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How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool

Summer is a great time to relax at home and take a break, but this sweet time can soon turn sour if the heat gets too much. Insulation plays a key role in maintaining an ideal temperature in any home, but some houses have poor insulation or none at all. 

Here are a few ways to keep your poorly-insulated house cool:

  • Open your windows. 
  • Use blackout shades.
  • Use a dehumidifier.
  • Install ceiling fans.
  • Cotton sheets and clothing.
  • Sleep low to the ground.
  • Switch off the lights.
  • Unplug unnecessary electronics.
  • Get HVAC maintenance.
  • Install air conditioning.
  • Use ice fans.
  • Cook outdoors.
  • Install large shades.
  • Focus on your body’s temperature.
  • Use your doors wisely.

If you’re among those who have bad or no insulation at home, summer can be a taxing time. But fret not! You don’t have to resign yourself to days of sweaty misery or frustrating heat. We’ve got all the best solutions for you.

How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool

What is insulation?

Insulation refers to the process of installing materials within your home’s walls such that heat transfer between objects of different temperatures is reduced. To put it simply, insulation ensures that hot objects don’t transfer their heat to a neighboring object. 

To understand insulation, we need to go back to the three basic ways in which heat transfers from object to the next. Let us save you from sitting through a boring Physics lesson and sum it up. Heat transfers in 3 ways:  

  • Conduction (when one object conducts heat from another)
  • Convection (when heat moves through liquids and gases)
  • Radiation (which travels in a straight line and heats anything in its path)

How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool

Most insulation materials aim to reduce conductive and convective heat flow. This means that a well-insulated house can easily maintain cooler temperatures in the summer and warmer temperatures in the winter.

Insulation requires professional installation, and the cost will depend on the insulation and method of installation. This is likely to break your bank if your entire house is to be insulated. On average, insulating your entire home costs around $2000-$6000. An alternative to deal with this, especially if you do not live in extreme temperatures, is homemade methods – which are listed below.

Open your windows.

Your windows play a key role in how hot your house gets. Leaving your windows open is necessary for fresh air circulation. However, this will make your home warmer. 

To prevent this, buy thermal curtains and shades. These materials are made specifically to keep heat out. This method is especially useful for those who aren’t at home during the day.

How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool

Use blackout shades.

Another method is to simply use blackout shades or curtains to block all sunlight from entering your home. Lesser sunlight = lesser heat. Mount the shades as close to the glass as possible, creating a sealed space. There are also reversible shades that are white on one side and black on the other, so you can switch during different seasons.

Use a dehumidifier.

Humidity makes you sweat and makes it harder for sweat to evaporate. The best way to prevent humidity in your home is to use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier, as the name suggests, removes humidity in the air and is available in most major supermarkets and chain stores.

Install ceiling fans.

Most homes are likely to have ceiling fans. If not, they are pretty affordable to install. Use ceiling fans wisely and set them to spin counter-clockwise. This pushes air down and keeps you cooler. Apart from reducing room temperature, fans help sweat evaporate quickly.

How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool

Use cotton sheets and clothing.

Cotton is THE material to use during summer, regardless of insulation. In fact, if your bedroom is heating up, and not in a nice way, then consider changing the sheets to cotton ones. Also, consider buying pillows made from heat-resistant materials. Most people are also aware the loose-fitting cotton clothing is best for warmer temperatures.

Sleep low to the ground.

Hot air (or heat) rises up. Combat this by sleeping on lower surfaces. Put your mattress on the ground, sleep on the couch, or even move to the basement. 

Switch off the lights.

Generic LED and fluorescent lights generate heat. Switch off as many as possible to keep your home a little cooler. Even better, switch to CFL lights. CFLs reduce your energy consumption, carbon footprint, and heat production.

Unplug unnecessary electronics.

Anything electronic that you plug in generates heat. During summer, unplug any item that you’re not using. Even the small blinking lights on your appliances require electricity. Don’t just turn it off but actually unplug it.

How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool

Get HVAC maintenance.

Check if your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly before the peak summer months. Improper HVAC systems are bad at cooling your home down and can also use more energy. Deal with rising temperatures and higher bills with proper HVAC maintenance.

Install air conditioning.

Air conditioners are a big investment, but if you can afford it, get one installed in important rooms. Learn how to use an AC properly in the summer. 

Ideally, you should turn your AC off when you’re not home or keep it running at higher temperatures. Once you get home, you can set it at lower temperatures. Running your AC too long or making it work too hard is likely to bust up the fan motor.

Place a bowl of ice under a fan.

A simple trick for people who already have fans, especially bigger ones, at home is to use ice to generate a cool breeze. Fill a mixing bowl with ice or get an ice pack and place it in front of the fan at the right angle such that the fan generates a misty, refreshing breeze.

Cook outdoors.

Ever wondered why summer is a popular time for grills and barbeques? Apart from the bright weather, one of the most prominent reasons is to avoid the heat that is generated when cooking inside. Grilling in the summer keeps your home cool, and if you host a barbeque, then there’s the added benefit of leftovers – meaning you don’t have to cook for the next day or two.

Install large shades.

If you live in a house that has a small garden, consider installing large shades or awnings outside your windows, like they have outside shops. This allows light in but provides valuable shade. Umbrellas are also an affordable option. This is especially useful for those that do not want to use blackout shades or thick curtains that block the light.

Focus on your body’s temperature.

Try home solutions like having cool, refreshing drinks and applying a wet cloth to pulse points like your neck and wrists regularly. Keep a bottle of cool water close to your bed, in case you feel hot at night.

Close doors that aren’t being used.

Close the doors of every room that isn’t being used during the day. This prevents hot air from invading the room. During the night, leave your doors open and crack open a window or two to let air circulate naturally throughout the house.

How to Keep a Poorly Insulated House Cool


Proper insulation is a benefit that many cannot afford – either their home has insulation, but it’s inefficient, or their home has no insulation at all. If you are among these people, then summer can be a grueling time for you. No one wants to spend months in uncomfortable heat or even worse, drenched in sweat. 

There are many tactics to maintain a pleasant temperature during warm temperatures, some of them have been used for centuries – well before insulation was a thing. While some modern tactics like air-conditioning might be expensive, they are worth it. 

If you cannot invest in expensive options, use the above methods to stay refreshed throughout summer. It is worth noting that the above methods can also help you keep cool while you save up to have insulation installed.


  • Alanna Greene

    Alanna is an avid traveler who lives in Michigan. In addition to writing for Temperature Master, he also sells crafts on Etsy and takes long walks through the forests near her home.

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