How to Cool a Room Without AC (25 Effective Tips)


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Do you want to save money on energy costs? Are you concerned about your carbon footprint? There are lots of legitimate reasons for ignoring the AC when the weather is hot. Regardless of your reasons, you can still find other ways to cool your room.

Here are a few ways to cool a room without AC:

  • Close the windows and doors.
  • Cool your body down.
  • Use cotton sheets on the bed.
  • Invest in overhead insulation.
  • Use your ceiling fan.
  • Use a box fan and some ice.
  • Use energy-efficient lighting.
  • Cook and wash strategically.
  • Turn on the exhaust fans.
  • Freeze your bedding.

The rest of the article will cover these points in great detail, and show you 15 other practical ways to cool a room down. As you’ll see, you don’t always have to buy, install, or switch on an air-conditioning unit to stay cool.

1. Close the Windows and Doors

If you get a cool breeze in the morning and late in the evening, it may be tempting to leave your windows and doors open all day. However, this is counterproductive, as the coolness of the morning air will be offset by the hot air in the afternoon. The impact of the cool breeze in the evening will also be reduced as it has to fight the heat in the room from the afternoon weather.

So to keep your room cool, only open the doors and windows in the morning and evening when the weather is coolest. If you’ve got glass windows, use blinds or thick curtains to keep out the sun rays. By closing the doors and windows during the day, you will keep hot air out. When the cold evening air starts flowing in when you open them up again, your room will feel cooler.

2. Cool Your Body Down

Sometimes the best way to cool a room down is by focusing on you. If you can get your body feeling cool, you will feel more comfortable in the room as your brain will translate your lower body temperature as a cooler environment. Also, if you cool yourself down, you will feel the impact of the rest of the tips covered in this article a lot better.

So, how can you cool your body down? Here are some of the things you should do:

Drink Cold Water

If you don’t feel up for some water or if it feels too bland, shake things up with some cold beverage. Cold liquids lower your body temperature and ensure your body isn’t generating additional heat in the room.

Eat Some Frozen Food

This is an excellent time to dig into that tub of ice cream you’ve got in the fridge (within your calorie limits, of course). Some frozen yogurt or fruit salad will also work. Apart from helping you to stay hydrated, these options also achieve the same effect of lowering your body temperature.

Apply a Cold Compress

You can use ice packs from your freezer as the cold compress or just freeze a wet towel. Alternatively, you can fill up a water bottle and freeze it for use.

The best place to use a cold compress is on your neck, though you can also use the cold compress on your feet, wrists, groin area, and your other pulse joints. The sensitivity of these regions will ensure you cool down faster.

If you need a reliable pair of cold compresses, I recommend this Soft Ice 2-Pack from Amazon. It’s affordable, stays cold for a long period of time, and highly durable, so you’ll get many years of use out of it.

Wear Loose Clothing

Wearing loose clothing will ensure your skin gets as much air as possible. With your body temperature lowered and fresh air reaching your skin, you won’t feel too hot in the room. Wear cotton pajamas, loose-fitting pants, tank tops, and other such clothing for the best results.

Cover Yourself with a Wet Sheet

If you’re trying to sleep in the hot weather, use a damp towel to drape over your body while lying down. You will feel your body calming and cooling down after a few minutes.

Note that you need to ensure the towel is not dripping wet before using it and that you should still have a dry towel underneath you to avoid soaking the mattress.

Sleep Alone

More people in the room means more body heat generated. This is even more true if the bodies are in direct contact.

So if you’re trying to get some shut-eye in the room, avoid body contact with your partner or your pet. If there are many people in the room, you can consider moving to another part of the house.

Don’t Eat High-Calorie Foods

Large protein-rich meals will increase metabolic heat and warm your body. Therefore, when you are trying to stay cool, you should go for other types of food. If you must have high protein foods, eat them in small portions.

Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic, so drinking it in hot weather will only promote dehydration and increase your core temperature. Coffee and tea can also have a similar effect. If you feel like drinking something, make it a glass of cold water or cold natural fruit juice.

