and keep our home cool naturally.
So one of the things I did was to strategically open our windows. I’m an early riser, and I’m up when it is still cool outside in the mornings. I’d open up the windows in the morning to cool the house down, then shut them when it got warm outside. That way at least our home would be at a decent temperature in the mornings.
10. Energy Efficient Bulbs
Regular light bulbs are not energy efficient, but they produce another problem as well. They radiate a lot of excess heat when they are producing energy.
This obviously causes a problem if you have no air conditioning because it is just compounding the problem of heat. Switch to energy-efficient bulbs. They don’t produce as much heat.
11. Cook Strategically
My mother-in-law taught me this tip on keeping your home cool when the temperatures outside heat up. You’ll either cook with your stove in the morning when it is still cooler outside or stop cooking with your stove.
12. Add Some Permanent Shade
If your home has no protection from the sun, then it will continue to beat directly down on top of it. This is a problem because it means your house will be super hot.
However, you can fix this by adding awnings to your windows, covered porches which will help provide some shade, and even adding shade trees. The less the sun can directly hit your windows, the better off you will be, and the cooler you’ll stay.
13. Freeze Your Sheets and PJ’s
I read an article once that told all about how people once stayed cool before air conditioning. They did a lot of interesting things, like building their homes in a way that helped them stay cool.
They also did basic things that we can do today regardless of how our homes are built. They would freeze their sheets and pajamas. It may sound crazy, but they knew the cooler their body temperatures stayed, the more comfortable they would be.
14. Freeze a Hot Water Bottle
This may sound backward, but the same way you can fill up a hot water bottle to help with aches and pains, you can also fill it with ice or cold water and freeze it.
Then you simply place it in the bed with you at your feet to keep you cool. This is a good option because of the material the bottle is made from. It won’t sweat and create a mess in your bed. However, it will also take it longer to lose its coldness too.
15. Strategically Place Your Box Fans
A lot of people will pull out the box fans when the air conditioning goes out. This is a good idea, but there is a strategic way to use them.
You’ll place them in a window, but point them facing out of the windows. This will pull the hot air out of your home and blow it out of the windows. In turn, making your home cooler.
16. Sleep with a Wet Sheet
This may sound odd, but you can make a sheet or towel damp with cold water. You’ll then place it over you to keep you cool at night when you sleep.
However, be sure to put a towel under you so it doesn’t cause your mattress to be damaged in the process. Remember, the cooler you stay, most likely the better sleep you’ll get.
17. Loose and Less
When it comes to summertime, hot weather, and no air conditioning it is important to remember two words: loose and less.
This means that you want to sleep in loose cotton pajamas that will actually breathe while you sleep. Still, also, you want to sleep in less. Go for shorts instead of pants, and a tank top instead of a full-blown sleep shirt.
18. Create a Cross Breeze
Did you know that you can actually create your own cross breeze right inside your home? Well, you can with the use of box fans.
All you’ll need to do is to place a box fan across from an open window. This will create a really nice cross breeze to cool your home down.
19. Use Your Pulse Points
If you can apply something cool to your pulse points your body temperature will drop much faster. Your pulse points are areas located on your wrists, neck, elbows, ankles, behind the knees, feet, and groin area.
So place an ice pack or damp cloth on any of those areas to help lower your body temperature and keep yourself cooler.
20. Sleep Solo
This may not work for everyone, but if you can stand to be apart from your loved one, then this will definitely help you to keep cooler.
Basically, body heat creates more warmth, which creates for a higher temperature. If you can sleep sprawled out and by yourself, then you’ll stay cooler.
21. Suspend Your Bed
If you are able to sleep in a bed that is above the ground, then you can have airflow all the way around you.
If you have a cot or a hammock that you can sleep comfortably in or on, then this might be a good option while your air conditioning is out.
22. Stay Hydrated
If you notice, a lot of these tips are to help you while you are sleeping because that is a really difficult time to stay cool and our bodies sweat so much trying to keep our body temperatures lower.
It is important to drink plenty of water before bed so you don’t become dehydrated by all of the sweating.
23. Take a Cold Shower
I was never a fan of a cold shower until it became really miserable in our bathroom to take a super hot shower (like what I once did.)
Now, colder showers feel wonderful. Just remember not to come in from being in really high temperatures and take a cold shower. This can cause you to potentially have a heart attack. So use good judgment.
24. Sleep in the Basement
If you don’t have a basement, then you’ll sleep at the lowest level of your house when the temps are hot and your air-conditioner is on the fritz.
If you didn’t know, heat rises which means if you sleep on the lowest level of your home, then the heat will rise above you, and you’ll stay cooler.
25. Put a Wet Sheet to Use
We talked about sleeping with a wet sheet over you, but you can use a wet sheet in a different form as well.
So you’ll wet a sheet with cold water, and then hang it over an open window. A breeze will blow through the wet sheet and create coolness in your home.
26. Cold Feet
Your feet have all kinds of pulse points on them, and so do your ankles. Be sure to wash your feet first so you don’t create muddy water.
However, once they are clean, place your feet in a bucket or bowl of ice water. This will help cool your core temperature down.
27. Try Out a Bamboo Mat
If you don’t have a way to sleep suspended to create airflow, then try subbing out your mattress for a bamboo mat.
Now, I know a bamboo mat is less comfortable than your mattress. Still, you also have to remember that it won’t hold heat as a thick cotton mattress will. Or you can purchase this mat to go over your mattress.
28. Ditch the Electronics
If you’ve ever touched an electronic after it has been on for a while, then you know how hot they can become.
When your electronics are not in use, unplug them. This will help put a halt to excess heat being formed inside your home.
If you need a way to cool down but don’t have an ice pack or a hot water bottle, don’t fret. You can actually create your own.
You’ll need to place rice inside a sock. Then you freeze it for at least an hour. After it is frozen, you’ll have a great little homemade ice pack.
Did you know that buckwheat could be used for more than making really amazing pancakes?
Well, it can! In fact, you can use it to stuff your pillow when you are trying to stay cooler. The buckwheat will not absorb heat like other items used to stuff pillows.
31. Cover Your Doors and Windows
I know we discussed closing the doors and your blinds, but there are extra steps you can take. When my sister-in-law found out I was declaring war on my electric bill she passed this tip along to me.
She told me to use towels and blankets to cover my windows. Then roll up towels and place them at the bottom part of the door on the floor to keep heat from coming in and cold air from escaping. Your home feels like a dark cave, but it definitely helped in our situation.
32. Window Units
My mother-in-law never had HVAC in her home. She always used window units. They worked wonderfully if you used some of these other tips to keep the heat out.
Plus, they were cheaper to repair or replace. So if you’d like to have some type of air conditioning, but don’t want to spend a fortune, then consider adding a few of these to your home.
33. Ductless HVAC
This is what we have in our new home. It is a much less expensive alternative to the typical HVAC units. It is much more energy-efficient as well (according to my electric bills.)
Basically, the ductless HVAC sucks in air from outside and transforms it into cool air or heat. It has a thermostat in the home to let it know how much to blow. However, you have to use fans to transfer the air through the home because there are no vents in the house at all.
Well, you now have over 30 different options to keep yourself and your home cool during the summer when you have no air conditioning.
As mentioned, some of these ideas can even be used to help you lower your cooling bill this summer. If you can keep your home naturally cool, then your air conditioner won’t have to work as much.