Create a Cool-Down Routine

A cool-down routine is an excellent way for you to stay cool in hot weather without an AC unit.

Physical activity generates body heat, so settling down after one can make you feel cooler—especially when combined with some of the approaches covered above.

You should also consider adding a cold shower to your cool-down routine. A cold shower will have the same impact on your body as eating cold foods, except this time you are treating the heat from the outside. Add some peppermint oil in the bath to keep feeling refreshed long after you are done with your bath.

3. Invest in Overhead Insulation

A properly insulated house is one of the best ways to ensure the temperature in your room is comfortable throughout the year. Most people already know that insulating windows, walls, and doors can ensure cooler temperatures, but there is somewhere else you should consider insulating: your attic floor.

According to the Insulation Institute, you need to have around 14 inches of insulation on your attic floor if you live in the southern part of the United States. The recommended measurement increases to 18 inches for people living in the northern part of the country.

The reason for this is that hot attic air can warm the rooms below considerably. By insulating the attic floor overhead, your room will feel cooler.

If you already have some insulation in your attic, you can increase it to the recommended measurements on your own using mineral wool insulation or fiberglass.

4. Use Your Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans do an excellent job of keeping a room cool in hot weather. They achieve this by moving the air in the room around quickly.

For the best results, ensure the fan is rotating counterclockwise when the room is hot, as this pushes cooler air down toward you. Additionally, you should regulate the speed to match the heat in the room. The hotter it is, the higher your fan speed should be.

Don’t have a ceiling fan? There are lots of affordable and effective options on the market. Some of them include models from well-known brands like Prominence, Honeywell, and Westinghouse.

5. Use a Fan and Some Ice

A fan will not cool your room like an air conditioning unit, but you can simulate the AC feeling with a fan and some ice. This is an old trick that has been around for a long time. It involves putting ice in a large bowl and placing it in front of the fan.

The cool mist that is dispersed as the fan blows across the bowl will leave the room feeling cooler. For better results, make sure the size of the bowl of ice and the fan in use measures up to the size of the room.

6. Use Energy-Efficient Lighting

Your regular incandescent bulbs don’t just inflate your energy bills; they exude a lot of heat when in use. If you are struggling to keep your room cool without AC, you should consider switching off all your regular light bulbs in the room. If you must use the lights, swap the bulbs out completely for energy-efficient options.

LEDs are a great example of energy-efficient bulbs that won’t generate much heat in the room while switched on. They get warm, of course, but not warm enough that you can’t hold one with your bare hands. This should give you an idea of how much heat an LED bulb can generate in a room.

7. Cook and Wash Strategically

Large appliances like your washing machine and your oven will add to the heat in your home. The heat generated from using them can make your room uncomfortable for a while before the hot air eventually dissipates.

If you must cook or wash during hot weather, a good tip is to do so in the evenings and early mornings. The cooler temperatures will balance out the heat generated from the machines.

For even better results, consider cooking outdoors on your grill. You should also consider drying your clothes in the sun instead of using the drier.

8. Turn On the Exhaust Fans

Do you have exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen? You can turn them on to suck out the hot air from your home. These fans are super useful if you have to cook or wash indoors, but you can also use them to just circulate fresh air into your home.

 Pro-Tip: Leave the doors around your home open to make the task easier for the fans.

9. Freeze Your Bedding

This is another unconventional but popular way of cooling down a room. Pick your sheets, blankets, and pillows, wrap them up in a waterproof bag (like this MARCHWAY Waterproof Dry Bag), and leave them in the freezer for a few hours.

When you take them out and spread them over the bed, the mist from the materials can cool down your room, especially with a fan switched on. If you lie on the bed, the coolness of the sheets can also reduce your body temperature.

10. Install Whole House Fans

Whole house fans work like exhaust fans: they suck hot air out from the house and bring in fresh air.

The main benefit of whole-house fans is that they can keep multiple rooms cool at the same time. If you live in a home where it is possible to install whole-house fans, call your local HVAC expert to discuss your options.

Whole house fans are money savers, as they consume just 10% of the energy of traditional air conditioning units. They are designed to remove heat naturally from home instead of relying on hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) like air conditioners do. This makes them an excellent alternative if you are ditching air conditioners as a part of your contribution to the fight against climate change.

11. Create Some Shade Around the House

If the sun is shining directly onto your house, you will need more than some window insulation or curtains to keep the heat out in a room.

You should consider protecting the room from the sun a bit more by installing artificial canopies, awnings, covered porches, or any other type of coverage that will soften the impact of the sunlight before it reaches the room. If you have a flat roof, you can even add a rooftop garden to deflect some of the sun’s light.

If you’re not sure just how much direct sunlight is hitting your house during the day, step outside in the peak of the afternoon and have a look around the house. If trees or surrounding buildings are taking the brunt of the sun’s rays, it is likely that your house is already protected to an extent. Your observations will show you how much work you need to do.

12. Use Your Box Fan Like an Exhaust Fan

When you are looking for a way to cool down your room, it is natural to turn on your box fan and have it facing your direction.

However, you can be more strategic with your use of the fan. One way to do this is to point the fan outside by opening a window and perching the fan on the window ledge. This way, it will circulate the hot air in your room faster, returning cooler air. This will make your room feel cooler.

13. Trigger a Cross Breeze

If you are in a room with one window, you can still enjoy the cross breeze feeling. All you need to do is to place a box fan directly opposite the window, and you’ve created your own cross breeze on the spot.

You can find some excellent box fan models from brands like Lasko and Comfort Zone. A standing fan can also achieve the same effects. The Honeywell Quiet Set and the Pelonis Ultra Quiet are some excellent options.

14. Hang Damp Towels on Your Windows

A wet towel across your open windows will have nearly the same impact as the “box fan and bowl of ice” tip above. As the breeze flows through it, the cool mist will make your room feel cooler. For even better results, consider freezing the sheets or towels first before putting them up.

Pro Tip: Remember to avoid using a sheet that is dripping wet so you don’t soak the floor and your walls.

15. Turn Off the Electronics

If you have a TV, a computer set, and other such electronics in your room, they could be adding to the heat.

One or two of these gadgets won’t generate much heat, especially if they are newer models. However, multiple electronics or older models can make the room uncomfortable pretty quickly. So if you’re in a small room with a lot of machinery running, consider turning them off if things are getting uncomfortably hot.

Also, don’t forget to turn off the lights. This is especially true if you have incandescent light fittings in the room. Such lights can be a source of heat—especially if you have more than a couple of bulbs in the room.

16. Insulate Your Doors and Windows

If you haven’t insulated your doors and windows, you should do so as soon as you can. Your curtains and blinds can only do so much against the heat. With a proper insulated-window film, for example, you’ll block out the bulk of the heat from the sun, giving your curtains less work to do. This will, in turn, keep your room cool.

You can also go with high-performance solar glazing on your windows. Some of the coatings used in such glazing are spectrally selective, which allows them to let daylight in while keeping heat from the sun outside.

Alternatively, you can adopt photochromic glazing and thermochromic glazing. The former changes the transparency of your windows depending on the sun’s intensity at any point while the latter makes your glass darker as the sun gets hotter.

Don’t want to spend money on windows and doors insulation yet? You can tape towels and sheets to your window. Fold some into the bottom part of your door if there are openings there. Keeping the cold air from escaping can also work in your favor in the winter when you’ll want to retain heat in the room.

Also, if you have a stockpile of spare bubble wrap, that can act as an effective window insulator as well.

17. Plant Trees Around Your House

After you’ve incorporated some of the shorter-term approaches covered in this article, it may be time for you to think long-term. What can you do to make the next summer even cooler around your home?

One solution is to plant some trees around your house. By preventing the sun from directly hitting your property, your rooms will feel cooler.

If your rooms are facing sunlight directly, you can also consider planting vines to protect your walls from the heat. These will grow faster than any tree, and can grow large enough to shield the side of your house completely.

18. Install a White Roof

A standard black roof will get a lot hotter than the surrounding environment on a really sunny day because it absorbs heat. The heat it traps will find its way into your room. A white roof, on the other hand, will reflect the heat, keeping your house cool in the hot weather.

If you don’t want to install new roof panels, applying white roof coating to your flat or metal roof can also do the job. Painting roofs with special pigments designed to reflect solar radiation is increasingly more common, and for good reasons. It is an excellent way to reflect solar radiation, even at the infrared spectrum level. This approach can lower surface temperature in the house by more than 50°F (10°C).

Discuss your options with your local roof installer, and choose the option that appeals to you the most.

19. Use an Air Dehumidifier

Moisture makes a hot room even more uncomfortable. A high-quality dehumidifier can get rid of the hot moisturized air in the room, making it a lot cooler. Some quality brands you should consider are the Colzer 70, Pro Breeze Electric Mini, and the Tenergy Sorbi.

20. Convert Your Basement

Heat rises from the ground up. This is why most basements stay cool all year round. If you can’t seem to stay cool in any other room in your house, it may be time to convert your basement into a cool-cave to retreat into when the weather is too hot.

If you have too much clutter in the basement, however, you’ll need to map out a day to get rid of the things you no longer need. Some of your options include donating or selling them on classified ads sites. For items you still need, get storage boxes and move them to your garage or another room with storage space.

Once you have the space empty, you should clean it and transform it to your taste. A few chairs, a rug, a mattress, and some fans will make the basement very comfortable. If you have a projector, you can enjoy your movies in a cool room when the sun is hottest.

If you don’t have a basement, you should move to the lowest level of your house during the peak of the day. You can return upstairs when the sun has died down.

21. Clean Your Air Vents

Does your home have air vents? These are perfect for bringing in outside fresh air into the house. You should ensure your air vents are clean and unclogged to keep circulation in the room optimal.

Clean air vents will remove the hot air inside your room and allow fresh air from outside, thus reducing the temperature inside your room.

22. Install a Ventilator in Your Attic

As you’ve seen above, your attic can become very hot and trap warm air on really hot days. A ventilator fan in the attic can help get rid of the hot air and cycle in cool, fresh air. This will reduce the fraction that comes down into your rooms.

If you already have attic insulation, this approach will work even better, leaving your home feeling cooler during the peak of the day’s heat.

23. Don’t Overwork Your Freezer

When the weather is hot, you’ll be tempted to make frequent trips to the fridge or freezer. Some people even make the mistake of leaving it open to cool down the space.

This is counterproductive. Opening your fridge or freezer frequently, or just leaving it open for minutes will only make it work a lot harder than it should. That translates to a hotter temperature around the appliance and a spike in your next energy bill.

So, don’t try to cool your home with your freezer, and don’t limit the number of trips you make to it over the course of the day. Make a list of what you’ve got in the fridge if necessary.

24. Use the AC Intermittently

If you already have an air-conditioning unit installed, you should consider using it for a while to cool down the room. You will still record energy savings if you don’t blast it all day. You may not like this approach, but sometimes, it makes the most sense.

For example, installing a whole house fan may be cheaper than running ACs in multiple rooms, but the cost of installation may not be good value if you are only trying to cool a room for three weeks out of the whole year. So, if you are living in a house with ACs installed already, moderation should be the approach to take, instead of avoiding it completely.

25. Buy a Small Window Unit Air Conditioner

If your main reason for avoiding air conditioners all along is the cost of installing one, you need to reevaluate your options. A window unit AC is cheaper than ever today, thanks to competition in the marketplace and better technologies.

You can order one and have it installed in less than three days. These units are eco-friendlier than the whole-house variants because they only spot-cool a specific room. They also don’t consume as much energy.

Here are some excellent window unit AC options you should consider: Midea Maw12R1BWT, TCL 5,000 BTU, and LG LW1516ER.

Final Thoughts

Cooling a room without AC comes down to three things: lowering your body temperature, keeping the heat out, and ensuring proper ventilation. The bulk of the tips above won’t work on their own, so you need to combine two to three different options and see what works.

Remember, you don’t have to spend money on the process at first. You can use alternatives if you already have them. If you choose to invest some money into the process, you should choose options that offer the most value in the long term.

Chris Hewitt

Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.

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